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James III of Scotland & Margaret of Denmark

James III of Scotland & Margaret of Denmark

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James III, King of Scots 1460 – 1488

The life and rule of James III followed a similar pattern to that of his father. After the death of James II in 1460 the nine year old new king found himself the focus of attention of rival factions vying to control Scotland.

After assuming personal control of Scotland in 1468, James proved to be an unpopular king given to promoting unrealistic plans at the expense of his regular duties as king and head of the realm. Further, his preference for his own favourites at court alienated many powerful nobles as well as members of his own family – a weakness in his character and judgement that would eventually cost him dear.

The high point of his reign came as an unexpected bonus from his marriage in 1469 to Margaret of Denmark. A dowry of 80,000 Guilders was agreed as part of the marriage terms with a sum payable upfront and the rest mortgaged against the Orkney and Shetland islands. Unexpectedly the Danes could not raise the full amount and Scotland, as their due, claimed ownership of the islands. In rather unusual circumstances Scotland had expanded its territories.

Dissent and open rebellion were eventually to mar James reign though. James' desire for an alliance with England was unpopular. His plans to marry his son to the daughter of the English king, Edward IV, raised the spectre of raised taxation to pay for the wedding at time when the Scottish economy was suffering.

By the late 1470's James' unpopularity led to conflict. Tense relationships with his brothers Alexander, Duke of Albany, and John, Earl of Mar, threatened to end his reign. First John died in suspicious circumstances in Edinburgh, and then Alexander was exiled after being charged with treason.

With relations with England souring, Alexander made a sudden re-appearance in Scotland – as part of an English invasion force. Alexander had struck a deal with the English king and he was back to claim the throne that he believed was rightfully his.

In 1482 the invasion force captured Berwick-Upon-Tweed making it permanently a part of England. James raised an army but snubbed the leading nobles by placing his favourites in key positions of command. For the disgruntled nobility of Scotland this was the final straw.

In open rebellion, James' favourites were murdered and James himself taken prisoner and held at Edinburgh Castle. James was only saved when the English force failed to take the castle and, having run out of money and patience, returned home.

James failed to learn the lessons from the events of 1482. He still attempted to court an alliance with England and still promoted his favourites at the expense of the greater nobility. Matters worsened when the increasingly isolated king became estranged from his wife and eldest son, James.

In 1488 James faced another revolt. Again the nobles rose against him – only this time they had the king's son with them. The young prince was angered by his father's favouritism for his younger brother and feared that his right to succeed his father a king would be denied him joined the rebel lords.

James raised an army and met the rebel force at Sauchieburn, outside Stirling. At some point in the battle or just after it James was killed. Accounts differ as to the manner of his death. One version has James fall from his horse to be finished by the enemy soldiers, while another has James survive the battle only to be assassinated whilst taking shelter.

James son, figurehead of the rebel army, became the next Stewart monarch.

James III

James III, King of Scots, the eldest son of James II and Mary of Guelders, the daughter of Arnold, Duke of Guelders, and Catherine of Cleves. was born around 1451-2 and created Duke of Rothesay at birth. He succeeded his father in 1460 when the latter was killed in an accident involving an exploding cannon. At the age of nine, James was crowned at Kelso Abbey, Roxboroughshire. Scotland again faced a long minority government when it required a strong king to control its turbulent nobles. The Queen mother was appointed Regent and was aided in government by the aged Bishop Kennedy.

James III

On the death of Bishop Kennedy the familiar story of power hungry magnates vying to control the child monarch was resumed. James was taken captive at Linlithgow and taken by force to Edinburgh Castle by Sir Alexander Boyd, along with the Flemings, Hepburns, Lindsays and others. The powerless young King was made to appear before Parliament and humiliatingly constrained to state that they had acted on his approval. Boyd, an ambitious and unprincipled man bent on self aggrandisement, was then appointed the boy king's guardian and raised his son, Thomas, to the position of Earl of Arran and audaciously married him to the King's sister Mary.

