Book Review: “La Reine Blanche” by Sarah Bryson

Of the two surviving sisters of Henry VIII, his younger sister Mary was by far his favorite. Nothing shows that more than when he forgave her for secretly marrying Charles Brandon before returning from France after the death of her first husband, King Louis XII of France.

When I heard that author Sarah Bryson was releasing a book about Mary Tudor I was excited to learn more about the Tudor princess and French queen. She has fascinated me since her amalgamation in Showtime’s “The Tudors”. I say amalgamation because the character on the series was a combination of both Mary and Margaret Tudor. If you’re not familiar with the actual history of Mary Tudor the show’s story line will utterly confuse you. The biggest fictionalization (in my opinion) was when Mary, at eighteen years old married the King of Portugal. I’m really not sure why the writers of the series chose Portugal and not the King of France. In all the reading I do on the Tudor dynasty I have never come across any mention of Manuel I of Portugal. What we didn’t learn from that series is what an amazing person Mary Tudor was.

With all this in mind I was eager to learn more facts about the life of Mary Tudor, Queen of France.

Description of book:

Mary Tudor’s childhood was overshadowed by the men in her life: her father, Henry VII, and her brothers Arthur, heir to the Tudor throne, and Henry VIII. These men and the beliefs held about women at the time helped to shape Mary’s life. She was trained to be a dutiful wife and at the age of eighteen Mary married the French king, Louis XII, thirty-four years her senior. When her husband died three months after the marriage, Mary took charge of her life and shaped her own destiny. As a young widow, Mary blossomed. This was the opportunity to show the world the strong, self-willed, determined woman she always had been. She remarried for love and at great personal risk to herself. She loved and respected Katherine of Aragon and despised Anne Boleyn – again, a dangerous position to take. Author Sarah Bryson has returned to primary sources, state papers and letters, to unearth the truth about this intelligent and passionate woman. This is the story of Mary Tudor, told through her own words for the first time.

I ordered this book directly through Amberley Publishing in England because it is not released in the U.S. until June 2018.

Review:

Sarah Bryson did a phenomenal job bringing to life one of the lesser written about women of Tudor court, Mary Tudor.  While many of us are aware of who Mary Tudor was we might not know very much about her life. Mary was beautiful, well-liked and smart.

La Reine Blanche: Mary Tudor, A Life in Letters is just that, a book about the life of Mary Tudor (sister of Henry VIII) supplemented by letters. Bryson did a lot of research to be able to show us the most comprehensive look at the beautiful English princess to date.

Katherine of Aragon, Henry VIII, Francis I, Cardinal Wolsey, Charles Brandon and a plethora of other Tudor figures make an appearance in this book. It’s interesting to see how they all interacted with Mary throughout her life. It’s also interesting to see how close Mary had become with the children of her husband’s from his marriage with Anne Browne – she was indeed a kind stepmother.

Mary’s life wasn’t without adversity and Bryson did a brilliant job bringing it all to life for the reader. I was moved at the loss of her son with Brandon. As a mother, my heart breaks every time a parent loses a child.

I was pleasantly surprised by Mary’s relationship with her first husband, King Louis XII of France. I had previously known that she went into the marriage with an open mind but had no idea of her feelings for the King until reading this book.

If you’re as obsessed with the Tudor period as I am then you’ll love this book. It’s also a great book to read if you’re interested in French traditions.

Interested in learning more? Here is Sarah Bryson’s guest post for my site: The Princess and the Knight

Buy This Book

Amazon.com (available June 1, 2018 – Pre-order today!)

Amazon.co.uk (available now)

Book Depository (available now)

Author Bio:

Sarah Bryson is a researcher, writer and educator who has a Bachelor of Early Childhood
Education with Honours. She currently works with children with disabilities. She is
passionate about Tudor history and has a deep interest in Mary Tudor, Charles Brandon,
Duke of Suffolk and the reign of Henry VIII and the people of his court. She has run a
website dedicated to Tudor history for many years and has written for various websites
including ‘On the Tudor Trail’ and ‘QueenAnneBoleyn’. She has been studying primary
sources to tell the story of Mary Tudor for a decade. Sarah lives in Australia, enjoys reading,
writing and Tudor costume enactment.

