Margaret TUDOR

(Queen of Scotland)

Born: 28 Nov 1489, Westminster Palace, London, England

Died: 18 Oct 1541, Methven Castle, Scotland

Father: HENRY VII TUDOR (King of England)

Mother: Elizabeth PLANTAGENET (Queen of England)

Married 1: JAMES IV STUART (King of Scotland) 8 Aug 1503, Holyrood Abbey, Scotland


1. James STUART (D. Rothesay)

2. JAMES V STUART (King of Scotland)

3. Dau. STUART (b. 15 Jul 1508)

4. Arthur STUART (D. Rothesay)

5. Dau. STUART (b. Nov 1512)

6. Alexander STUART (D. Ross)

Married 2: Archibald DOUGLAS (6º E. Angus) 4 Aug 1514, Kinnoul Church - Divorce 1528


7. Margaret DOUGLAS (C. Lennox)

Married 3: Henry STEWART (1º B. Methven) 3 Mar 1528


8. Dorothea STEWART

Tudor,Margaret01.jpg (6878 bytes)

Unknown woman, formerly known as Margaret Tudor

by Unknown French artist
oil on panel, circa 1520

Margaret Tudor was the first daughter of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. Born at Westminster, and named Margaret, for her grandmother, Lady Margaret Beaufort. Princess Margaret was christened with the silver font from Canterbury that had been used for her brother ArthurLady Margaret was also her godmother at her baptism in late 1489, and, according to the Tudor chronicler, John Leyland, gave her a gift of a silver-gilt box, filled with gold. Cardinal Morton and George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbuy, were the godfathers, and Elizabeth Tilney, Countess of Surrey, was the joint godmother.

Little is known about the upbringing of Margaret, who spent much of her time in the in the nursery at the palace at Eltham, where she surely received a careful education with her younger siblings, Henry, Mary, and for a brief period, Edmund.

James IV, King of Scotland, had supported Perkin Warbeck, whose claim to be the youngest of Edward IV's missing sons had been enthusiastically accepted by Henry's enemies. James had already demonstrated his military skills in several raids into England, and Henry, who had decided to crush him, was hampered by the Black Heath Rebellion in 1497, who opposed raising taxes to finance wars in Scotland. The two kings, now more alike in bargaining power than previous Scottish and English monarchs, concluded that peace was preferable to war and, after an initial truce, agreed on the terms of what would become known as the Treaty of Perpetual Peace. The Treaty included Princess Margaret's engagement to James, a man about sixteen years her senior, who had already had several illegitimate lovers and children.

Polydore Vergil, in his Anglica Historiae, recorded that Henry's Council was concerned that the marriage entailed the risk that in the future a king of Scotland might claim the throne of England. Apparently, Henry calmly replied.

"England would not be absorbed by Scotland, but Scotland by England, being the noblest head of the whole island, since there is always less glory and honor in being united to what is much greater, just as Normandy was once under the rule and the power of our ancestors the English..."

And so the King's wisdom was praised and the measure was unanimously approved. Margaret was engaged to King James. A dispensation was required for the marriage because James IV’s great-grandmother, Joan Beaufort, was the aunt of Margaret’s grandmother, Margaret Beaufort, making the couple third cousins. It was granted by the Pope Alexander VI on 28 Jul 1500.

But Margaret was only eleven years old at the time. Her parents still didn't want to let her go to Scotland. Henry explained the reason for the delay to Don Pedro de Ayala, Bishop of the Canaries, who was Spanish ambassador in Scotland:

“The queen and my mother are very against marriage. They say that if the marriage is concluded, we should be obliged to send the princess directly to Scotland, in which case they fear that the King of Scotland would not expect her, but would harm her and endanger her health..."

Lady Margaret Beaufort had been married at approximately twelve years of age and had given birth to Henry VII at thirteen. She thought that this premature delivery had made her unable to have more children. She insisted that her young granddaughter should not suffer the same damage.

It was therefore agreed that the marriage would take place by proxy, but that Margaret would not be sent to Scotland until she was at least 13, which would be on 28 Nov 1502. This had the added advantage of allowing Henry to hold on to the agreed £10,000 dowry.

Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey escorted Margaret Tudor to Scotland, and the entire Howard family went along. Among them his new wife, Agnes and his sons, Thomas and Edward.

Richard Grafton describes Margaret's departure:

"Thus this fair lady was conveyed with a great company of lords, ladies, knights, esquires and gentlemen until she came to Berwick and from there to a village called Lambton Kirk in Scotland where the King with the flower of Scotland was ready to receive her, to whom the Earl of Northumberland according to his commission delivered her."

And later he says:

"Then this lady was taken to the town of Edinburgh, and there the day after King James IV in the presence of all his nobility married the said princess, and feasted the English lords, and showed them jousts and other pastimes, very honourably, after the fashion of this rude country. When all things were done and finished according to their commission the Earl of Surrey with all the English lords and ladies returned to their country, giving more praise to the manhood than to the good manner and nature of Scotland."

On 8 Aug 1503, Margaret was married to James IV of Scotland by Robert Blackadder, Archbishop of Glasgow, and Thomas Savage, Archbishop of York at Holyrood House. Margaret was crowned following the nuptial mass.

Tudor,Margaret(sketch).jpg (52058 bytes)

A sketch of Margaret from the Recueil d'Arras
British Museum

Portrait of Margaret Tudor

by Bernard van Orley

Private Collection 

After a long day of feasting, it was reported that James and Margaret retired to bed together, probably to consummate the marriage, and thus make it indissoluble. Since Margaret's first pregnancy did not occur until 1506, it may be that James, after the first night, let her mature. Meanwhile, the King continued his relationship with his mistress, Janet Kennedy.

James treated Margaret courteously and kindly, granting her Kilmarnock as her morning gift and buying her clothes and jewels.

Margaret was apparently not happy in her early days in Scotland, as is evident in a letter she wrote to her father, Henry VII. The two different handwritings in the letter are because the top part was written by a secretary, while the last section was in Margaret's own hand. She informed her father that the Earl of Surrey was in very good favour with James, something which would presumably have pleased Henry, however Margaret was a little irritated that Surrey organised her household without reference to either herself or Sir Ralph Verney. She signed herself "his humble daughter, Margaret".

James died at Flodden Field 9 Sep 1513. When James IV died, Margaret's infant son became James V. It was because of this union that England and Scotland would be united under one crown 100 years later at the death of Elizabeth I in 1603.

Her regency was not popular: she was a daughter and sister of the English king, and a woman. She tried to stay in power, having her two surviving sons (Alexander, the youngest, was still alive at the time, as well as the older James).

Her marriage in 1514 to Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus, a supporter of England, gave the Scottish Parliament an excuse to replace him in the regency. John Stuart, Duke of Albany, the leader of the pro-French party, used the Scottish Lord's distrust of Margaret to make himself regent and sent the Queen to flee to England in 1516 with her second husband, the Earl of Angus. The Privy Council of Scotland asserted custody of the two children.

Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus, lived in England  from 1528 to 1532 after the forfeiture of his Earldom. In 1514 he is married to Margaret Tudor, and subsequently becomes regent. He granted Alasdair Crotach MacLeod lands in North Uist and Sleat thus strarting a long period of Strife between the MacLeods and the MacDonalds of Sleat. On 25th Aug 1532 he swears to follow King Henry VIII of England as absolute ruler of  Scotland in case of war even though his own sovereign James V is thereby afflicted. In return Henry promised the payment of £ 1000 per year as long as the earldom of Angus was forfeited. In Nov 3000 Scots raid through Northumberland. On Dec 12th Lord Dacre leads an English army of 2000 men to Scotland for revenge. They burnt  Douglas and twelve other villages and captured 2000 cows and even more sheep. Sir  Andrew Darcy wrote to Cromwell that the Douglas brothers had planned this largest robbery since 200 years.

Due to Archibald's and his brother George's policy they were called "the English Lords".