A marriage was negotiated for James in his adolescence, to Margaret of Denmark, a dowry of sixty thousand florins was offered by the Danes. Margaret was the daughter of Christian I of Denmark by Dorothea of Brandenburg.

While both Boyd and Arran were otherwise engaged abroad in collecting the Princess, their enemies grasped their chance to ingratiate themselves with the young and impressionable King and fueled his doubts and fears about his governor. On his return, Boyd found himself totally out of favour and his influence and position usurped. James and Margaret were married at Holyrood Abbey in July 1469. His sister Mary's union with Boyd's son, Arran, was declared void.


Following his marriage, the King, like his father before him, now began to assert himself in the government. James possessed some of his father's instability but none of the determination and strength of character that both his father and his grandfather, James I, had displayed in full measure.

Margaret of Denmark

Of a character that was easily influenced by others, James was convinced by those hoping to gain from their downfall that his brothers Alexander, Duke of Albany and John, Earl of Mar, were plotting against him and promptly struck out at them both, imprisoning them in Edinburgh Castle. Mar died of a fever but Albany managed a daring escape. Stronger than his brother, Albany was made more in their father's mould.

James was artistic and sensitive, both admirable qualities, but as had been displayed both before and after him, they were not the qualities that made a successful Medieval King and especially in such an unruly country as Scotland. The common people of Scotland become increasingly annoyed by their King's lack of competence as a ruler, they suffered severely from poor harvests, famine, plague, soaring inflation and a debased coinage which James' government appeared oblivious to, causing ill feeling against the King's inadequacy as a ruler to wax ever stronger.


James' brother Alexander Stewart, Duke of Albany, alarmed at the King's unstable suspicions of him and suffering from what has been described as a second son complex, invaded the country, with an army supplied by the Yorkist King Edward IV. His army was lead by Edward's highly able and ruthlessly efficient brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester. James discovered too late that his barons had no loyalty to him and were not prepared to support him.

James stubbornly refused to renounce his unpopular favourites, the tempestuous Scottish lords reacted by taking and hanging six of them, including the much-despised Robert Cochrane. James was arrested at Lauder Bridge and carried off to Edinburgh a prisoner, leading to the ironic situation of his brother Albany and his ally Gloucester following hotly in pursuit of the captive King.

On their arrival at Edinburgh Castle, Albany reached an uneasy agreement with the rebel barons that he was to be announced, Regent. Albany's abiding mistrust of the barons was equalled by their mistrust of him, realising his precarious position, he suddenly turned coat and released his brother, restoring him to the throne with much-mooted protestations of "brotherly love and kindness" which evaporated soon after with unseemly haste. James recovered power and Albany fled to his estates in Dunbar, on the death of his strong supporter, Edward IV on 9th April 1483, finding himself in a vulnerable position, he took refuge in England.

Albany returned to Scotland the following year, having acquired the support of the exiled Earl of Douglas and entered Lochmaben. The towns citizens remained loyal to the crown and ousted the rebels. Albany escaped to France, where he died the following year. Douglas was captured but James in a characteristically merciful gesture allowed him his life.

Tomb of James III and his Queen, Mary of Gueldres at Cambuskenneth Abbey


Having learned nothing from the mistakes of the past, the King heedlessly returned to his old favourites and much-preferred music, riding and hunting to the mundane pursuit of governing his country. A minor dispute concerning revenues with the Homes family escalated into open revolt. The King had also managed to alienate and become estranged from his wife, Margaret of Denmark and due to James III's undisguised preference for his younger son, his eldest son, James, also harboured resentments against him.

The king met with the rebels at Blackness, on the Firth of Forth and entered into peace talks with the nobles. After an agreement was reached, James trustingly retired to Edinburgh, disbanding his army. The rebels, however, rose again and the King and his army rode out to meet them on 11th June 1488, at Sauchieburn, proudly bearing before him the sword of his great ancestor, Robert the Bruce. Despite the presence of the Bruce's sword, the battle, unfortunately, went for the rebels and the King was either killed in battle or forced to flee.

