Margaret Tudor was an English heiress who married James IV of Scotland to become the Queen Consort of Scotland. She served as regent for their son, King James V of Scotland, after his demise. Margaret’s primary concern throughout her existence was her own survival, despite her known passion and impulsiveness. However, she also sought to improve relations between her native kingdom and the one she had adopted. She was one of Henry VII and his wife Elizabeth of York’s daughters. Her father arranged her marriage to James IV in the hopes that it would terminate Scotland’s support for Perkin Warbeck, a pretender with designs on the English throne. James IV and Margaret were eventually married by proxy in January 1503, and they met in person when Margaret arrived in Scotland later that year. Margaret assumed the duty of guardian for her minor son following James IV’s death in 1513. She played a pivotal role in the conflict between the pro-French and pro-English factions at the Scottish court and frequently switched sides based on her financial interests. She subsequently wed twice more and grew to despise both of her spouses. Margaret lost control of her son over time. Despite this, she maintained a conspicuous court presence for the remainder of her life.
Youth and Early Life
Margaret Tudor was born in Westminster Palace on November 28, 1489, to Henry VII of England and Elizabeth of York. She was one of the eight legitimate daughters of Henry VII. She had three brothers and three sisters: Arthur, Prince of Wales, Henry VIII, King of England, Edward, and Edmund, and Mary, Queen of France, Elizabeth, and Katherine. Edward, Edmund, Elizabeth, and Katherine perished in childhood.
Her parents named her Margaret Beaufort after her paternal grandmother, Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby. Her baptism took place at Westminster’s St. Margaret’s Church. According to contemporary beliefs, the daughters of monarchs were priceless assets to be used for the family’s financial, political, diplomatic, and social benefit. Her father considered her marriage to James IV before she turned six years old.
James IV (17 March 1473) was significantly elder than she. However, England required Scotland to stop supporting Perkin Warbeck, who posed as Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York, one of Edward IV’s sons, and claimed to be a legitimate successor to the English throne.
Henry VII may have also been looking for a means to unite the English and Scottish crowns one day. On September 30, 1497, a truce was reached between the two kingdoms, and the marriage was once again seriously considered.
Some members of the English royal family questioned the marriage out of concern that it could one day result in a Stewart becoming king of England. Henry VII dismissed this notion, stating that if this were to occur, England would be consumed by Scotland and not the other way around.
On January 24, 1502, the Treaty of Perpetual Peace was concluded between the kingdoms, and the marriage treaty was signed on the same day. Margaret and James IV were married by proxy on January 25, 1503, at Richmond Palace, exactly one year later.
Princess Royal of Scotland
The wedding was an extravagant event. James IV declared that a substantial quantity of land and a number of residences would be transferred to the new queen of Scotland, who also received a large wardrobe of clothing.
In 1503, Margaret entered Scotland accompanied by a large group of courtiers. On August 1, she encountered her husband and the remainder of the Scottish court in Berwick upon Tweed. A week later, on August 8, their marriage was verified in person at Edinburgh’s Holyrood Abbey.
James, Duke of Rothesay (February 21, 1507 – February 27, 1508); Unknown Daughter (died shortly after birth on July 15, 1508); Arthur Stewart, Duke of Rothesay (October 20, 1509 – July 14, 1510); James V (April 10, 1512 – December 14, 1542); Unknown Daughter (died shortly after birth in November 1512); and Alexander Stewart, Duke of Ross (April 30, 1514 – December 31, 1515). Except for James V, none of her offspring survived past childhood.
James IV was a competent monarch. He was also a genuine Renaissance noble with a passion for science and engineering. In addition, he was highly educated, fluent in multiple languages, and, according to multiple sources, a very attractive man. Little is known about his relationship with Margaret, but her father’s provision of a meager dowry did little to improve relations between Scotland and England.
Henry VII died in 1509, and his son Henry VIII succeeded him as monarch of England. He lacked his father’s patience and intelligence and immediately began preparing for conflict with France. James IV was compelled to attack England to honor the Auld Alliance, so the Treaty of Perpetual Peace lasted less than a decade after its conclusion. On September 9, 1513, he was slain in the Battle of Flodden.
Chancellor of Scotland
Margaret was an outspoken opponent of the conflict, but James IV appointed her as the regent for their son despite this. The only requirement was that she remain a widow. Not only did the Battle of Flodden result in the demise of the king, but it was also a complete disaster for Scotland.
Margaret’s position as regent was affirmed shortly after the king’s death when the Parliament was convened at Stirling. Her situation was quite complicated. In addition to being the first woman to hold such a position of authority in Scotland, she was also the sister of an opposing monarch.
The Scottish court split into two distinct factions. One faction supported France’s influence in Scotland. They believed that John Stewart, 2nd Duke of Albany, should replace Margaret as the regent for the infant monarch. He was the king’s nearest male relative. To the French-supporting nobles, he embodied the very essence of the Auld Alliance.
Margaret became the leader of the pro-English faction almost by default. Initially, she displayed all of the administrative skills necessary for success. She was effective in bringing a temporary end to the conflict between the parties and pursuing tentative peace with England. When she developed a strong attraction for Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus, she undid all of her hard work by allowing her emotions to supersede her common sense.
