Margaret Tudor: Scottish Queen, Ancestor of Rulers

Margaret Tudor, from an engraving b y R Cooper after Hans Holbein
Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Margaret Tudor was the sister of King Henry VIII, daughter of Henry VII (first Tudor king), queen of James IV of Scotland, grandmother of Mary, Queen of Scots, grandmother also of Mary's husband Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, and great-grandmother of James VI of Scotland who became James I of England. She lived from November 29, 1489 to October 18, 1541.

Family of Origin

Margaret Tudor was the older of two daughters of King Henry VII of England and of Elizabeth of York (who was the daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville). Her brother was King Henry VIII of England. She was named for her maternal grandmother, Margaret Beaufort, whose persistent protection and promotion of her son, Henry Tudor, helped bring him to kingship as Henry VII.

Marriage Into Scotland

In August of 1503, Margaret Tudor married King James IV of Scotland, a move intended to repair relations between England and Scotland. The party escorting her to meet her husband stopped at Margaret Beaufort's manor (mother of Henry VII), and Henry VII turned back to home while Margaret Tudor and her attendants continued on to Scotland. Henry VII failed to provide an adequate dowry for his daughter, and England and Scotland's relationship did not improve as hoped. She had six children with James; only the fourth child, James (April 10, 1512) lived to adulthood.

James IV died in 1513 in the battle against the English at Flodden.  Margaret Tudor became the regent for their infant son, now king as James V. Her husband's will named her as regent while she was still a widow, not remarried. Her regency was not popular: she was a daughter and sister of English kings and a woman. She used considerable skill to avoid being replaced as regent by John Stewart, a male relative and in the line of succession. In 1514, she helped engineer a peace between England, France, and Scotland.

That same year, just the year after her husband's death, Margaret Tudor married Archibald Douglas, earl of Angus, a supporter of England and one of Margaret's allies in Scotland. Despite her husband's will, she attempted to remain in power, taking her two surviving sons (Alexander, the youngest, was still alive at that time, as well as the older James). Another regent was appointed, and the Scottish Privy Council also asserted custody of the two children. She traveled with permission within Scotland and took the occasion to go to England to take refuge there under her brother's protection. She gave birth there to a daughter, Lady Margaret Douglas, who would later become the mother of Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley.

Margaret discovered that her husband had a lover. Margaret Tudor rather quickly changed allegiances and supported the pro-French regent, John Stewart, the Duke of Albany. She returned to Scotland, and involved herself in politics, organizing a coup that removed Albany, and brought James to power at the age of 12, though that was short-lived and Margaret and the duke of Angus struggled for power.

Margaret won an annulment from Douglas, though they had already produced a daughter. Margaret Tudor then married Henry Stewart (or Stuart) in 1528. He was later made Lord Methven shortly after James V took power, this time in his own right.

Margaret Tudor's marriage had been arranged to bring Scotland and England closer, and she seems to have continued her commitment to that goal. She attempted to arrange a meeting between her son James and her brother, Henry VIII, in 1534, but James accused her of betraying secrets and no longer trusted her. He refused her request for permission to divorce Methven.

In 1538, Margaret was on hand to welcome her son's new wife, Marie de Guise, to Scotland. The two women formed a bond around defending the Roman Catholic faith from the rising Protestant power.

Margaret Tudor died in 1541 at Methven Castle. She left her possessions to her daughter, Margaret Douglas, at her son's pleasure.

Descendants of Margaret Tudor:

Margaret Tudor's granddaughter, Mary, Queen of Scots, daughter of James V, became Scotland's ruler. Her husband, Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, was also a grandson of Margaret Tudor -- his mother was Margaret Douglas who was Margaret's daughter by her second husband, Archibald Douglas.

Mary was eventually executed by her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I of England, who was Margaret Tudor's niece. Mary and Darnley's son became King James VI of Scotland. Elizabeth named James her heir at his death and he became King James I of England.

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Your Citation
Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Margaret Tudor: Scottish Queen, Ancestor of Rulers." ThoughtCo, Aug. 25, 2020, Lewis, Jone Johnson. (2020, August 25). Margaret Tudor: Scottish Queen, Ancestor of Rulers. Retrieved from Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Margaret Tudor: Scottish Queen, Ancestor of Rulers." ThoughtCo. (accessed April 1, 2023).