Monday, March 11, 2013

Margaret Tudor - The Forgotten Queen by D.L. Bogdan

Margaret Tudor

Like most women of her time, Princess Margaret Tudor was a political asset, to be married off to enhance her family’s wealth or power. When she was 6, her father, King Henry VII betrothed her to Scotland’s King James IV as a means to link the two countries together, end centuries of historical discord between them.

James IV

When she was 14, before could depart for Scotland to marry, she suffered two severe losses. Her brother, Arthur, heir to the throne, died. Her mother, died shortly thereafter in childbirth.

After a brief period of grief, she set out for Scotland where she married James. The wedding feast was lavish with jousts and much celebration.

At first, Margaret struggled with settling into her new life as is evident in a letter she wrote to her father:

Margaret’s letter to her father

Note: The first part was written by a servant and the bottom portion is in Margaret’s own hand.

©1995-2013 Lara E. Eakins

Here is the translation:

My most dear lord and father, in the most humble wise that I can think, I recommend me unto your Grace, beseeching you of your daily blessing, and that it will please you to give hardy thanks to all your servants the which by your commandment have given right good attendance on me at this time. And especially to all these ladies and gentlewomen which hath accompanied me hither, and to give credence to this good lady the bearer hereof, for I have showed her more of my mind than I will write at this time.

Sir, I beseech your Grace to be good and gracious lord to Thomas, which was footman to the Queen my mother, whose soul God have pardon; for he hath been one of my footmen hither with as great diligence and labor to his great charge of his own good and true mind. I am not able to recompense him, except the favor of your Grace.

Sir, as for news I have none to send, but that my lord of Surrey is in great favor with the King here that he cannot forbear the company of him no time of the day. He and the Bishop of Murray ordereth everything as nigh as they can to the King's pleasure. I pray God it may be for my poor heart's ease in time to come. They call not my Chamberlain to them, which I am sure will speak better for my part than any of them that be of that counsel. And if he speak anything for my cause, my lord of Surrey hath such words unto him that he dare~speak no further.

God send me comfort to his pleasure, and that I and mine that be left here with me be well entreated such ways as they have taken. For God's sake, Sir, hold me excused that I write not myself to your Grace, for I have no leisure this time, but with a wish I would I were with your Grace now, and many times more, when I would answer.

As for this that I have written to your Grace, it is very true, but I pray God I may find it well for my welfare hereafter. No more to your Grace at this time, but our Lord have you in his keeping.
Written with the hand of your humble daughter

©1995-2013 Lara E. Eakins

Margaret gave birth to a son who they called James, but he lived only for a year. Her next child survived only hours before dying. News of her own father’s death brought her even more sadness. Her brother, Henry VIII was no king of England. Soon, she became pregnant again; this time giving birth to a son they named Arthur. At first Arthur thrived, but died when he was nine months old.

The grief-stricken Margaret became pregnant yet again and gave birth to another son they named James. Fortune smiled upon her this time, for James survived until adulthood.

James V
Mary Tudor's Son with James IV

Unfortunately, relations between her husband and her brother, Henry VIII, became strained. War soon erupted at the Scottish/English border. Pregnant once more, Margaret bid her husband farewell and watched him march off to war.

James was killed in battle, leaving Margaret a widow and his one year old son, James, king of Scotland. His will named Margaret as regent for his young son provided that she not remarry. She gave birth to another son who she named Alexander. He was bestowed the title of Duke of Ross.

But Margaret was a very young woman and soon, she fell in love and remarried. Her new husband was Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus. 

Archibald Douglas
6th Earl of Angus

The Scottish nobles, in keeping with their late king’s wishes, summoned John Stuart, Duke of Albany (a cousin to the king, and next in line to the throne after little Alexander’s death) to be regent in her place. Immediately, her children were seized and she was stripped of all income.

Margaret pleading with Parliament to remain with her son
Pregnant with her new husband’s child, Margaret and Archibald fled to England. There, lodged at Harbottle Castle, Margaret gave birth to a daughter they named Margaret Douglas. After the birth, Margaret became very ill and nearly died. Due to the severity of her illness, she was not told that her son, Alexander, had died in Scotland.

When Archibald returned to Scotland, Margaret remained in England, travelling to London, where her brother honored her with month-long celebrations. There she remained for one year, until she was promised safe conduct to return to Scotland.

Upon returning home, Margaret was devastated to learn her husband had taken a mistress and they were living the high life off her Scottish revenues. All hopes were dashed into misery as she found herself trapped in an unhappy marriage, stripped of all power, lacking money to live comfortably, and denied contact with her son, James.

Desperate to improve her circumstances, Margaret entered into an alliance with the Earl of Arran. Together, they overthrew her son’s regent and formally made him king, with Margaret helping her 12 year old son govern. All was well for a time, but soon, Archibald returned and took control.

Margaret finally secured an annulment and married Henry Stewart, her treasurer. Archibald acted quickly and arrested Margaret’s new husband on the grounds that she had married without permission. By now, her son was 16 and he removed Archibald from power. He bestowed the title of Lord Methven to his new stepfather and the Scottish parliament proclaimed Angus and his followers traitors. Ever illusive, Archibald escaped death by fleeing to London once more.


The novel, The Forgotten Queen, accurately portrays the fascinating life of Margaret Tudor. The book covers almost her entire life in great detail, portraying her as likeable, but dreamy, courageous, yet prone to youthful naivety and gullibility.

The plot is intricate and easily followed. Margaret’s love for her was strong, and although she made a definite judgement in error when picking her second husband, it only makes her plight understandable – for who among us hasn’t made similar mistakes in our youth?

For those who love the Tudor era, and even for those who are tired of novels about Henry VIII’s wives, this novel gives us a glimpse into the political climate between Scotland and England, and details of the adversities faced by a lesser known queen.

From History and Women

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