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Scandalous Affairs: Margaret Tudor, sister of Henry VIII, created her own scandals
We’re all familiar with King
Henry VIII and his six wives, but few know that his sister, Margaret, was way
ahead of him in the scandalous divorce and remarriage department.
Queen Margaret, wife of King
James IV of Scotland, was Margaret Tudor, one of two sisters of Henry VIII.Margaret traveled to Scotland when she was
only 14 to wed James IV, 30.Before
their marriage, James had seven, or maybe eight, illegitimate children by four
different women.But once they were wed,
he and Margaret reportedly had a loving relationship.During their ten year marriage, she bore him
But when her husband died in
a battle (fighting his brother in law Henry’s forces) only one child was living:
seventeen month old, James V.Margaret
was named regent in the royal will, for as long as she remained a widow.
It was a singular honor from
her husband, for she was not a popular choice.Not only was she a woman, but she was also the sister of the king who
had just killed her husband.Yet all
began well, and for the first year or so, she balanced the competing forces of
those who sought an alliance with England and those who wanted Scotland to
cleave to the Auld Alliance with France.
At this point, however, after
what had seemed a staid and balanced life, her tale develops striking
similarities to that of her brother.At
25, she apparently developed appetites of her own and her subsequent marriages,
alliances, and divorce, changed the course of history and destroyed her
position and influence.
Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus
Less than a year after her
husband’s death , she married Archibald Douglas, the 6th Earl of
Angus, suddenly and secretly, without asking so much as a by-your-leave,
simultaneously losing the regency, the trust of the French-leaning barons, and
possession of her young son.In
addition, the marriage did not sit well with the other Scots barons, who resented
her for preferring Angus, a staunch ally of the English king.
This left an opening for the
French faction to resurge and bring the Duke of Albany over from France to
serve as regent.
Things went downhill from
Margaret soon learned that her
new husband, the Earl of Angus was living openly with a former lover – and
using Margaret’s money to do so.For the
next fourteen years, Margaret, and Scotland, went through a dizzying array of
shifting alliances.The regency, along
with the possession of the boy king, shifted between Angus and the regent named
by the French faction.Margaret
attempted to get along with all of them, but finally, allied with one of Angus’
enemies, she seized physical control of her eight year old son and fired on her
husband when he came to take the boy back.
Queen Margaret defies Parliament - painting by John Faed
She was not allowed to keep
control, however, and eventually, Margaret went to England for a year, and bore
the daughter that Angus had fathered.Yet
she returned to Scotland to do her duty as a queen and a mother.
An attempt to reconcile with
her husband was unsuccessful. Weary and
despairing, she wrote to her brother Henry that she was considering
divorce.Ironically, Henry sent her a
pious and crabby note saying that marriage was “divinely ordained.”(He, of course, changed his mind on that not
too many years later.)In addition,
Angus was an ally, who helped to keep Scotland from swinging too far to the
French side, so Henry preferred to keep him close.
To no avail.Margaret petitioned the Pope for a divorce.Meanwhile, she swung her support more to the
French faction, thinking, perhaps, that they could help her persuade the pope
to grant the divorce.Meanwhile, Angus
kidnapped the young king, virtually holding him hostage for two years.Finally, young James V, now 16, escaped and
started to rule in his own right.
By this time, Margaret, still
married to Angus, had formed a new romantic alliance, this time with Henry
Stewart, whom she married within months after she learned her divorce from
Angus was official.(The grounds upon
which the Pope granted her divorce seem flimsy, even for the time.It was that Angus was pre-contracted to
another woman and Margaret was ignorant of it at the time of their marriage.)
Again, her union with Henry
Steward was unpopular, but her son, now finally ruling in his own right, seemed
fond of the man and gave him the title 1st Lord of Methven.For a time, he and Margaret were close
advisors to James V.
Alas, Methven was no more
reliable than Angus and she discovered he was keeping a mistress in one of
Margaret’s own castles.She sought
another divorce, but her son would not support it and her last husband outlived
her.Late in life, her daughter in law, King
James’ second wife, helped restore Margaret to a level of dignity and
And by then?She had expressed a yearning to be reunited
A husband, a divorce, another
husband, the desire for another divorce…Queen Margaret created scandals that,
in their own way, rivaled her brother Henry’s.
Blythe Giffordhas been known for medieval
romances featuring characters born on the wrong side of the royal blanket. Now,
she’s written a Harlequin Historical trilogy set on the turbulent Scottish
Borders of the early Tudor era.The
books are RETURN OF THE BORDER WARRIOR, November 2012, CAPTIVE OF THE BORDER
LORD, January 2013, and TAKEN BY THE BORDER REBEL in March 2013.The Chicago Tribune has called her work
"the perfect balance between history and romance."Visit her at www.blythegifford.com, www.facebook.com/BlytheGifford, www.pinterest.com/BlytheGifford or on