Quotes about Margaret from primary sources:

Polydore Virgil writes:

"This year also Margaret, queen of Scots, wife of James IV killed at Flodden in the fifth year of the king's reign, and elder sister of the King, after the death of her husband married Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus, without the consent of the King her brother or the council of Scotland, with which he was not pleased. But after that there arose such strife between the lords of Scotland that she and her husband came into England like banished persons, and wrote to the King for mercy and comfort. The King, ever inclined to mercy, sent them clothing and vessels and all things necessary, wishing them to stay in Northumberland until they knew further of his wishes. And the queen was there delivered of a fair lady called Margaret, and all the country were commanded by the King to do them pleasure."

Tudor,Margaret02.jpg (54555 bytes)

Margaret Tudor

 by Daniel Mytens

Royal Collection © Her Majesty the Queen

At the Palace of Holyroodhouse

Margaret of Scotland visited England that summer, bringing her six-month-old daughter, Lady Margaret Douglas. She had been in Scotland for thirteen years but her visit was pleasant enough. Henry VIII had never tired of lecturing Margaret on morality (she had married the Earl of Angus after James of Scotland's death at Flodden); this, of course, is laughable when one considers his own matrimonial career. But Margaret's visit was some ten years before Anne Boleyn entered Henry's life. In 1516, the King was just seven years into his reign, still handsome and bluff. Still, Margaret had little in common with her siblings after her years away; also, her first husband had been killed by the English at Flodden Field.

In 1517 Margaret returned to Scotland, since Henry VIII had persuaded Albany, so that he could return to see her son, while he himself was in France.

She was also reunited with her husband Archibald who had returned to Scotland for some time without Margaret and who had enriched himself from a mistress, Lady Jane Stewart, and living off his wife's money. Her marriage with Angus was deteriorating, even more so when he managed to seize the custody of the King and thus ensure the regency of the kingdom from 1524.  

 Tudor,Margaret03.jpg (40909 bytes)

Margaret Tudor and her second husband
(to her left) the Earl of Angus 

by an unknown artist.
The man he is pointing to is probably Harry Stewart, her third husband.
From a private collection

For Henry, Angus was a useful ally and an effective counter-weight to Albany and the pro-French faction. Angered, Margaret drew closer to the Albany faction and asked for his return from France. Albany, seemingly in no hurry to return to the fractious northern kingdom, suggested that she resume the regency herself. The dispute between husband and wife was set to dominate Scottish politics for the next three years, complicated even more by a feud between Angus and James Hamilton, 1st Earl of Arran; with bewildering rapidity Margaret sided with one and then the other.

Albany finally arrived back in Scotland in Nov 1521 and was warmly received by Margaret. It was soon rumoured that their cordial relations embraced more than politics. Angus went into exile while the Regent – with the full cooperation of the queen dowager – set about restoring order to a country riven by three years of intense factional conflict. Albany was useful to Margaret: he was known to have influence in Rome, which would help ease her application for a divorce. Angus and his allies spread the rumour that the two were lovers, to such effect that even the sober-headed Lord Thomas Dacre wrote to Cardinal Wolsey, predicting that James would be murdered and Albany would become king and marry Margaret. But the relationship between the two was never more than one of calculated self-interest, as events were soon to prove.

In 1524 Margaret organized a coup d'état that eliminates Albany. With Albany once more in France (where he was to die in 1536), Margaret, with the help of Arran and the Hamiltons, brought James, now 12 years old, from Stirling to Edinburgh. Even though James was very young, it was a bold and popular move. In Aug, Parliament declared the regency at an end, as James was elevated to full kingly powers. In practice, he would continue to be governed by others, his mother above all. When Beaton objected to the new arrangements Margaret had him arrested and thrown into jail. In Nov Parliament formally recognised Margaret as the chief councillor to the King.

