Margaret Tudor was the older sister of Henry VIII and second daughter to Henry VII and his wife, Elizabeth of York. On March 3, 1516, Margaret returned to the English court after marrying Archibald Douglas in 1514. Margaret was the Queen of Scotland, originally marrying James IV in 1503 and was the grandmother of Mary, Queen of Scots and the great-grandmother of James VI of Scotland (James I of England).
Leading to Margaret Tudor’s First Marriage
Margaret was a pawn in the English court, just like all women in 16th century England. She was used by her father to gain political power and create a union with Scotland. She was born on November 28, 1489 and by the time she was six years old, her father was planning her future. James IV of Scotland was a powerful man but had no heir and was already in his mid-twenties. He needed a young wife quickly and by 1497 the prospect of Margaret Tudor became a real possibility.
James IV did not initially want the marriage to happen. There were rumours that he was looking to marry his mistress at the time, Margaret Drummond. James feared that Scotland would be taken over by England and he did not want to see that happen to his beloved country. In the end, he had very little choice and the Treaty of Perpetual Peace was signed on January 24, 1502, which was the first agreement of peace between the two countries in 170 years. The treaty for marriage was signed at the same time.
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Marriage by Proxy for Margaret Tudor and James IV of Scotland
The marriage took place just over a year later on January 25, 1503 but was by proxy. Patrick, the Early of Bothwell, took the place of the King of Scotland at Richmond Palace, in the chambers of Margaret. Margaret was officially given the title of Queen of Scots. Amusingly, the then Duke of York – later Henry VIII – threw a tantrum at the fact that his sister now held higher precedence in the court since she was a foreign queen. This was before the death of Prince Arthur and Henry was never supposed to become King of England. Had the marriage taken place after Arthur’s death, there may not have been the tantrum.
Four months later, James confirmed all the property and lands that Margaret would own. The castles included Sterling Castle, Linlithgow Palace and Methven Castle. Margaret did not leave England until June 1503, when Henry VII escorted her to her husband but it was not until August 1 of that year that she finally crossed the border at Berwick Upon Tweed.
The Children Between Margaret Tudor and James IV
The couple had six children during the next 10 years but only one of those survived infancy. This was a common occurrence in 16th century Britain due to the poor medical knowledge and care. Most of Margaret’s children died within their first year of life, with two daughters dying shortly after their birth.
The only surviving child was James, who later became James V of Scotland and the father of Mary, Queen of Scots. All but two children were born at Holyrood Palace: James V, who was born at Linlithgow Palace and Alexander, Duke of Ross, who was born in Stirling Castle after James IV’s death.
Henry VIII Becomes King of England
A change in the regency of England caused problems for Margaret Tudor. Henry VIII did not have the same diplomacy as his father. Henry VII had been raised in a time of war – during the War of the Roses – while Henry VIII grew up with England being at peace. Henry VIII went to war with France, which had close relations with Scotland. This caused problems with the Treaty of Perpetual Peace.
In honour of France, James IV invaded England in 1513, when Margaret was pregnant with their son, Alexander. He died on the battle field during the Battle of Flodden and James V was named king. Still being young, Margaret was named as regent for her son as long as she never remarried. It was rare for a woman to gain as much power during this time, especially a woman who was the sister of the enemy, and this caused problems in court. A pro-French party soon gathered in court wanting the 2nd Duke of Albany, John Stewart, to be named regent. He was third-in-line to the throne, which was a strong claim, and had been raised in France.
Margaret seemed to have her father’s ability to take control and had political skill. By 1514, England and Scotland reconciled. However, she allowed her emotion overrule her during this process by turning to the House of Douglas and falling for the 6th Earl of Angus, Archibald Douglas.
Margaret Tudor Marries a Second Time
On August 6, 1514, Margaret and Archibald married near Perth in secret. This instantly meant that she had sacrificed her title of regent, stated in James IV’s will, and strengthened the cried for Albany to take over. This happened at the end of the month and in September of the same year, it was decided by the Privy Council that she has forfeited her rights to supervise her two infant sons. She defied this and took James and Alexander to Stirling Castle.
In May 1515, Albany arrived from France and had to gain custody of the two infants. By August of that year, Margaret agreed to surrender and handed her sons to their uncle. Margaret, at this time, was expecting her first child with her new husband and decided it was time to retire to England.
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Margaret Tudor Flees to England
Henry VIII had wanted Margaret to flee Scotland for some time and to bring her sons with her but she refused to do that. Her main fear was that her older son, James, would lose his claim to the Scottish thrown by doing such a thing. However, now that she had no personal interest, she decided it was time to return home and was met by Lord Dacre at the border.
Margaret gave birth to her daughter while in England and named her Margaret Douglas. The young Margaret became the Countess of Lennox and gave birth to Henry Stuart, who was Mary, Queen of Scots’ second husband. Queen Margaret’s younger son, Alexander, died while she was in England and there were rumours that Albany had something to do with that. This made no sense to Margaret since James would have been the better target for Albany to gain the throne.
Margaret eventually returned to Scotland but all was not well. She hinted to her brother about seeking a divorce from her second husband, who was against it from the beginning. It seems strange that Henry VIII would be against divorce when he had so many wives but this was in 1518 and long before his infatuation with Anne Boleyn. Margaret married for a third time and attempted to flee to England for a second time before her death on October 18, 1541.
Mary Kelly Godley from Ireland on March 05, 2013:
You are welcome and please do keep writing about them.
Alexandria Ingham (author) from Canada on March 05, 2013:
I wouldn't have wanted to be a woman in those days, especially one in power. One foot wrong and there were so many risks. But that doesn't stop me from enjoying writing about them :) Thanks for your interest.
Mary Kelly Godley from Ireland on March 04, 2013:
Very interesting, I love reading the history of the Tudor's. It was a tough time to be a woman in those days especially marrying into royalty as it was always a possibility you might lose your head. (Literally unfortunately).