Book Review: Margaret Tudor – The Life of Henry VIII’s Sister

Jane Seymour (2)

Margaret Tudor was an English Princess and daughter of the first Tudor monarch, King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York; Margaret was the sister of King Henry VIII and married King James IV of Scotland – did I mention she was also mother of King James V?

I was approached by Pens & Sword History to write a review on the book?Margaret Tudor: The Life of Henry VIII’s Sister?by author and historian Melanie Clegg, and happily accepted the opportunity to learn more about one of the Tudor siblings. I tend to focus on the life of her brother and so I found this as a great opportunity to learn more about this magnificent woman.

Excerpt from Amazon.com:

When the thirteen year old Margaret Tudor, eldest daughter of Henry VII and his wife Elizabeth of York, married King James IV of Scotland in a magnificent proxy ceremony held at Richmond Palace in January 1503, no one could have guessed that this pretty, redheaded princess would go on to have a marital career as dramatic and chequered as that of her younger brother Henry VIII.

Left widowed at the age of just twenty three after her husband was killed by her brother?s army at the battle of Flodden, Margaret was made Regent for her young son and was temporarily the most powerful woman in Scotland – until she fell in love with the wrong man, lost everything and was forced to flee the country. In a life that foreshadowed that of her tragic, fascinating granddaughter Mary Queen of Scots, Margaret hurtled from one disaster to the next and ended her life abandoned by virtually everyone: a victim both of her own poor life choices and of the simmering hostility between her son, James V and her brother, Henry VIII.

My Review:

Margaret Tudor, if she had been born male, would have been no different from any other King of England, and if she lived in the modern world may have been a force to be reckoned with. When I read books about royal women who are ruled by men it leaves me frustrated. Frustrated for them, that is. In this book I put myself in Margaret’s shoes and felt the frustration when her conniving husbands stole her money (which, by the way they could because men ruled women) and left her nearly penniless. It was in those moments that you see a Margaret Tudor who was very much like her brother Henry. She was also fiercely protective of her children.

Margaret was not afraid to ask her brother Henry VIII for help when she needed it. It appears that she took her role in Scotland very seriously and wished to keep relations between the two countries stable. Unfortunately for Margaret, both her brother and first husband, King James IV of Scotland were men who did not back down from a fight.

Because of this book I now look at James IV much differently than I used to, and this has piqued my interested to learn more about him. He appears to have been good to his queen consort even though he had mistresses and many illegitimate children. Something Margaret, like her grandmother Elizabeth Woodville, learned to live with because she was treated so well.

When James IV was killed at the Battle of Flodden the Regent in England (Katherine of Aragon) contemplated sending the dead king’s body to her husband while he was fighting in France, but instead only sent his blood-stained surcoat. I was very interested in how the author described how Henry VIII would have reacted had she sent the body…but I do not want to ruin the story for you.

This story is a quick and entertaining read and is well-written and researched. At moments I nearly forgot I was reading non-fiction because Clegg did such an amazing job putting together all the pieces and painting a picture of Margaret’s life in detail.

What did I take from this book??Margaret had the Tudor fiery temper and stubbornness. She also ruled with the heart, something her granddaughter (Mary, Queen of Scots) would be claimed of as well.

If you love to learn about the Tudor dynasty I highly recommend buying this book. This book will be released in the US on January 4th.

Amazon – US (discounted pre-order price available now!)

Amazon – UK

Tudors Dynasty Podcast – Episode Two: The King and His Early Victories

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Hello! I have launched my second podcast! Creating these podcasts takes many hours of research and writing, not to mention the time it takes to record and edit the audio – with all that being said, I love producing these for you…I never thought I would say that.

In order to continue making these podcasts and producing more than two per month I need you, my fans, to participate by becoming members. If you enjoy the articles I write for you on my website and share on social media you should really become a member. Not only will you have access to all my podcasts but you will also receive other content that is not available on TudorsDynasty.com.

If you’re interested in learning more, please check out my #Patreon page at: https://www.patreon.com/tudorsdynasty – if you sign up at the $1 per month level you would be allowing me to spend A LOT more time researching and providing you with more Tudor stories. AND, I will give you a name mention as a member who has made this all possible!

This is what the page looks like, all you have to do is click on “Become a patron” and then choose the level you’d like to be at – each level unlocks more prizes for you each month!