Links:

Website: https://sarah-bryson.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SarahBryson44/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SarahBryson44

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Thomas Cromwell: Downfall and Execution

Thomas Cromwell was Henry VIII’s champion when it came to Anne Boleyn – he also assisted in the downfall of Anne. It appears to us now that Cromwell knew how to survive at the court of Henry VIII….for awhile, at least.

It wasn’t until Anne of Cleves that thing start to sour for Cromwell. When Henry VIII felt rejected by his new Queen he turned on Cromwell, blaming him for everything. As we all know the King rarely accepted blame in anything and those closest to him were most affected by his anger. Many have tried to say that the reason behind Cromwell’s downfall is what happened with Anne of Cleves – but if you read the below “Bill of Attainder” you will see no mention of Anne of Cleves. None. In my opinion, Cromwell’s downfall was not much different from Wolsey’s. As in Thomas Wolsey’s case, many thought Cromwell, who had come from nothing, had too much control over the King. Even though the King allowed it because he always behaved as though he couldn’t be bothered with running the Kingdom.



 Letter – 10 June 1540 Charles de Marillac (French ambassador) to King Francis I:

Joos van Cleve - Portrait of Francis I, King of France (ca. 1532-1533)
Joos van Cleve – Portrait of Francis I, King of France (ca. 1532-1533)

[London,] – Has just heard that Thomas Cramvel, keeper of the Privy Seal and Vicar-General of the Spiritualty, who, since the Cardinal’s death, had the principal management of the atfairs of this kingdom, and had been newly made Grand Chamberlain, was, an hour ago, led prisoner to the Tower and all his goods attached. Although this might be thought a private matter and of little importance, inasmuch as they have only reduced thus a personage to the state from which they raised him and treated him as hitherto everyone said he deserved, yet, considering that public affairs thereby entirely change their course, especially as regards the innovations in religion of which Cromwell was principal author, the news seems of such importance that it ought to be written forthwith. Can add nothing but that no articles of religion are yet concluded, and that the bishops are daily assembled to resolve them, and meanwhile Parliament continues.

Was on the point of closing this when a gentleman of this Court came to say from the King that Marillac should not be astonished because Cromwell was sent to the Tower, and that, as the common, ignorant, people spoke of it variously, he (the King) wished Marillac to know the truth. The substance was that the King, wishing by all possible means to lead back religion to the way of truth, Cromwell, as attached to the German Lutherans, had always favoured the doctors who preached such erroneous opinions and hindered those who preached the contrary, and that recently, warned by some of his principal servants to reflect that he was working against the intention of the King and of the Acts of Parliament, he had betrayed himself and said he hoped to suppress the old preachers and have only the new, adding that the affair would soon be brought to such a pass that the King with all his power could not prevent it, but rather his own party would be so strong that he would make the King descend to the new doctrines even if he had to take arms against him. These plots were told the King by those who heard them and who esteemed their fealty more than the favour of their master. The King also sent word that when he spoke with Marillac he would tell things which would show “combien grande a este la coulpe dudit Cramvel — (blank) du dit seigneur a si long temps sceu le dissimuler et la juste occasion de maintenant y avoir donné ordre.”
French. Modern transcript, pp. 3

(‘Henry VIII: June 1540, 1-10’, in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 15, 1540, ed. James Gairdner and R H Brodie (London, 1896), pp. 349-364)



Letter – 11 June 1540; Thomas Cranmer to Henry VIII:

690px-thomas_cranmer_by_gerlach_flicke
Cranmer – Portrait by Gerlach Flicke (1545)

Heard yesterday in the King’s Council that Cromwell is a traitor. Expresses his amazement and grief that he should be a traitor who was so advanced by the King and cared for no man’s displeasure to serve him, and was so vigilant to detect treason that King John, Henry II., and Richard II., had they had such a councillor, would never have been so overthrown as they were. Loved him as a friend, and the more for the love he seemed to bear the King; and now, although glad that his treason is discovered, is very sorrowful; for whom shall the King trust hereafter? Prays God to send the King a councillor he can trust, and who, for all his qualities, can serve like him.
A fragment.

