August 6 – Margaret Tudor marries in secret

On this day in Tudor history, 6th August 1514, King Henry VIII’s sister, Margaret Tudor, widow of King James IV and Regent of Scotland, married secretly.

Margaret’s secret second marriage was to Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus, the most important Scottish magnate. The couple married at Kinnoull in Perthshire. When news got out, it led to Margaret losing the Regency of Scotland.

Find out what happened next, how things turned out with Margaret and Angus, and how and why Margaret sought refuge at the English court, in this video…

You can find out more about Margaret’s life in this video –


On this day in Tudor history, 6th August 1514, Margaret Tudor, sister of Henry VIII and Regent of Scotland, married Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus, the most important Scottish magnate, in a secret ceremony at Kinnoull in Perthshire.

Margaret was twenty-five at the time of the wedding and was a widow, having lost her first husband, King James IV of Scotland, at the Battle of Flodden on 13th September 1513. James’s forces had been defeated by the English forces of Margaret’s brother, Henry VIII, although the English king was away campaigning in France at the time. Margaret had two children by the time of her second marriage, two sons: James, the future King James V, and Alexander, Duke of Ross.

Angus was about 24/25 at the time of his wedding to Margaret and was also widowed, his wife having been Mary or Margaret Hepburn, daughter of Patrick Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell. Angus’s first marriage had been childless.

News of the Margaret’s marriage to Angus, whose uncle, the Provost of St Giles, described as a “young, witless fool”, was met with horror by the Scottish nobles. Margaret was acting as regent for her young son and they feared that Angus, as her husband, would influence her governance of the country. Just a month after the marriage, the Privy Council ruled that Margaret had acted against the terms of King James IV’s will and could no longer act as Regent. They appointed skilled soldier John Stewart, 2nd Duke of Albany, as regent in her place. However, Albany, who had grown up in France, was in France at the time and the Scots had to seek permission from France for him to leave, so Margaret took her sons to Stirling Castle and holed up there while she sought help from her brother, King Henry VIII, in restoring her regency.

The Duke of Albany landed on Scottish soil at Dumbarton in May 1515 accompanied by French soldiers. Henry VIII was unwilling to go to war with Scotland, who was supported by France, so he urged Margaret and Angus to flee with the young king and his brother to England.

Unfortunately for Margaret, she was eventually forced to hand over her sons to Albany. A heavily pregnant Margaret then fled to England on 30th September 1515 and on 7th October she gave birth at Harbottle Castle, in Northumberland, to a daughter, Lady Margaret Douglas. In the meantime, Angus and several supporters of Margaret tried to take custody of Margaret’s son, but failed. Angus came to visit Margaret, who was very ill following childbirth and had been moved to Morpeth, and reassured her that he would act on her behalf in Scotland. Sadly, in December 1515, Margaret’s youngest son, the Duke of Ross, died. It must have been heartbreaking news for her.

Following her recovery, Margaret travelled on to London, arriving there in May 1516, where she was greeted with celebratory jousts and banquets. She stayed at her brother’s court for a year. While she was in England, Angus reconciled with Albany and then set up home in his wife’s estate at Newark with Jane, daughter of the Laird of Traquair, with whom he had a daughter, Lady Janet Douglas. Margaret and Angus temporarily reconciled on her return to Scotland, following negotiations between England and Scotland, but Margaret’s thoughts turned to annulment. Margaret wrote to her brother and his advisor, Cardinal Wolsey, hoping for support with her situation, both marital and financial, but Henry wouldn’t play ball. Margaret and Angus reconciled once more in 1519, but Margaret became frustrated and angry with Angus’s affair and also his control over her financially, with him having taken her rents. With the Duke of Albany’s support, Margaret appealed to the pope for an annulment.

In 1522, Margaret’s husband was charged with treason and sent to France. However, Angus was only there for two years, returning with the support of Margaret’s brother, Henry VIII, in 1524. In early 1525, Margaret appealed to the pope once more for an annulment, claiming that her first husband, James IV, had not really been killed at Flodden and had been alive at the time of her second marriage. A strange appeal! February 1525, he entered Edinburgh with his supporters and called a parliament. Angus was successful in being appointed to the council of regency and in taking control of his stepson, the king.

Finally, in March 1527, Pope Clement VII granted Margaret an annulment, and in March 1528, Margaret married Henry Stewart, a man with whom she’d been linked romantically since 1525. In June 1528, sixteen-year-old King James V managed to escape from his stepfather’s custody dressed as a servant. He rode to Stirling, where he was reunited with his mother. Angus was forced to flee into exile in England after the king issued a decree of forfeiture against him, he didn’t return to Scotland until after the king’s death in late 1542. He died in 1557.
As for Margaret, her third marriage was unhappy too and she sought an annulment once more. However, her son would not support her so the matter was dropped. She was eventually reconciled with her husband and the king created Stewart Lord Methven and gave the couple Methven Castle in Perthshire. Margaret died there on 18th October 1541.

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