Legend has it that James sought shelter in the home of a cottagers wife, whom he asked to bring him a priest. She returned with one and James asked for absolution whereupon 'the priest' treacherously drew a concealed knife from his cassock and slew the King. It is unlikely that the young James was party to this deception and the authenticity of this account of his death has been called into question.

The body of James III was taken to Cambuskenneth Abbey, where it was buried before the high altar of the abbey church, alongside that of his Queen, Margaret of Denmark. His son, James IV was to deeply regret his part in the rebellion which ended in his father's death and ever after wore a chain of expiation around his waist in penance.

James III of Scotland & Margaret of Denmark - History


1. King Alfred The Great 2. King Edward I 3. King Edmund I 4. King Edgar 5. King Ethelred II 6. King Edmund II 7. Edward m. Agatha 8. Margaret of England m. K. Malcolm III. Canmore (A. D. 1058-1093) of Scotland 9. King David I. (1124-1153, d. A. D. 1153), Matilda of Huntingdon 10. Prince Henry (d. A. D. 1152), Ada of Surrey 11. Earl David of Huntingdon (d. A. D. 1219), Matilda of Chester 12. Isobel m. Robert Bruce III 13. Robert Bruce IV. m. Isobel of Gloucester 14. Robert Bruce V. m. Martha of Carrick 15. King Robert I. (The Bruce) (A. D. 1306-1329), Isobel, daughter of Earl of Mar 16. Marjorie Bruce m. Walter Stewart III 17. King Robert II. (b. 1317, 1371-1390, d. A. D. 1390), Euphemia of Ross (d. A. D. 1376) 18. King Robert III. (b. 1337, 1390-1406, d. A. D. 1406), Arabella Drummond (d. A. D. 1401) 19. King James I of Scotland (A. D. 1406-1437), m. Joan Beaufort 20. King James II of Scotland m. Mary of Gueldres 21. King James III of Scotland m. Margaret Princess of Denmark 22. King James IV of Scotland / Agnes Stewart 23. Malcolm Fleming m. Janet (Joan) Stewart 24. John Stewart m. Margaret Fleming 25. Sir Duncan Campbell m. Lady Jane Stewart (5th Cousin of Mary, Queen of Scots) 26. Sir Robert Campbell (6th cousin of James VI of Scotland who was also King James I of England) m. Isobel Mackintosh 27. William Campbell (of Glenfalloch) (killed at Stirling) m. Jean Campbell 28. Margaret Campbell married Donald Macgregor 29. Margaret Macgregor (sister of Rob Roy) married John Leckie 30. Janet Leckie (10th cousin of King George II) m. James Maxwell 31. Ann Maxwell (1735-1804) m. James Black 32. John Black m. Margaret MacNair 33. Margaret Barton Black b. 1797 m. William Pollock 34. Margaret Pollock (14th cousin to Queen Victoria) m. Andrew Macgeorge 35. Margaret Macgeorge m. Rev. John Alison 36. May Alison m. Ernest Wolff 37. Alison Wolff m. Edward Wilson 38. Anthea Wilson (18th cousin of Queen Elizabeth II) m. Christopher Steel 39. Richard Steel (19th cousin of Prince Charles) m. Sasha Jazzmyne Jade 1998 40. Serena Wynter Steel b. 2000 and Sorcha Lelani Steel b. 2001 (20th cousins of Prince William)


