Margaret Tudor

Portrait of Margaret Tudor by Daniel Mytens (c. 1620–1638). Image Credit: WikiCommons.

By Johanna Strong

Margaret Tudor was the eldest daughter of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. She was born in Westminster Palace on 28th November 1489 and was named for her paternal grandmother, Margaret Beaufort. She was the first of Henry VII’s daughters to become a consort queen.

Margaret’s early years were spent at Sheen Palace with her brothers, Arthur and Henry, but the royal nursery eventually moved to Eltham Palace. There, Margaret learned how to play the lute and the clavichord and developed her skills in Latin and French.

Margaret’s marriage was of the upmost importance. Initially Christian of Denmark was considered by Henry VII soon looked closer to home and chose James IV of Scotland. When the proxy marriage took place in 1503, Margaret was thirteen and James was thirty.

Portrait of James IV. Image Credit: WikiCommons.

It is unknown when the pair began their physical relationship but, by 1507, Margaret was having children at regular intervals. Only her middle son, James, survived beyond infancy and he succeeded his father in 1513 when James IV fell at the Battle of Flodden Field.

Portrait of James V. Image Credit: WikiCommons.

Margaret was named regent and a council of nobles was convened to help her rule. She was mistrusted by the Scots, however, and dissidents coalesced around a rival regent – John Stewart, 2nd Duke of Albany – with whom Margaret would do battle over her son in the coming years.

John Faed, Queen Margaret’s Defiance of the Scottish Parliament; National Galleries of Scotland;

James IV stipulated that Margaret could only remain regent if she did not marry again so her marriage to the Earl of Angus, an attempt to gain powerful allies, only served to disbar her from the regency. Her second marriage was an unhappy one, blighted by his infidelities.

Portrait of the Earl of Angus, Margaret’s second husband. Image Credit: WikiCommons.

In 1524, Margaret finally succeeded in ousting Albany from power. Later that year, James’ minority was ended but he still continued to be dominated by others, including Margaret and later Angus. Margaret ultimately divorced Angus but her third marriage to Lord Methven was just as disastrous.

Margaret died at Methven Castle on 18th October 1541, most probably from a stroke. In her last years she was an obscure figure, lonely, and unhappy. She left behind James V and a daughter from her marriage to Angus, Margaret Douglas, who was to be the grandmother of James VI.

Recommended Reading

Amy Hayes, “The late medieval Scottish Queen, c. 1371-c.1513” (PhD thesis, University of Aberdeen, 2016)

Helen Newsome, “sche that schuld be medyatryce In thyr matars’: Performances of mediation in the letters of Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scots (1489-1541)’ (PhD thesis, University of Sheffield, 2019)

Helen Newsome, “The function, format, and performance of Margaret Tudor’s January 1522 diplomatic memorial,” Renaissance Studies 35.3 (2020): 403-424

Ken Emond, The Minority of James V: Scotland in Europe, 1513-1528 (Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2019)

Melanie Clegg, Margaret Tudor: The Life of Henry VIII’s Sister (Barnsley: Pen & Sword, 2018)

Michelle L. Beer, Queenship at the Renaissance Courts of Britain. Catherine of Aragon and Margaret Tudor, 1503-1533 (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2018).

%d bloggers like this: