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In the 16th century, James V of the House of Stewart reigned as King of Scotland. He rose to the Scottish throne at the age of seventeen months, following the death of his father, King James IV of Scotland, at the Battle of Flodden Field. During the early years of his reign, several regents, including his mother, John Stewart, 2nd Duke of Albany, and Robert Maxwell, 5th Lord Maxwell, successfully ruled in his name. He deposed the regents and was proclaimed king at the age of twelve. However, it was determined that he would remain under the care of a chosen group of high nobility for the next three months, rotating between them. He took control of the administration himself in 1528. Although he was not a popular king, he was able to complete the majority of his administrative tasks. He improved his finances, gave the crown and central government more power, and enforced peace and order along the frontiers, in the Highlands, and on the islands. His relationship with the Catholic Church was complicated; while he was a devout Catholic who enforced harsh penalties for what he considered heresy, he also levied high taxes on the Church’s assets. He ruled over a fairly tranquil Scotland, which was a significant kingdom in contemporary Europe. Mary I of Scotland, his only legitimate surviving child, succeeded him when he died.

Childhood and Adolescence

On April 10, 1512, James V was born at Linlithgow Palace in Linlithgowshire, which is now West Lothian, Scotland. King James IV of Scotland and Queen Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry VII, King of England, were his parents. James was their only kid that lived past childhood. A day after his birth, he was baptized and given the titles of Duke of Rothesay and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland.

Following the events of the Italian Wars, a new outbreak of hostilities between France and England erupted. When Henry VIII, the English King of the time, attacked France, James IV declared war on England and invaded Northumbria, despite being an ally of both countries. It was a flop of a campaign. The Scottish army was crushed at the Battle of Flodden Field on September 9, 1513, and James, along with many of his peers, was slaughtered.

James V was just 17 months old at the time of his coronation, which took place twelve days later at Stirling Castle’s Chapel Royal. In his testament, his father nominated his mother as Regent for their young boy as long as she remained a widow. Soon after, she won Parliamentary support.

At the time, the Scottish court was split into two distinct factions. The pro-French group favored the continuation of the Auld Alliance, with James Beaton and the Archbishop of Glasgow at the helm. The queen was the leader of the pro-English group, and she had even opposed her husband’s death in the fight against England. Margaret required a partner to help her solidify her position. She had a relationship with Archibald Douglas, the restless and ambitious 6th Earl of Angus, after reaching out to the prominent Douglas family.

On August 6, 1514, they married in secret. This proved to be a blunder. It enraged her allies, and her foes retaliated quickly. She had given up her post in accordance with James IV’s will. John Stewart, 2nd Duke of Albany, the king’s uncle, was summoned from France. The Privy Council also ordered Elizabeth to cede her authority over her sons, James and his posthumously born brother Alexander Stewart, Duke of Ross, in September. She first resisted, almost pushing the country to the brink of civil war.

Albany arrived in Scotland in May 1515, and two months later, he assumed the role of Regent. He took advantage of the Scottish nobility’s natural disdain for the queen and her English ancestors. Margaret fled to her brother Henry VIII’s court in England in 1516, thereby leaving Albany as the young king’s sole guardian. Margaret would learn of Alexander’s death during her somewhat self-imposed isolation.

Albany stayed in France from 1517 until 1520 after obtaining the regency, signing the Treaty of Rouen with Charles, Duke of Alençon on August 26, 1517. It resurrected the Auld Alliance by gaining James a royal bride from France. Later, he traveled to Rome, where he secured papal support for James’ reign as well as his own regency.

In Albany’s absence, his lieutenants wielded regency powers, such as Antoine d’Arces, sieur de la Basti. When the king visited the park below the castle, he was well protected, with 20 footmen clothed in crimson and gold and six riders combing the terrain for any signs of danger. David Lindsay, a poet, was responsible for his education at the University of St. Andrews.

Reign & Accession

With Albany still in France, Margaret returned to Scotland in 1524 and launched a simple but effective coup d’état with the support of Robert Maxwell to transport the king from Stirling to Edinburgh. The end of the regency was announced by Parliament in August, and the king was given complete regal powers. It was agreed that he would continue to rule through the lords of Scotland, who would alternate hosting the king for three months each.

When Angus was appointed as his stepson’s governor, he held James in captivity for the next three years, reigning in his name. Attempts to release the king were undertaken, but they were unsuccessful. Margaret was in love with Henry Stewart, 1st Lord Methven, and was thoroughly disillusioned with her husband. In 1528, James was ultimately able to flee Angus and seize control of the government.