1. Walter of Gloucester Fitzroger (born c.1065 d. Llanthony Priory, Gloucester 1127) m. Berthe Fitzroger 2. Miles of Gloucester (1092-1143) m. Sybil De Neufmarche 3. Bertha De Gloucester m. William De Braose 4. Sybil De Braose m. Walkelin (William) De Ferrers 5. Agatha De Ferrers m. King John of England 6. Joan, Princess of England m. Llewelyn Ap Iorwerth 7. Elen Verch Llewelyn m. Donald , Earl of Mar 8. Isabel (Matilda) of Mar m. King Robert I The Bruce of Scotland 9. Marjorie, Princess of Scotland m. Walter, High Steward of Scotland m. 10. Robert II, King of Scotland m. Elizabeth More 11. Alexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan 12. Margaret Stewart m. Robert Sutherland 13. Alexander Sutherland m. Marione Ile 14. Marjory Sutherland m. William Sinclair 15. Eleanor Sinclair m. John Stewart 16.Marjory Stewart m. Sir Colin Campbell (father) 17. Sir Colin Campbell (son) m. Katherine Ruthven 18. Sir Duncan Campbell m. Lady Jane Stewart (5th Cousin of Mary, Queen of Scots) 19. Sir Robert Campbell (6th cousin of James VI of Scotland who was also King James I of England) m. Isobel Mackintosh 20. William Campbell (of Glenfalloch) (killed at Stirling) m.Jean Campbell 21. Margaret Campbell married Donald Macgregor 22. Margaret Macgregor (sister of Rob Roy) married John Leckie 23. Janet Leckie (10th cousin of King George II) m. James Maxwell 24. Ann Maxwell (1735-1804) m. James Black 25. John Black m. Margaret MacNair 26. Margaret Barton Black b. 1797 m. William Pollock 27. Margaret Pollock (14th cousin to Queen Victoria) m. Andrew Macgeorge 28. Margaret Macgeorge m. Rev. John Alison 29. May Alison m. Ernest Wolff 30. Alison Wolff m. Edward Wilson 31. Anthea Wilson (18th cousin of Queen Elizabeth II) m. Christopher Steel 32. Richard Steel m. Sasha Jazzymyne Jade and Katherine Steel (19th cousins of Prince Charles) (Sasha and Richard are 26th cousins) 33. Serena Steel and Sorcha Steel (20th cousins of Prince William)


1. King William the Conqueror (1027-1087) m. Queen Maude of Flanders 2. King Henry I m. Princess Maud of Scotland 3. Queen Matilda m. Count Geoffrey V of Anjou 4. King Henry II m. Eleanor of Aquitaine 5. King John r. 1199-1216 m. Isabella de Taillefer 6. King Henry III crowned King of England at Gloucester Cathedral 1216 , m. Eleanor of Provence 7. King Edward I "Longshanks" m. Eleanor of Castile 8. King Edward II m. Isabelle, Princess of France 9. King Edward III of England m. Philippa of Hainault and Holland 10. John of Gaunt, Prince of England m. Katherine Swynford d. 1403 11. John "Fairborn" Beaufort m. Margaret De Holand 12. Joan Beaufort m. King James I of Scotland (A. D. 1406-1437) 13. King James II of Scotland m. Mary of Gueldres 14. King James III of Scotland m. Margaret Princess of Denmark 15. King James IV of Scotland / Agnes Stewart 16. Malcolm Fleming m. Janet (Joan) Stewart 17. John Stewart m. Margaret Fleming 18. Sir Duncan Campbell m. Lady Jane Stewart (5th Cousin of Mary, Queen of Scots) 19. Sir Robert Campbell (6th cousin of James VI of Scotland who was also King James I of England) m. Isobel Mackintosh 20. William Campbell (of Glenfalloch) (killed at Stirling) m.Jean Campbell 21. Margaret Campbell married Donald Macgregor 22. Margaret Macgregor (sister of Rob Roy) married John Leckie 23. Janet Leckie (10th cousin of King George II) m. James Maxwell 24. Ann Maxwell (1735-1804) m. James Black 25. John Black m. Margaret MacNair 26. Margaret Barton Black b. 1797 m. William Pollock 27. Margaret Pollock (14th cousin to Queen Victoria) m. Andrew Macgeorge 28. Margaret Macgeorge m. Rev. John Alison 29. May Alison m. Ernest Wolff 30. Alison Wolff m. Edward Wilson 31. Anthea Wilson (18th cousin of Queen Elizabeth II) m. Christopher Steel 32. Katherine and Richard Steel (19th cousins of Prince Charles) m. Sasha Jazzmyne Jade 1998 33. Serena Wynter Steel b. 2000 and Sorcha Lelani Steel b. 2001 (20th cousins of Prince William)