(‘Henry VIII: June 1540, 11-20’, in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 15, 1540, ed. James Gairdner and R H Brodie (London, 1896), pp. 364-376)

Letter – 12 June 1540; Cromwell to Henry VIII:

Portrait of Thomas Cromwell,
Hans Holbein the Younger, (1532–1533)

Prostrate at your Majesty’s feet, I have heard your pleasure by your Controller, viz., that I should write such things as I thought meet concerning my most miserable state. And (1) where I have been accused of treason, I never in all my life thought to displease your Majesty; much less to do or say “that thing which of itself is so high and abominable offence.” Your Grace knows my accusers, God forgive them. If it were in my power to make you live for ever, God knows I would; or to make you so rich that you should enrich all men, or so powerful that all the world should obey you. For your Majesty has been most bountiful to me, and more like a father than a master. I ask you mercy where I have offended. Never spoke with the Chancellor of the Augmentations and Frogmerton together at a time; but if I did, I never spoke of any such matter. Your Grace knows what manner of man Throgmerton has ever been towards you and your proceedings. What Master Chancellor has been to me, God and he know best; what I have been to him your Majesty knows. If I had obeyed your often most gracious counsels it would not have been with me as now it is. But I have committed my soul to God, my body and goods to your pleasure. As for the Commonwealth, I have done my best, and no one can justly accuse me of having done wrong wilfully. If I heard of any combinations or offenders against the laws, I have for the most part (though not as I should have done) revealed and caused them to be punished. But I have meddled in so many matters, I cannot answer all.

The Controller showed me that you complained that within these 14 days I had revealed a matter of great secrecy. I remember the matter, but I never revealed it. After your Grace had spoken to me in your chamber of the things you misliked in the Queen, I told you she often desired to speak with me, but I durst not, and you thought I might do much good by going to her and telling her my mind. Lacking opportunity I spoke with her lord Chamberlain, for which I ask your mercy, to induce her to behave pleasantly towards you. I repeated the suggestion, when the lord Chamberlain and others of her council came to me at Westminster for licence for the departure of the strange maidens. This was before your Grace committed the secret matter to me, which I never disclosed to any but my lord Admiral, by your commandment on Sunday last; whom I found equally willing to seek a remedy for your comfort, saying he would spend the best blood in his belly for that object.

Was also accused at his examination of retaining contrary to the laws. Denies that he ever retained any except his household servants, but it was against his will. Was so besought by persons who said they were his friends that he received their children and friends—not as retainers, for their fathers and parents did find them; but if he have offended, desires pardon. Acknowledges himself a miserable sinner towards God and the King, but never wilfully. Desires prosperity for the King and Prince.

“Written with the quaking hand and most sorrowful heart of your most sorrowful subject, and most humble servant and prisoner, this Saturday at your [Tower] of London.”

(‘Henry VIII: June 1540, 11-20’, in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 15, 1540, ed. James Gairdner and R H Brodie (London, 1896), pp. 364-376)



Bill of Attainder of Thomas Cromwell: 29 June 1540 (passed)