James V’s first move was to unleash the wrath of the crown on the House of Douglas. He exiled the family and laid siege to Tantallon, their ancient home. On July 17, 1537, he burned Janet Douglas, Angus’ sister, at the stake for witchcraft. In 1529 and 1530, he undertook significant border operations to bring renowned leaders like Johnnie Armstrong to justice. Following that, he concentrated on subduing the island chieftains. James retaliated against Henry VIII’s support for the Douglas family by supporting Irish rebels and declaring himself the “Lord of Ireland.”

His financial strategies aimed to boost the crown’s revenue by consolidating his control over royal lands and money from justice, customs, and feudal privileges. He took money from the Catholic church by taxing clerical income with Pope Clement VII’s authorization.

His domestic and international policy were profoundly influenced by the Protestant Reformation Movement. James sided with the French, an old ally, against the English. He persecuted several of the kingdom’s most notable Protestants, notably Patrick Hamilton, who was tried as a heretic and burnt at the stake on February 29, 1528, in St Andrews.

While in Compiègne, France, on February 25, 1537, he was presented with a blessed sword and cap by Pope Paul III, symbolizing the Pope’s prayers that James would be victorious in his war against heresy over the border.

Major Conflicts of James

With Margaret Tudor’s death in October 1541, all prospects for peace with England were shattered. The war was unavoidable. On August 24, 1542, the Scots gained a decisive victory at the Battle of Haddon Rig. James refused to convert to Protestantism, despite Henry’s prodding. He also mentioned his desire to postpone a meeting with Henry because his wife was expecting at the time. This was a condition Henry refused to accept, so he attacked.

James and his nobility were split over whether or not to invade England. He was adamant on doing it, despite their advice to be cautious. On September 24, the forces clashed at the Battle of Solway Moss. Hundreds of Scots were either captured or drowned in the River Esk, and it was a disaster. The defeated king, who was suffering from a high fever, retired to Falkland Palace, where he died on December 14, 1542, at the age of 30. In Edinburgh, he was interred at Holyrood Abby.

Personal History and Legacy

James V was determined to keep the specific phrase in the Treaty of Rouen that promised him a French princess as a bride. The Scottish, on the other hand, were well aware that all of Francis I’s daughters were either already married or unwell. As a result, they began looking for other potential brides in the summer of 1529. The Duchess of Urbino, Catherine de’ Medici, and Mary of Austria, Queen of Hungary, the sister of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, were both considered.

Guillaume du Bellay, sieur de Langes, and Etienne de Laigue, sieur de Beauvais, the French diplomats in Scotland, learned in 1533 that James was intending to marry Christina of Denmark. The French and Scots decided that James V would marry Mary of Bourbon, daughter of the Duke of Vendôme, and receive a dowry as if he had married a French royal, after much negotiation.

With many of his noblemen and 500 servants, he went to France on the flagship ‘Mary Willoughby’ on September 1, 1536. He briefly met Mary in Picardy’s St. Quentin before heading south to meet the French King.
The meeting was fruitful. They went wild boar hunting together, and James was able to capture his French princess. Despite previously claiming that his daughter Madeleine of Valois’ health was weak, Francis lavished lavishly on her wedding to the Scottish King.

On May 19, 1537, the wedded couple returned from France, arriving first in Leith. Ten large French ships escorted the Scottish force. Madeleine wrote to her father when she arrived in Edinburgh, advising him that she was feeling better and that her symptoms had subsided. Her health, however, quickly began to deteriorate. The ‘Summer Queen’ died in her husband’s arms at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh on July 7, 1537. There was no problem with the marriage.

James married Mary of Guise, his second wife, less than a year after she died. She was a widow with two sons from her former marriage with Louis II, Duke of Longueville, François III d’Orléans, Duke of Longueville and Louis of Longueville. She had three further children with James: two boys, James, Duke of Rothesay (1540), and Robert, Duke of Albany (1541), as well as a daughter, Mary (1542). Both of their sons died in childhood.

Following her father’s death, Mary V of Scotland assumed the Scottish throne as Mary I of Scotland, with her mother acting as Regent. Despite the fact that Mary’s rule would end in violence, with Elizabeth I ordering her execution, her son James VI would succeed Elizabeth as James I of England. He’d bring about changes that would propel England into the modern era. He would also set the groundwork for what would become the world’s richest and most powerful empire.

At least nine illegitimate offspring were born to James V, seven of whom were sons. The majority of them became clerics, and several were given titles. Adam Stewart, James Stewart, Jean Stewart, Robert Stewart, John Stewart, and Margaret Stewart were among the group.

Estimated Net Worth

James is one of the wealthiest kings and one of the most popular. James V’s net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.


At least four Scottish chroniclers claim that James was disguised when he first encountered Mary of Bourbon. However, seeing his unusual red hair and having been given a portrait of him, she quickly recognized him.
James was known as the “King of the Commons,” and it was said that he toured his kingdom in disguise as a “Gudeman of Ballengeich” (Landlord/Farmer of the Windy Pass).