1. King Edward III of England (1312-1377) m. Philippa of Hainault and Holland 2. John of Gaunt, Prince of England m. Katherine Swynford d. 1403 3. John "Fairborn" Beaufort m. Margaret De Holand 4. Joan Beaufort m. King James I of Scotland (A. D. 1406-1437) 5. King James II of Scotland m. Mary of Gueldres 6. King James III of Scotland m. Margaret Princess of Denmark 7. King James IV of Scotland / Agnes Stewart 8. Malcolm Fleming m. Janet (Joan) Stewart 9. John Stewart m. Margaret Fleming 10. Sir Duncan Campbell m. Lady Jane Stewart (5th Cousin of Mary, Queen of Scots) 11. Sir Robert Campbell (6th cousin of James VI of Scotland who was also King James I of England) m. Isobel Mackintosh 12. William Campbell (of Glenfalloch) (killed at Stirling) m.Jean Campbell 13. Margaret Campbell married Donald Macgregor 14. Margaret Macgregor (sister of Rob Roy) married John Leckie 15. Janet Leckie (10th cousin of King George II) m. James Maxwell 16. Ann Maxwell (1735-1804) m. James Black 17. John Black m. Margaret MacNair 18. Margaret Barton Black b. 1797 m. William Pollock 19. Margaret Pollock (14th cousin to Queen Victoria) m. Andrew Macgeorge 20. Margaret Macgeorge m. Rev. John Alison 21. May Alison m. Ernest Wolff 22. Alison Wolff m. Edward Wilson 23. Anthea Wilson (18th cousin of Queen Elizabeth II) m. Christopher Steel 24. Richard and Katherine Steel (19th cousins of Prince Charles) m. Sasha Jazzmyne Jade 1998 25. Serena Wynter Steel b. 2000 and Sorcha Lelani Steel b. 2001 (20th cousins of Prince William)


1. King James I of Scotland (A. D. 1406-1437), (16g grandson of King Alfred The Great) m. Joan Beaufort 2. King James II of Scotland m. Mary of Gueldres 3. King James III of Scotland m. Margaret Princess of Denmark 4. King James IV of Scotland / Agnes Stewart 5. Malcolm Fleming m. Janet (Joan) Stewart 6. John Stewart m. Margaret Fleming 7. Sir Duncan Campbell m. Lady Jane Stewart (5th Cousin of Mary, Queen of Scots) 8. Sir Robert Campbell (6th cousin of James VI of Scotland who was also King James I of England) m. Isobel Mackintosh 9. William Campbell (of Glenfalloch) (killed at Stirling) m. Jean Campbell 10. Margaret Campbell married Donald Macgregor 11. Margaret Macgregor (sister of Rob Roy) married John Leckie 12. Janet Leckie (10th cousin of King George II) m. James Maxwell 13. Ann Maxwell (1735-1804) m. James Black 14. John Black m. Margaret MacNair 15. Margaret Barton Black b. 1797 m. William Pollock 16. Margaret Pollock (14th cousin to Queen Victoria) m. Andrew Macgeorge 17. Margaret Macgeorge m. Rev. John Alison 18. May Alison m. Ernest Wolff 19. Alison Wolff m. Edward Wilson 20. Anthea Wilson (18th cousin of Queen Elizabeth II) m. Christopher Steel 21. Richard Steel m. Sasha Jazzymyne Jade and Katherine Steel (19th cousins of Prince Charles) (Sasha and Richard are 26th cousins) 22. Serena Steel and Sorcha Steel (20th cousins of Prince William)


