A regent is “a person appointed to administer a state because the monarch is a minor, is absent or is incapacitated.”
Margaret Tudor was born on 28 November 1489 as the eldest daughter of Henry VII of England and Elizabeth of York. Early in her life, her future marriage was already being discussed. On 24 January 1502 Scotland and England concluded the Treaty of Perpetual Peace, which included the marriage between Margaret and James IV of Scotland.
They married by proxy on 25 January 1503 at Richmond Palace. She was provided with a large wardrobe and finally left for Scotland on 27 June 1503. She crossed the border on 1 August 1503 and finally met James. On 4 August there was a stable fire which killed some of her favourite horses, upon which James came to console her. On 7 August 1503, they travelled together to Edinburgh. A second marriage ceremony was performed at Holyrood Abbey on 8 August 1503. Despite the age difference of 16 years, their marriage was one of strong affection. They would go on to have a total of six children, though only one survived to adulthood.
- James, Duke of Rothesay (21 February 1507, Holyrood Palace – 27 February 1508, Stirling Castle).
- Daughter (died shortly after birth 15 July 1508, Holyrood Palace).
- Arthur Stewart, Duke of Rothesay (20 October 1509, Holyrood Palace – 14 July 1510, Edinburgh Castle).
- James V (10 April 1512, Linlithgow Palace – 14 December 1542, Falkland Palace).
- Daughter (died shortly after birth November 1512, Holyrood Palace).
- Alexander Stewart, Duke of Ross (30 April 1514, Stirling Castle – 18 December 1515, Stirling Castle).
The Treaty of Perpetual Peace did not live up to its name. In 1513 her husband invaded England to honour the Auld Alliance with France. James IV died at the Battle of Flodden on 9 September 1513, leaving Margaret a widow. She was named as regent for her infant son, now James V, as long as she remained a widow.
She was confirmed as regent by parliament, but soon there were calls to replace her with John Stewart, 2nd Duke of Albany, who also happened to be in the line of succession. Margaret was considered to be pro-English. She managed to calm the storm and peace between Scotland, England and France was concluded in July 1514. In her search for loyal nobles she has stumbled upon Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus and they were secretly married on 6 August 1514. She had sacrificed her position as regent. John Stewart was installed as regent in July 1515. Margaret had initially kept custody of the young King and his younger brother, but she was forced to surrender them to John Stewart. By now Margaret was pregnant, and she retired to Edinburgh and eventually sought permission to go Linlithgow from where she escaped to England. In October 1515 she gave birth Margaret Douglas (who would become the mother of Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, the husband of Mary, Queen of Scots). While recovering, she learned of the death of her second son.
Margaret spent one year in England before she returned to Scotland, where she was not entirely welcome. She also discovered her husband had been unfaithful to her and she angrily wrote to her brother, King Henry VIII;
“I am sore troubled with my Lord of Angus since my last coming into Scotland, and every day more and more so that we have not been together this half year… I am so minded that, an I may by law of God and to my honour, to part with him, for I wit well he loves me not, as he shows me daily.”
It was clear that Margaret wanted to divorce her husband, but back then, Henry himself still opposed divorce. In 1524 she finally managed to remove John Stewart from power, and she had her son brought from Stirling to Edinburgh. Margaret was recognised as the chief councillor to the King. In March 1527 she was finally granted her divorce, and she married for a third time in March 1528 to Henry Stewart, who was created Lord Methven by her son. Margaret soon grew tired of Henry, and their only child died in infancy. She wanted another divorce, but she lacked the support from her son.
She welcomed her son’s bride Mary of Guise in 1538. She died at Methven Castle on 18 October 1541. She had sent for her son, but he did not make it in time. The line of succession to the throne of England eventually passed through Margaret to her great-grandson James VI and finally united the two countries. 1