The first history of Henry VIII’s beloved niece and one-time heir to the throne, whose life spanned the reign of four Tudor monarchs
This forgotten part of Tudor history is told here for the first time with all the passion and thrill of a novel, but this is no fiction—Henry VIII really did almost hand the throne to his beloved niece. Had he continued the plan, the whole of history would have played out differently. This story brings to life the story of Margaret Douglas, a shadowy and mysterious character in Tudor history—but who now takes center stage in this tale of the bitter struggle for power during the reign of Henry VIII. Margaret is Henry’s niece, and finds herself in favor with her uncle. In 1536, when the King turns against his second wife Anne Boleyn, he declares his daughters Mary and Elizabeth, bastards—and appoints Margaret as his heir to the throne. But when he discovers Margaret’s love affair with Anne Boleyn’s uncle, Henry imprisons her and her lover in the Tower. Through Margaret’s marriage of her son, Lord Darnley, to his cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots, she unites their claims to the throne, but under the reign of Elizabeth tragedy strikes again when Lord Darnley is murdered, possibly by his wife. As Margaret reaches old age, her place in the dynasty is still not safe, and she dies in mysterious circumstances.
Margaret Douglas seems to be quite forgotten in history, despite her proximity to the English throne at various points in her life. A biography of this forgotten woman is quite deserved. She was also part of “The Forgotten Tudor Women” by Sylvia Barbara Soberton and you can read my review of that book here. The books were released around the same date, though the paperback version of this book was released only last month. Margaret Douglas was the daughter of Margaret Tudor, by then Dowager Queen of Scotland and her second husband, Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus. Her parents were divorced and Margaret mainly grew up in England in the company of her cousin, the future Mary I and the two were close friends. Margaret fell in love with Lord Thomas Howard, Anne Boleyn’s uncle, but the match was not approved and both Margaret and Thomas were committed to the Tower. Margaret would emerge, but Thomas died in the Tower. Just three years later she fell for Thomas’ half-nephew, Charles Howard. In 1544 she finally made a match approved of by the King. She married a Scottish exile by the name of Matthew Stewart, Earl of Lennox. They had two surviving sons, Henry and Charles.
Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, would go on to marry Mary, Queen of Scots and it was that marriage that landed Margaret in the Tower yet again. She was released after her son’s murder and denounced her daughter-in-law. Her grandson became James VI of Scotland, and later also James I of England. Her husband became regent for the young King but he was assassinated in 1571. She was again in the Tower when she arranged for her second son, Charles to marry Elizabeth Cavendish. They had a single child, Arbella Stuart and Charles died a year later of consumption, whereupon Margaret was released from the Tower. She outlived her son by only two years and died at the age of 62 on 7 March 1568.
I have read and reviewed a book by Mary McGrigor before and her writing style is quite pleasant. We feel Margaret’s pain at the loss of her first love and the success of marrying her son to Mary, Queen of Scots and uniting their claims. She shared Mary I’s faith and was considered by Mary to be the preferred successor to the throne. 1 Despite the legacy she has left, Margaret seemed to have disappeared from history. She was the granddaughter, daughter, mother and grandmother to royalty and deserves to be recognised as such. I would highly recommend this book if you’re looking to delve deeper into Tudor history. The Other Tudor Princess is available now in both the US and the UK.