1. King Henry III crowned King of England at Gloucester Cathedral 1216 , m. Eleanor of Provence 2. King Edward I "Longshanks" m. Eleanor of Castile 3. King Edward II m. Isabelle, Princess of France 4. King Edward III of England m. Philippa of Hainault and Holland 5. John of Gaunt, Prince of England m. Katherine Swynford d. 1403 6. John "Fairborn" Beaufort m. Margaret De Holand 7. Joan Beaufort m. King James I of Scotland (A. D. 1406-1437) 8. King James II of Scotland m. Mary of Gueldres 9. King James III of Scotland m. Margaret Princess of Denmark 10. King James IV of Scotland / Agnes Stewart 11. Malcolm Fleming m. Janet (Joan) Stewart 12. John Stewart m. Margaret Fleming 13. Sir Duncan Campbell m. Lady Jane Stewart (5th Cousin of Mary, Queen of Scots) 14. Sir Robert Campbell (6th cousin of James VI of Scotland who was also King James I of England) m. Isobel Mackintosh 15. William Campbell (of Glenfalloch) (killed at Stirling) m.Jean Campbell 16. Margaret Campbell married Donald Macgregor 17. Margaret Macgregor (sister of Rob Roy) married John Leckie 18. Janet Leckie (10th cousin of King George II) m. James Maxwell 19. Ann Maxwell (1735-1804) m. James Black 20. John Black m. Margaret MacNair 21. Margaret Barton Black b. 1797 m. William Pollock 22. Margaret Pollock (14th cousin to Queen Victoria) m. Andrew Macgeorge 23. Margaret Macgeorge m. Rev. John Alison 24. May Alison m. Ernest Wolff 25. Alison Wolff m. Edward Wilson 26. Anthea Wilson m. Christopher Steel 27. Richard Steel b. 1967 m. Sasha Jazzmyne Jade 1998 Katherine Steel b. 1969 married Piers Dent 28. Serena Wynter Steel b. 2000 and Sorcha Lelani Steel b. 2001 Gabriel Elijah Malachi Steel b. 2006

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I recently wrote a piece on Henry VII and Elizabeth of York where I suggested that we could see their love for each other reflected in the actions of their children. Arthur Tudor was tender even considering the realms of courtly romance to Catherine of Aragon. Henry VIII famously fell in love with numerous women and married a number of them, despite the lasting and far-reaching consequences. Both of Henry VII’s daughters, Margaret and Mary were married to strengthen England politically, but upon the deaths of their husbands both defied convention, and their brother, to marry again for love.

Margaret took this one step further, as she didn’t just defy social norms by marrying in secret for love, but she did the unthinkable and divorced her second husband only to remarry her acknowledged lover. Her brother, Henry VIII, described her as, ‘a shame and disgrace to all her family,’ and her behaviour was considered a scandal. But despite all this, very few came to her aid when she was mistreated by her second and third husband and she remained a capable and able politician who grasped the nuances of the Scottish political landscape even when her brother and his advisors did not.

Queen of Scotland

Margaret with her first husband, James IV.

When nine-year-old Margaret Tudor was betrothed to the twenty-five-year-old King James IV of Scotland, not all the Tudors rejoiced. Margaret’s mother and grandmother opposed the marriage, fearing for the girl who was considered small for age, while her prospective husband already had five acknowledged bastards. For the Tudors, the potential injury to a young girl made prematurely pregnant was well known, as the damage done to Henry VII’s mother, Margaret Beaufort, giving birth at just thirteen years old had ensured he remained an only child. With this in mind, Elizabeth of York and Margaret Beaufort went to the king and convinced him to delay the marriage until Margaret was of a more suitable age.

Margaret was married by proxy in 1503 when she was thirteen, to James, represented by the Earl of Bothwell. She was now regarded as the Queen of Scotland and later in the year undertook a grand progress North to meet her husband. But for all the worries of her mother and grandmother, James proved to be an attentive and thoughtful husband from the start and their marriage would be a successful one, though it would only last ten years.

James met Margaret shortly after she had crossed the border though this was not supposed to have been their first formal meeting. Instead, and in keeping with tradition, James had just happened to be hunting nearby with some nobles of his court when he suddenly decided to surprise his bride by showing up unexpectedly.
All, of course, were dressed for the occasion.
Immediately they discovered a mutual love of music (James had brought instruments with him in lieu of hunting weapons) and passed a merry evening listening to minstrels and dancing. James returned to Edinburgh, however when he heard that a stable fire had broken out in the night, killing Margaret’s favourite horses, he immediately returned to her side so that he may comfort her. He then proceeded to spend the day with her, and the next, and the next, during which time they seemed to enjoy the other’s company and he gave her a number of gifts, including some horses to replace those lost in the fire.