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Here is the first podcast that is available for free to everyone – all future podcasts will require only $1 per month membership.

Thank you so much for all the support you’ve given me over the past couple years. I’ve been working hard to learn more every day so I can provide you with facts and stories that you may not have heard before. This growth project will only continue to bring you more!

-Rebecca

 

Book Review: The Forgotten Tudor Women

 

Jane Seymour (3)While searching for books to add to my Christmas list I came across The Forgotten Tudor Women by Silvia Barbara Soberton. The book intrigued me because it was about three women in Tudor history that we often don’t hear enough about – Margaret Douglas, Mary Howard and Mary Shelton.

As you probably already know I recently wrote an article about Mary Howard and really enjoyed learning more about her during my research. All I had known prior to researching her was that she was married to Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy – that’s it.

When I opened the first present from my husband on Christmas Eve I saw that it was the book I had requested, The Forgotten Tudor Women – to my surprise it was fairly thin book and when I opened it I was a little discouraged to find that it was double-spaced. It felt very primary school (like the Judy Blume books) from the get go, but I pushed forward and started reading it nonetheless because I have an insatiable appetite?for knowledge.

I soon got over the double-spacing and enjoyed the writing style of Ms. Soberton. If you’re looking to learn more about what it was like to be a ‘privileged’ woman during the Tudor reign, I’d highly suggest this book. At only 204 pages it is a very quick, and easy read.

In this book we learn more about Margaret Douglas, who (to me) seems to have a life that parallels her niece?Mary, Queen of Scots when it comes to following her heart and the tragedies that follow. While reading this book I truly felt grief for Margaret and how many times her heart was broken. She was the daughter of Henry VIII’s older sister, Margaret Tudor, who became Queen of Scots herself when she married James IV. Margaret Douglas was royalty and should have been treated as such, but as we know from the history of the Tudors, having royal blood is sometimes a curse instead of a blessing.

Mary Howard is a seldom heard about figure in Tudor history and that’s an unfortunate thing. She is a fascinating woman and there needs to be a movie made about her life. She was daughter of the Duke of Norfolk, sister to the Earl of Surrey, cousin to Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard – and not to forget, daughter-in-law to King Henry VIII himself. We follow her story through the death of her husband Henry Fitzroy and the struggles she had as an intelligent woman in a society that frowned upon women having knowledge…or opinions. She fought for everything that she wanted in her life and we learn about all the struggles she faced after Fitzroy’s death. ?Mary Howard was a fighter and this book made me like her even more than I had before reading it.

On the other hand I was a little disappointed by the story that was told about Mary Shelton. Mary Shelton was a mistress of Henry VIII and cousin to Anne Boleyn. I was hoping to learn more about her like I had with Margaret Douglas and Mary Howard. The feeling I got was that there weren’t any interesting stories to be told about Mary Shelton. Her life wasn’t as scandalous and it left me wanting more. With that being said, the one piece of evidence about her life that I wasn’t familiar with was the fact that Henry VIII had considered her for a fourth wife before he was betrothed to Anne of Cleves. In a nutshell, I probably couldn’t tell you much about Mary Shelton after reading this book – that’s not to say there wasn’t anything written about her, but that I remembered a lot more about Margaret Douglas and Mary Howard after putting the book down.

Overall it was a good book, and was interesting to see how the three ladies lives intertwined and how they lived during a period in history where being an intelligent woman and having your own ideas was frowned upon by their male counterparts.

I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

 

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

The Thistle and The Rose Wed

8 August 1503 – The formal wedding of Margaret Tudor and James IV of Scotland in the chapel of Holyroodhouse.

James IV & Margaret Tudor-marriage procession
James IV & Margaret Tudor-marriage procession

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From History Today, by Richard Cavendish:

The union of the thistle and the rose was celebrated next morning in the chapel of Holyroodhouse. Margaret wore a gown trimmed in crimson and the Countess of Surrey bore her train, while James was magnificent in white damask with crimson satin sleeves. After the marriage ceremony conducted by the archbishops of Glasgow and York there was a nuptial mass and a short coronation ritual, with the King’s arm round his new queen’s waist much of the time. There followed a splendid feast of fifty or sixty dishes including roast crane and roast swan, and then dancing and supper until finally at last ‘the King had the Queen apart and they went together’. Edinburgh blazed with bonfires that night.

published by John Thane, line engraving, published 1796
published by John Thane, line engraving, published 1796