Margaret Tudor: Gateway to the United Kingdom, Part II: The Thistle and the Rose

Posted By on August 18, 2015

Margaret_Tudor_SketchToday we have part two of a series of three articles on Margaret Tudor by Heather R. Darsie. Thank you to Heather for writing these wonderful articles. Click here to read Part I.

In celebration of Margaret Tudor’s marriages – first to King James IV of Scotland on 8 August 1503 and then to Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus, on 6 August 1514 – we are going to take a look at the three phases of Margaret’s life, continuing today with her time as Queen of Scots.

The marriage of James IV, the Thistle, and Margaret Tudor, the Rose, was an attempt by Henry VII to bring peace to the bordering countries. Their marriage was celebrated by the poet William Dunbar, resident of James IV’s court, through his poem, “Thistle and the Rose”:

The merle [blackbird] scho [she]sang, ‘Haill, Roiss of most delyt,
Haill, of all flouris quene and soverane,’
The lark scho song, ‘Haill, Rois, both reid and quhyt [white],
Most plesand flour, of michty cullouris twane;’
The nychtingaill song, ‘Haill, naturis suffragene [representative],
In bewty, nurtour and every nobilness,
In riche array, renown, and gentilness.

The marriage of Queen Margaret facilitated peace between Scotland and England throughout the rest of her father’s life.

Margaret was crowned Queen of Scots at Edinburgh in March 1504. Margaret did not give birth to any children until 1507. Thereafter, Margaret gave birth to James, Duke of Rothesay, in 1507; a daughter in 1508; and Arthur Stewart, Duke of Rothesay, in 1509. Sadly, none of Margaret’s first three children survived infancy. It would be two-and-a-half years before Margaret would have another child. In April 1512, Margaret welcomed the future James V into the world. Their second daughter was born later in 1512 and passed away shortly after birth. Finally, Alexander Stewart, Duke of Ross, was born in 1514 but also died in infancy. However, Margaret continued to enjoy a caring relationship with James IV, of whom Erasmus commented that “[James IV] had wonderful powers of mind, an astonishing knowledge of everything, an unconquerable magnanimity and the most abundant generosity.”

The Scotland Queen Margaret knew was Catholic. Some of Martin Luther’s ideas had begun to trickle into the country. The Chepman and Myllar press was founded in Edinburgh in 1508 due to the patronage of James IV. A Catholic breviary, or priest’s handbook, printed by the Chepman and Myllar press exists to this day, showing that at least some form of religious text was being disseminated throughout Scotland while Margaret was queen.

James IV also renovated several palaces, including Stirling, Edinburgh and Linlithgow. Queen Margaret lived at these different castles throughout her time as queen consort. Margaret’s husband was known to speak English, Gaelic, German and other western European languages. Like Margaret, he could also speak French and Latin. Latin was an international language, much like English is today. One must wonder if Margaret and James IV shared any letters or conversations in French or Latin, like Margaret’s brother was known to do with his infamous brunette mistress.

Henry VII kept up his end of the bargain for the Treaty of Peace, which was signed by Henry VII and James IV in 1502 and included the marriage of Margaret and James IV as a term. When Queen Margaret’s younger brother Henry became king of England upon the death of Henry VII in 1509, the young man had little concern for maintaining international peace and waged war upon France. Scotland and France were allies all the way back to 1295, when the Auld Alliance was constructed through the mutual interests of France and Scotland to keep aggressive England at bay. Henry VIII also declared lordship over Scotland, which was a direct affront to James IV. In 1513, Scotland declared war on England in an attempt to divert the English campaign in France. After a bevy of letters between Henry VIII, James IV and Pope Leo X, James IV sent his Scottish navy to the assistance of France in summer 1513. In response, Leo X ordered the excommunication of James IV. James raised an army of approximately 30,000 men and set out to invade England.

Queen Margaret and King James IV had been residing at Linlithgow Palace when James IV and the vast Scottish army marched into battle. In what must have been a tense and devastating time, Queen Margaret awaited news of her husband while she cared for her eighteen-month-old son. Sadly, James IV was killed on September 9, 1513, at the infamous Battle of Flodden, also known as the Battle of Branxton, which took place near the village of Branxton in Northumberland, England. Queen Margaret had been bitterly opposed to the war from the start. Now, her toddler son was the new king of Scotland.

Today’s posts on the Tudor Society are:

Sources and Suggested Reading

Picture: A sketch of Princess Margaret Tudor of England. Sixteenth-century drawing in the Recueil d’Arras (Arras, Bibliothèque municipale, Ms. 266)

4 thoughts on “Margaret Tudor: Gateway to the United Kingdom, Part II: The Thistle and the Rose”

  1. Anne Barnhill says:

    Thank you for another great article on Margaret Tudor. I guess when Henry VIII went to war with France, that must have been a difficult time–who would you pull for? And it was C of A who was leading England at that time, wasn’t it? While Henry was in France? And if I’m remembering correctly, didn’t she sent Henry Jame’s bloody coat? That must have made for odd family holidays….poor Margaret. Thanks again!

  2. Banditqueen says:

    A great second part of the series, more information about the life with James. They shared sad losses of their children, Margaret and Katherine of Aragorn must have shared an affinity in this, despite the desire of Katherine to send the body of James Iv to Henry in France. James may have taken advantage of the King’s absence to invade England but Henry Viii asked for this. Henry Viii caused trouble with his ridiculous claims over Scotland, demanding James acknowledge his sovereignty. Having been provoked and feeling obligation to France, which Henry claimed, James had little choice but to invade England. But he underestimated Katherine, as regent who acted decisively sending the experienced Earl of Surrey (later Duke of Norfolk) to the north, rallied support and encouragement to the people. James had a great army, but Surrey placed his men in an excellent advantage. James was tragically killed, a true warrior King, his body recovered and brought to Richmond. Katherine was disuaded by “our Englishmens hearts would not allow it” her advisers from sending Henry the Scots King’s body, but sent him his blood soaked coat instead. Margaret Tudor was denied the comfort of burying her husband, his body lay in a coffin unburied at the Syon Abbey for many years, eventually disappearing after the abbey became a great house.

  3. Christine says:

    There is a stone monument to the Battle of Flodden, with the words inscribed, ‘To The Brave Of Both Nations, it lies in Flodden Field where the battle took place, it is just a piece of stone but I think the inscription is apt, yes Henry was arrogant and always tried to subdue Scotland, Edward 1st was more successful and Henry I think tried to emulate him, certainly he hated the Scots it must have made him furious when his sister married James and the idea of that was to bring accord between the two nations, yet Henry kept deliberately trying to provoke James and it must have been awkward for Margaret stuck in the middle, he didn’t think of the effect it would have on her, James was described as being handsome and charming, a trait which all the Stewerts possessed and he had several mistresses and children born out of wedlock, one of which was the Earl Of Murray who caused such trouble to his daughter Queen Mary when they were older, it would be interesting to find James coffin and send it back to Scotland, then the Scots could give him a decent burial which I’m sure they’d like to do.

  4. Mrs. Annette says:

    Thanks for a well, but easily read on James !V and Margaret Tudor. My husband is reading several biographies on Erasmus, and your writing down of Erasmus’ view of James !V makes the period, the monarchy so much more alive…
    And the look into Margaret Tudor’s life, children (especially Mary) expands a need to realistically look at Mary Queen of Scots’ childhood and life before adulthood. It is easy to read only about the feud between Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth Tudor Queen of England- Catholic vs Church of England… Religion, Government, etc. The humanity and stirring of two lives caught up into the relationship, transformation and change these queens faced in their royal lives. atk

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