When Margaret joined him at Edinburgh, James rode out to meet her and among the traditional displays and pageants of welcome, he invited Margaret to share his saddle and the two rode into the city together.

On the 8th August Margaret and James were married in Holyrood Abbey and the couple dressed to match, with both of their outfits trimmed with the same shade of crimson. Between the wedding and the feasting, Margaret was anointed and crowned Queen of Scotland, during which time James remained beside her and affectionately held her. Then followed a great celebration of feasting and dancing before the two were put to bed.

In keeping with the customs of the Kings of Scotland, the morning after their wedding James gave Margaret a wedding gift, in this instance the lands of Kilmarnock and the two began married life with a tour of her dower lands. James continued to give his wife gifts and during their tour, he took her to palaces that had been refurbished for her arrival. Though the two seemed to be getting along well, harmony was disturbed when they arrived at Margaret’s dower castle of Stirling which, unbeknownst to her, was housing the king’s children. They did not remain there long.

When they returned to Edinburgh they settled into seemingly affable married life, though it was no doubt disturbed by James’ visits to Darnaway Castle where he visited his son, James Stewart and the woman who bore him, James’ previous mistress Janet Kennedy who he had housed there. Although James continued to visit Janet, he did not neglect his wife who enjoyed his attention and frequent gifts. However, Margaret did not conceive for the first few years of their marriage, though we do not know if this was because Margaret struggled to fall pregnant or because James held off until Margaret was older.

Their first child, James Stewart, was born in February 1507 and James was evidently overjoyed to have a legitimate son and heir. James Stewart was created Prince of Scotland, Duke of Rothesay and there was a great deal of celebration. The festivities were cut short when it became clear Margaret was gravely ill and to aid her recovery James went on a pilgrimage walking 120 miles to St Ninian’s. His devotion was rewarded and Margaret recovered, allegedly at the very moment he arrived there and prayed.

The two had six children together, however only one of them would survive infancy. Their eldest son James died at a year old, while Margaret was pregnant with their second child. This child, a daughter, died the same say she was born. A third child, Arthur, followed in 1509 but died before he reached a year old. In April 1512 another James was born, who would survive and go on to become James V but it would seem his father was concerned at the early losses of his children which may explain how Margaret was delivered of another child eight months later. But the daughter, probably premature, died as her sister had, on the same day. Their last child together, Alexander, Duke of Ross would never be seen by James, who died before his birth at the Battle of Flodden.

Lady Angus*, Dowager Queen of Scotland

Margaret with her second husband, Archibald Douglas.

On 9th September 1513, the forces of Scotland met those of England at the Battle of Flodden Field. By now Margaret’s brother, Henry VIII, was King of England and tension between the two kingdoms had been brewing for some time. Even though Henry was abroad on a military campaign in France when James led the Scottish army over the border, the troops that maintained the border had remained behind and had been preparing for such an invasion since he’d notified them in advance of his intent.

Margaret, pregnant with Alexander, became increasingly convinced that James would be lost if he made war on England, but he was not deterred and went through with his plans. Despite their larger numbers, Scotland was defeated and with few exceptions, every noble house had lost someone. The Scottish nobility was devastated having lost not just their king but over two dozen earls, nobles and knights as well as a number of prominent churchmen.

When Margaret was brought the news of the defeat she was already so convinced by her premonitions that James was dead that she did not send out search parties. She became the regent for her son James who was seventeen months old at the time, though she could not act without the support of six lords of the council (three spiritual and three temporal). The will of James IV specified that she would remain as regent until she married or their son came of age, however as a woman and the sister of the enemy king she was not overly welcomed, and a faction soon formed demanding that John Stewart, 2nd Duke of Albany as third in line to the throne and the closest male relative to the young James V return from France to take over as regent.