Attainder of Thomas Crumwell, earl of Essex, whom the King has raised from a very base and low degree to the state of an earl, and who nevertheless, as is proved by many “personages of great honor, worship, and discretion,” has been the most detestable traitor that has been seen during the King’s reign, and has of his own authority set at liberty divers persons convicted of misprision of treason and others apprehended upon suspicion of treason; and also has, for sums of money, granted licences for the export of money, corn, &c., contrary to the King’s proclamations; and also has appointed commissioners in important affairs without the King’s knowledge; and also “being a person of as poor and low degree as few be” within this realm, has said publicly, “That he was sure of you” (i.e. the King), and it is detestable that any subject should speak so of his sovereign; and also has give passports to divers persons to go over sea without search; and also, being a detestable heretic, has dispersed into all shires false and erroneous books, many of which were printed beyond seas, tending to the discredit of the blessed sacrament of the altar and other articles of religion declared by the King by the authority of Parliament, and has caused parts of the said books to be translated into English, and although the report made by the translator thereof has been that the matter was expressly against the sacrament of the altar, has, after reading the translation, affirmed the heresy so translated to be good; and also has obstinately maintained that every Christian may be a minister of the said sacrament as well as a priest; and also, being the King’s vicegerent to reform errors and direct ecclesiastical causes, has, without the King’s knowledge, licensed heretics to preach and teach, and has actually written to sheriffs in sundry shires, as if it were the King’s pleasure, to set at large many false heretics; and also upon complaints being made to him of heretics, has defended the said heretics, and rebuked the credible persons, their accusers, &c.; and moreover, 31 March 30 Hen. VIII., in the parish of St. Peter the Poor in London, upon information made to him against certain new preachers, as Robert Barnes and other, whereof part be now in the Tower for preaching against the King’s proclamations, did arrogantly say in defence of their preaching, “That if the King would turn from it, yet I would not turn; and if the King did turn and all his people I would fight in the field in my own person with my sword in my hand against him and all other,” and held up his dagger saying, “Or else this dagger thrust me to the heart if I would not die in that quarrel against them all; and I trust if I live one year or two it shall not lie in the King’s power to resist or let it if he would,” and affirming the words by a great oath, &c.; and moreover by bribery and extortion he obtained innumerable sums of money, and, being so enriched, has held the nobles of the Realm in great disdain, “and being put in remembrance of others of his estate which your Highness hath called him unto offending in like treasons,” said, 31 Jan. 31 Hen. VIII., in the parish of St. Martin in the Fields, Midd., “That if the lords would handle him so, that he would give them such a breakfast as never was made in England, and that the proudest of them should know.” To suffer as a heretic or traitor, at the King’s pleasure, and forfeit all property held since 31 March 30 Hen. VIII. Saving clause excepting the deanery of Wells from forfeiture.
(‘Henry VIII: April 1540, 11-20’, in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 15, 1540, ed. James Gairdner and R H Brodie (London, 1896), pp. 209-251)



Nobility vs. Cromwell

… the nobility resented Cromwell’s influence with the king and his pro-monarchy, anti-nobility policy. And while many of the nobles benefited from the sale of clerical lands, many others had relatives dedicated to religious service. Also, reverence for the church and its servants was as deeply-held as reverence for the monarchy. Henry’s attacks upon the church struck many as unnatural and wrong; since they could not turn on the king, they turned on Cromwell and blamed him for every unpopular policy. Henry VIII, who relished his popularity, allowed his faithful servant to be impugned. Thus, Henry could meet with his nobles, listen to their complaints, and even agree with them since many were his dearest friends. The king remained popular while his chief minister became increasingly despised and isolated. It is worth noting that one of Cromwell’s friends, Richard Moryson, argued that merit and not birth should be the only qualification for entry into the privy council. Moryson eventually became a member himself. (https://englishhistory.net/tudor/thomas-cromwell/)

The Day of Execution: 28 July 1540

Translated from Hall Chronicle the best I can into modern day language:

I have come here to die and not to unburden myself as some might think. I am condemned by law to die and my Lord God who has appointed me to this death for my offense. Since the time that I have had years of discretion I have lived as a sinner and offended my Lord God and now I ask him for forgiveness for my offenses. I ask you all to pray for me. Oh Father forgive me. Oh Son forgive me. Oh Holy Ghost forgive me. Oh three persons in one God forgive me. And now I pray that all of you here bear witness that I die in the Catholic faith not doubting once in my faith nor doubting in any sacrament of the Church. Many people have slandered me and reported that I have been a bearer of such as have maintained evil opinions that are untrue, but I confess that like God by his Holy Spirit doth instruct us in the truth so the devil is ready to seduce us, and I have been seduced. Bear me witness that I die in the Catholic faith of the Holy Church. I desire you to pray for the King, that he may live long with you, in health and prosperity. After him that his son, Prince Edward, may long reign over you. And once again I desire you to pray for me, that so long as life remains in the flesh I will not waver in my faith.