Henry VIII allowed Angus to return to Scotland. Both of these factors were to some degree beyond her control. The most damaging move of all was not. She formed a new attachment, this time to Henry Stewart, a younger brother of Lord Avondale. Stewart was promoted to senior office, angering the Earl of Lennox, among others, who promptly entered into an alliance with her estranged husband. On Nov 1524, when Parliament confirmed Margaret's political office, her war with Angus descended into a murderous farce. When he arrived in Edinburgh with a large group of armed men, claiming his right to attend Parliament, she ordered cannons to be fired on him from both the Castle and Holyrood House. When the two English ambassadors present at court, Thomas Magnus and Roger Radcliffe, objected that she should not attack her lawful husband she responded in anger, telling them to "go home and not meddle with Scottish matters". Angus withdrew for the time being, but under pressure from various sources, the Queen finally admitted him to the council of regency in Feb 1525. It was all the leverage he needed. Taking custody of James he refused to give him up, exercising full power on his behalf for a period of three years. James' experience during this time left him with an abiding hatred of both the house of Douglas and the English connection.

After obtaining the annulment of her previous marriage in 1527, she married Henry Stewart, who was made Lord of Methven when James V personally assumed control of the government in 1528. For a time, Margaret and Methven were the counselors who most influenced James.

In 1534 he got England and Scotland to sign a peace treaty. She even planned a marriage between her son James V and Princess Mary Tudor to strengthen this union. That marriage never took place.

She tried to arrange a meeting between her son and Henry VIII, but James accused her of betraying secrets and no longer trusted her.

The central aim of Margaret's political life, in addition to ensuring her own survival, was to achieve a better understanding between England and Scotland, a position she held during some difficult times. James was suspicious of Henry VIII, especially because of his continued support for Angus, a man he passionately detested. Still, in early 1536 her mother persuaded her to join her brother. It was her moment of triumph and she wrote to Henry and Thomas Cromwell, now her chief adviser, saying it was "on the advice of us and no other living person". In the end, the meeting came to nothing because there were too many voices raised in objection and because, James would not be handled by his mother or anyone else. In a private interview with the English ambassador, William Howard, her disappointment was obvious: "I am tired of Scotland", she confessed. Her tiredness even extended to betraying state secrets to her brother.

In Feb 1534-5 Howard went to Scotland to invest James V with the Garter (State Papers Henry VIII, v. 2 ; Diurnal of Occurrents, Bannatyne Club, 19). Queen Margaret on 4 Mar wrote to Henry, commending Howard's 'honorable, pleasaunt, and wys' behaviour. King James V, who a few days previously bore similar testimony, offered him the confiscated lands and goods of James Hamilton, the sheriff of Linlithgow, brother of Patrick Hamilton. These Howard refused, and Hamilton was restored to favour.

She and her husband would have a child together, a daughter, Dorothea, but she died in infancy. Her marriage to Methven had also worsened as she had learned of his countless affairs. Methven proved to be as bad a husband as Angus and set up house in one of Margaret’s castles with his mistress, Janet Stewart. They had a son, Henry. Margaret tried to convince her son so that she could divorce her but her son did not accept it. At one point she escaped towards the border, only to be intercepted and taken back to Edinburgh. Over and over again she wrote to Henry complaining of her poverty and asking for money and protection: she wanted tranquility and comfort instead of being forced to "follow her son like a poor woman", but Henry rarely responded to her letters. As time passed, she was able to reconcile with her husband. 

In 1538, Margaret was commissioned to welcome her son's new wife, Mary of Guise, to Scotland.

Margaret died at Methven Castle on 18 Oct 1541. Henry Ray, the Berwick Pursuivant, reported that she had palsy (possibly resulting from a stroke) on Friday and died on the following Tuesday. As she thought she would recover she did not trouble to make a will. She sent for King James, who was at Falkland Palace, but he did not come in time. Near the end she wished that the friars who attended her would seek the reconciliation of the King and the Earl of Angus. She hoped the King would give her possessions to her daughter, Lady Margaret Douglas. James arrived after her death, and he ordered Oliver Sinclair and John Tennent to pack up her belongings for his use. She was buried at the Carthusian Charterhouse in Perth (demolished during the Reformation, 1559).

After Margaret’s death Methven would marry his mistress thus legitimising Henry Stewart who inherited his father’s title.

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