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Digital Subscriptions > History Scotland > Jul - Aug 2019 > THE STEWART QUEENS OF SCOTLAND, 1371-1513: PART 6 MARGARET TUDOR: AN ENGLISH QUEEN


In the concluding instalment of her major series, Dr Amy Hayes explores the life of Margaret Tudor, the controversial wife of James IV and a woman whose turbulent career as a dowager has both earned her a poor reputation and overshadowed her years as consort
Margaret Tudor, after a Holbein painting

Margaret Tudor is perhaps the most infamous Scottish queen consort, generally remembered as the evercomplaining sister of Henry VIII. As the wife of James IV, Margaret was queen consort of Scotland for ten years until the death of her husband in 1513 thrust her into a position of political power that she was entirely unequipped for. Margaret would be dowager queen for a period of 28 years, and spent the majority of her time being pulled between the conlicting interests of powerful men, whilst fighting a losing battle to gain access to the revenues and incomes that could have helped her wield more effective political control. Margaret’s inability to establish stable government, and her tendency to switch political allegiances, has left her with a poor reputation, dogged by accusations that she was ‘frivolous’ and ‘unreliable’. Yet this ignores the complex circumstances of Margaret’s queenship, both as consort and dowager, and overly simpliies the dificulties she faced as an English-born queen in latemedieval Scotland.


Margaret Tudor was born on 28 November 1489 as the second child and eldest daughter of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. The daughter of an English king still new to his throne, Margaret had signiicant importance in the marriage market, and as early as 1496 her father opened negotiations with the Scots for her marriage to James IV in order to end hostilities between the two countries. After a period of war, negotiations resumed, eventually culminating in the treaty of perpetual peace, of which Margaret’s marriage to James IV formed a part. The treaty was agreed in 1502, and on 15 January 1503, Margaret married James IV by proxy. She was thirteen years old. Margaret began her journey to Scotland in July, making a grand progress north in stages. She first met her husband at Dalkeith, where she stayed for three days before her entrance into Edinburgh. Determined to present himself as a model of chivalry and courtly love, the king visited her each day. They played cards together, and he performed on his lute for her. Margaret is said to have commented that his beard was too long, and James promptly had one of her ladies clip it short.

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About History Scotland

Five reasons not to miss July/August History Scotland * 19 archaeology projects to enjoy this summer * BRAND NEW research on the life of Margaret Tudor * Exclusive curator preview of the major new exhibition Wild and Majestic and National Museums Scotland * BONUS CONTENT Videos, interview * The unexpected Darien hero - Captain Robert Pincarton