And then made he his prayer, which was long, but not so long, as both Godly and learned, and after committed his soul into the hands of God and so patiently suffered the stroke of the axe, by a ragged butcherly miser, which very ungoodly performed office. (Hall’s Chronical; Hall, Edward, d. 1547)

After Cromwell

HenryVIII2_1389961fIt was not long after the execution of Cromwell that ambassador Marillac had commented in a letter that Henry VIII was upset about the loss of Cromwell. Just as the King later lamented over the death of Wolsey he was now remorseful that Cromwell, the man who ‘helped’ him run the kingdom was now gone.

The most curious part of this all is that Henry VIII raised Cromwell to Earl of Essex on 18 April 1540 – it was less than three month later that Cromwell was dead. How and why did things change so quickly for him? Why would the King grant him the earldom if he was only going to have him executed?

This is always the most curious thing when talk about Henry VIII – the man was very unpredictable. What do you think? What happened in those two months that changed everything for Cromwell?


The Rise And Fall Of Thomas Cromwell HD by limoslight

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Mary Tudor: English Princess, French Queen

Mary’s Motto: “La volenté De Dieu me suffit”  - The will of God is sufficient for me.

Mary Tudor
Mary Tudor

Princess Mary Tudor was born on 18 March 1496 as the fifth of seven children to Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. Mary became a beautiful young lady and was considered to be one of the most attractive women in Europe, at the time. This is no surprise as the same was said about her mother, Elizabeth of York. Mary was only seven years old when her mother passed away.

As with her sister Margaret, Mary would play a pivotal role in political alliances. At the of age six, she was given her own household and was given instruction in French, Latin, music, dancing, and embroidery.

Henry, Duke of York (future Henry VIII) and Mary got along very well as children — they had a very close relationship.  It is said that Henry named the Mary Rose after his favorite sister and his daughter Mary as well.



Mary was initially betrothed to the future Charles V of Spain (in 1507) and after many delays, Henry VIII called off the betrothal. The next alliance and betrothal for Mary (at 18 years old) was with the French king, Louis XII. He was 34 years her senior. King Louis had no heir and needed one quickly because his health was failing fast. This was a great alliance for Henry VIII — to have France as an ally would be convenient for England. At the time, young Princess Mary was already head-over-heals in love with Henry’s best friend, Charles Brandon — marrying Charles was out of the question since he was below her station and not of noble birth.

Mary refused to wed the French king, weeping and sulking, and demanding to be allowed to marry Charles. Of course, her brother refused. So, Mary struck a deal with Henry: she would do her princess duty and marry the French King. But, if she were to outlive Louis – which was very likely – she wanted her next husband to be one of her own choosing. Henry agreed, quite possibly with the intention of never honoring his promise.” – Quoted via TudorHistory.org

On 9 October 1514, Princess Mary wed the King of France – Louis XII, and became Queen (consort) of France. Louis had no living son and it was imperative that they produce an heir soon after the wedding. Mary knew that her “elderly” husband was ill — if she became pregnant with a son and Louis died, that son would be the next ruler and she, most likely regent.

On 1 January 1515, almost three months after their wedding, King Louis XII died. Mary reputedly wore out the king by his exertions in the bedroom to produce an heir. Their marriage produced no heirs and Mary was called, Dowager Queen after Louis’ death.



The new king of France, Francis I, attempted to arrange a second marriage for the Dowager Queen, but she only wanted Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. Her brother, Henry VIII had agreed that she could marry whomever she liked after the death of Louis. Little did she know, Henry would not stand by his promise. In late January 1515, Henry VIII sent Charles Brandon to bring Mary back to England — he made the Duke promise that he would not propose to her.[1] 

Mary_Tudor_and_Charles_BrandonWhen Charles Brandon arrived in France, Mary quickly convinced him to abandon his agreement with the King of England. Mary had heard rumors that her brother, the king, was planning a new marriage for her and would not follow through on his original promise. Having heard those rumors, Mary and Charles committed treason by secretly marrying, on 3 March 1515, (in the presence of King Francis I) since they did not get permission from Henry to wed.