Margaret required allies, so she grew closer to the formidable House of Douglas. Angus possessed a poor reputation. Even his uncle, the clergyman and poet Gavin Douglas, referred to him as a “young fool.” Margaret and Angus secretly wed in the parish church of Kinnoull, near Perth, on August 6, 1514. The marriage ultimately deteriorated Margaret’s already fraught relationship with the Scottish nobility. Furthermore, she lost the regency because she did precisely what the deceased king’s will forbade her to do.
In July 1515, Albany was summoned back to Scotland and duly appointed as the regent. Margaret unsuccessfully attempted a minor rebellion by keeping James V and Alexander with her. Margaret, who was pregnant with Angus’s child at the time, moved to Edinburgh as Albany assumed responsibility for the brothers. Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox, was born on October 8, 1515, their daughter.
Henry VIII had planned to engage in Scottish politics for some time. He desired for his sister to reside in England with her children, but Margaret refused on multiple occasions, well aware that such a move could result in James V losing the throne. Nevertheless, after her children were removed from her, she fled Scotland. She was not accompanied by Angus. Instead, he attempted to make peace with the regent.
Margaret spent approximately one year in England before returning to the north in 1517. She was only permitted limited contact with her children. Despite initial indications that she had reconciled with her estranged spouse, their relationship began to deteriorate once more.
In her correspondence with her sibling, she revealed his extramarital affairs and strongly suggested a possible divorce. Henry VIII was opposed to the proposal, as Angus had proven beneficial against the pro-French faction.
In addition, the youthful Henry VIII held conservative and puritanical views and was adamantly opposed to the concept of divorce.
Margaret, frustrated by this, sought to ally herself with the pro-French faction and joined others in requesting Albany’s prompt return from France to recommence his regent duties. However, he had no intention of doing so and merely informed her that she could serve as regent on her own.
In the ensuing years, her actions caused much confusion. The husband and wife’s ongoing dispute played a central role in the Scottish political system. James Hamilton, 1st Earl of Arran, posed a threat to Albany’s dominance. Margaret frequently switched positions between them in accordance with her interests.
In November 1521, Albany returned to Scotland and was greeted by the Queen-Dowager. After years of infighting, Albany quickly initiated adjustments to a political system that was in complete disarray. Margaret, whose spouse was sent into exile immediately after the regent’s arrival in Scotland, gave him her full support.
Eventually, rumors of a potential romantic relationship between Margaret and Albany began to circulate. Angus and his allies were accountable for this action. However, as subsequent events would demonstrate, their collaboration was solely motivated by self-interest.
In the 1520s, Scotland engaged in border conflicts with England that were disastrous for the nation. Margaret conducted a successful coup d’état against Albany in 1524, resulting in Albany’s loss of power. Albany departed for France, and Margaret, with the assistance of Arran and the Hamiltons, returned her son to Edinburgh. She also had the support of the people.
In August of 1524, the parliament formally terminated the regency and gave James V, then 12 years old, full kingly powers. Others, including his mother, would continue to exert authority over him for many years. There were still several issues that required Margaret’s attention. Her excessive reliance on the Hamiltons dissatisfied other nobles, and her brother had once again permitted Angus to enter Scotland.
Instead of addressing such pressing matters, she initiated a passionate relationship with one of Lord Avondale’s younger brothers, Henry Stewart. While Stewart was rapidly promoted, her dispute with her spouse degenerated into a murderous farce. On November 23, 1524, while Angus was attempting to storm Edinburgh, Margaret fired cannons at his forces.
In February 1525, despite Margaret’s efforts, Angus was able to enter the city and secure a position on the council of regency. Angus was appointed as James V’s custodian in July 1526. He effectively held him captive and ruled in his place.
Margaret had maintained her correspondence with Albany despite the coup, and he eventually assisted her in March 1527 in obtaining sanction for divorce from Pope Clement VII. She married Stewart on March 3, 1528. A few weeks following Margaret’s third marriage, James V escaped from Angus and returned to Margaret. After nearly a year of fortification at Tantallon Castle, Angus retreated to England once more.
Margaret and her husband occupied key positions in the new administration of King James V. She continued her efforts to better relations between England and Scotland and even attempted to set up a meeting between her brother and son but was unsuccessful. James V was extremely distrustful of Henry VIII due to his unwavering support for Angus. Margaret was so frustrated that she divulged state secrets to Henry VIII.
Afterlife and Death
Margaret eventually grew irritated with Stewart. She desired a second divorce, but her son was against it. She believed that James V had been bribed by Stewart and attempted to flee to England, but she was apprehended at the frontier. Eventually, she reconciled with Stewart and developed an outstanding rapport with her new daughter-in-law, Marie de Guise. She maintained a significant court presence for the remainder of her life.
Margaret died on October 18, 1541, at Methven Castle in Perthshire, after reportedly suffering from ataxia. She was buried in Perth’s Carthusian Charterhouse. James V was not present when she passed away. He later arrived and seized all of her property.
The Tudor dynasty, which descended from her father, terminated with her niece Elizabeth I of England. James VI of Scotland or James I of England, her great-grandson, later unified the crowns. Margaret Tudor was a combination of Margaret and her sister Mary in the 2007-2010 BBC historical drama ‘The Tudors.
The producers did not want the audience to confound Princess Mary, Henry VIII’s sister, with Princess Mary, Henry VIII’s daughter. Gabrielle Anwar, an English actress, portrayed the role. James IV honored Margaret by naming a Scottish warship after her.
Estimated Net Worth
The net worth of Margaret Tudor is $2 million.