Mary of Bourbon was born on 29 October 1515 as the daughter of Charles, Duke of Vendôme and Françoise d’Alençon.
The Treaty of Rouen of 1517 between France and Scotland provided for the marriage of a French Princess to the King of Scots. However, it soon became clear that Madeleine of Valois, the daughter of King Francis I of France, was too sickly to be married. Francis then suggested Mary as a substitute. In 1534 Mary’s portrait was painted to be presented to the Scottish King.
Negotiations went back and forth for a while. Mary was to receive a dowry as if she were a French Princess, which seemed to please the Scots. The final contract was drawn up on 29 March 1536, which was sealed by King Francis. The King of Scots visited Mary at St. Quentin in September 1536 and then went further south to meet King Francis. He also met Madeleine, the French Princess who was too sickly. He fell in love at first sight and insisted upon marrying her. Francis refused to give his consent until his daughter declared that she too wished to marry James. Mary’s response to being jilted is not recorded, and another marriage was already being negotiated for her not much later. However, she died on 28 September 1538, still only 22 years old. Madeleine died not long after her arrival in Scotland on 7 July 1537.
Robert Lindsay of Pitscottie wrote;
“the duik of Vandones dochter, quho tuke sick displeasour at the king of Scotlandis marriage that shoe deceast immediately thaireftir: quhairat the king of Scotland was highlie displeased, thinkand that he was the occasioun of that gentlewoman’s death.”