Henry VIII was furious when he found out his best friend, and favorite sister married without his approval, or permission.  Henry’s initial reaction was to remove Charles’ head from his body – but after much thought and time he only fined his favorites and allowed them to officially wed in England on 13 May 1515 in the presence of the king himself, and other courtiers.  Mary became the Duchess of Suffolk, but was still called the french queen. Being a queen outranked being a duchess, and it was a reminder to Mary that she married below her station. Did it really bother her? Probably not, since she got her way.

Charles and Mary went on to have four children – their first, a son (1516) – named Henry after the King. Their second child was a daughter, Frances (1517), reportedly named after the king of France who allowed them to wed in the first place. In 1519, they had another daughter, Eleanor, and in 1523 another son named Henry (after their first son had died in 1522).

On 25 June 1533, Mary Tudor died at her home at Westhorpe Hall – she was 37 years old. She was laid to rest in the abbey at Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk. She was moved to St Mary’s Church in Bury St Edmunds during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Mary’s Legacy: Mary’s granddaughter, Lady Jane Grey, became the Nine Day Queen after the death of Edward VI in 1553. Lady Jane Grey was overthrown by Mary, who became Mary I, and was executed on the 12th February 1554 after being convicted of treason. [2]

Sources:

http://tudorhistory.org/people/mary2/
Stephen, Leslie. Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 36 pp. 397-400 MacMillan: London, 1893
[1] Weir, “Henry VIII,” p. 178
[2] Read more: http://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/princess-mary-tudor/#ixzz3qMH4tvvO

You just read Part 5 of the Series –  Part 5: Mary Tudor, 5th child and third daughter of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. She was the last to survive infancy.

Catch up here:

Part 1: The Redemption of Elizabeth of York
Part 2: Arthur: The Man Who Would Be King
Part 3: The Thistle and the Rose: English Princess, Scottish Queen
Part 4: The Legacy of Henry VIII



The Thistle and the Rose: English Princess, Scottish Queen



Part 3: Margaret Tudor, 2nd child and first daughter of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York (written October 2015)

Three Children of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York Wellcome L0021667
Henry, Arthur & Margaret – Credit: Wellcome Library, London

On 28 November 1489, Henry VII and Elizabeth of York welcomed their first daughter, Princess Margaret. Margaret was named after her paternal grandmother Margaret Beaufort and was baptized at St. Margaret’s Church in Westminster.

As a princess, Margaret would play a pivotal role in political alliances. By Margaret’s sixth birthday her father had already considered a marriage to James IV of Scotland as a way of ending his support for Perkin Warbeck.

by Frank Cadogen Cowper
Margaret & Henry – by Frank Cadogen Cowper

On 24 January 1502, England and Scotland completed the Treaty of Perpetual Peace – the first time a peace treaty was agreed upon between the two countries in nearly two centuries. The treaty included the betrothal of  Princess Margaret to James IV. With this arrangement there would be peace between the two countries.

The marriage of the thistle and the rose was finalized by proxy on 25 January 1503, at Richmond Palace. Patrick, Earl of Bothwell was proxy for the Scottish king, James IV. When the ceremony was concluded Margaret was hence forth called Queen of Scots.

The Thistle and the Rose 

The thistle is the symbol of Scotland, while the rose is the symbol of England.

Dimidiated Rose and Thistle Badge
Image Courtesy: Sodacan
It wasn’t until August of that year that their marriage was celebrated in person at Holyrood Abbey in Edinburgh.

The couple was married nearly a decade and even though it was a political match Margaret grew to love her husband, just as her mother did her father.

Margaret gave James IV six children, but only one of the six children would survive — he became James V of Scotland when he was only 17 months old.

(Information via Wikipedia)

  • James, Duke of Rothesay (21 February 1507, Holyrood Palace – 27 February 1508, Stirling Castle).
  • Daughter (died shortly after birth 15 July 1508, Holyrood Palace).
  • Arthur Stewart, Duke of Rothesay (20 October 1509, Holyrood Palace – 14 July 1510, Edinburgh Castle).
  • James V (10 April 1512, Linlithgow Palace – 14 December 1542, Falkland Palace).
  • Daughter (died shortly after birth November 1512, Holyrood Palace).
  • Alexander Stewart, Duke of Ross (30 April 1514, Stirling Castle – 18 December 1515, Stirling Castle).

James IV was killed during the Battle of Flodden in 1513 when Scotland took advantage of the absent Henry VIII and entered England. Margaret’s sister-in-law, Katherine of Aragon was ruling as regent in England during the absence of her husband, Henry VIII in France. Katherine celebrated the death of the Scottish King by sending her husband the bloody surcoat of James IV to prove his death. Katherine also suggested that Henry use the coat as a battle banner while at the siege of Thérouanne in France to show his conquest.

Death of the Thistle

At the time of James IV’s death, Queen Margaret was only twenty-three years old. Their son James was crowned King of Scotland  on 21 September 1513, and Margaret was allowed to act as regent, per her late husband’s will – as long as she did not remarry. At the time of the king’s death Margaret was pregnant with his child, Alexander.

When Margaret was appointed regent over her young son it caused a riff among the Scottish people since Margaret was English and a woman. England was the enemy. They had just murdered the King of Scotland.

A faction of pro-French nobles wanted Margaret removed as regent and replaced with John Stewart, 2nd Duke of Albany. John was the closest male relative to the infant prince, and now third in line to the throne.

By June 1514, Margaret had managed to reconcile with the parties, and Scotland and France agreed upon peace that same month. In Margaret’s quest for political alliances she found herself drawn toward the House of Douglas, and in particular Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus, to whom she was attracted.

Regent No More

Margaret made a fateful decision, on 6 August 1514, she secretly wed the Earl of Angus. By marrying Angus she defied the conditions of her late husband’s will and forfeited her right to be regent over her infant son. The Privy Council declared she could no longer hold the position, and in addition, she lost her rights to supervision of her sons (James & Alexander). Had she obtained permission to remarry things may have turned out differently. In defiance of the Privy Council, Margaret fled with her sons to Stirling Castle.

Margaret tries to keep her sons from Angus.
Painting of Margaret, refusing to hand over custody of her sons to John Stewart, Duke of Albany, by John Faed, 1859.

Eventually, Margaret returned her sons to the new regent. She was now pregnant with the Earl of Angus’ child and they fled to England. The two settled at Harbottle Castle in the north of England in September 1515. It was there on 8 October 1515, that Margaret gave birth to their daughter, Margaret Douglas.

Margaret’s marriage with Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus had fallen apart – Margaret fought for a divorce, asking her brother Henry VIII for help obtaining one –  the English King would not oblige.

In October 1518, Margaret wrote to her brother (Henry VIII):

“I am sore troubled with my Lord of Angus since my last coming into Scotland, and every day more and more, so that we have not been together this half year… I am so minded that, an I may by law of God and to my honour, to part with him, for I wit well he loves me not, as he shows me daily.”

Margaret Tudor, dated c. 1520-1538, by Daniel Mytens.
Margaret Tudor, dated c. 1520-1538, by Daniel Mytens.

By March 1527, Margaret was finally obtained an annulment of her second marriage to the Earl of Angus, and the following April she married Henry Steward. Without obtaining permission to marry Margaret and doing so in secret, Henry Steward was arrested by the Earl of Angus.

In 1528, James V turned 16 years old and proclaimed his majority as king and removed his former step-father Angus from power. James V in turn titled his new step-father, James Steward — Lord Methven.

Margaret was once again in the good graces of her son, and hoped to convince him to improve Scotland’s relationship with England — James had other plans. He wanted an alliance with France, and so he married the daughter of Francis I – Princess Madeleine.

Unfortunately James’ marriage to Madeleine was short-lived and she passed away in July of the same year. After the death of his new bride, James V sought a second french bride.  He married Marie de Guise.  Marie and James would go on to have Mary, Queen of Scots.

Margaret’s third marriage came to the same end as her second. She wished to divorce Lord Methven, but her son would not agree to it.

Death of the Rose

On 18 October 1541, Margaret Tudor died in Methven Castle in Scotland, probably from a stroke. She was buried at the Carthusian Abbey of St. John’s in Perth, Scotland.

You just read Part 3 of the Series:

Read Part 1: The Redemption of Elizabeth of York
Read Part 2: Arthur, The Man Who Would Be King