In the months that followed Margaret worked to unify the Council, make peace with England and bring some order to Scotland which now had so few people left to enforce the law. She also gave birth to Alexander, Duke of Ross who would inherit the throne if anything happened to the young James.

Less than a year after Flodden however, Margaret surprised everyone by marrying in secret. Her choice of husband was Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus which caused massive division within the Scottish council. The marriage successfully alienated the Scottish nobility not just because she had allied herself with a particular clan, but because Angus himself was so unpopular. Shortly before his marriage to Margaret he had been betrothed to Lady Jane of Traquair, with whom he was supposedly very much in love before ambition compelled him to court the Dowager Queen. By marrying Margaret had arguably given up her position as regent and so Albany was recalled from France. Margaret’s second marriage would be dominated by Albany’s return and the resulting politics.

Margaret was commanded to relinquish control of her sons, but for the moment she remained regent even though the division had brought Scotland to the brink of civil war. With so many enemies about the place, Margaret relied heavily on the Angus clan which compounded the alienation of the Scottish lords to the point where she was considering fleeing into England for her safety.

Albany arrived to take up the regency in May 1515, but by now Margaret, against Angus’ advice, had taken her sons to Stirling Castle, where she only surrendered them when Albany launched a siege. At the time Margaret was pregnant again and retired to Linithlow Castle where she was to go into confinement. Angus joined her there, but instead of settling to have the baby, the two managed to escape across the border and into England. When they arrived at Harbottle Castle Margaret was able to tell of her treatment at the hands of Albany which had included practical imprisonment, her movements (when she had been permitted) had been watched, her letters intercepted and of course, her sons taken from her. As Albany had also seized her goods Margaret arrived in England with little more than the clothes she was wearing and so her brother and his wife arranged for her to have everything she might need in preparation for her lying in.

Recent events and the hurried escape into England at eight months pregnant had taken their toll on Margaret who now collapsed but was then delivered of a healthy baby girl, Lady Margaret Douglas. As with her other pregnancies, Margaret again took a long time to recover and it was some months before she could be moved to more suitable accommodation.

The New Year of 1516 came but Margaret continued to suffer with her health. Then came the news from Scotland that her son Alexander, Duke of Ross had died in Albany’s care, and though there were many to suggest it, Margaret did not believe that Albany had directly murdered the boy. When she had sufficiently recovered Margaret and Angus were invited to London to her brother’s court and while Margaret was happy to accept the invitation, Angus had, much to Margaret’s surprise, decided to reach an accord with Albany and return to Scotland without her.

Angus returned to his own lands while Margaret journeyed to Henry VIII’s court where she was well received and stayed the rest of the year. During this time Albany had been cast as a villain throughout Europe and was now desperately trying to come to an agreement with Margaret. He invited her back to Scotland to take up guardianship of her son, James and had the goods he had previously seized returned to her in London. Despite the return of her jewels and wardrobe, Margaret had yet to receive any of the income due to her from her dower lands. In 1517, Henry and Albany, with the help of Wolsey concluded a treaty which allowed Margaret to return to Scotland and see her son.

In practice, however, Margaret’s access to the now five-year-old king was severely restricted as she discovered when she returned the same year. At the time Albany was in France visiting his wife and he invited Margaret to assume the regency in his absence. Now that she was reunited with Angus Margaret suggested that the two of them rule as co-regents, something which the Council vehemently opposed to a man. Their objections were not, as might have been thought, a continuation of their earlier disapproval of the marriage, but based on Angus’ more recent exploits, which until now Margaret had been blissfully unaware of.

When Angus had left his wife and returned to his Scottish lands he was not to remain alone. Away from Margaret he had reunited with Lady Jane of Traquair and was now openly living with her in Margaret’s properties off Margaret’s income, hence why it had not been forthcoming while she was in England. Although the Council supported Margaret against Angus, in practice this amounted to very little and she was unable to recover much of her income. As her situation worsened the Council did not step in and so she was reduced to pawning her goods to pay her servants. Margaret wrote to her brother, Henry, and asked that she might be allowed to return to England and live separately from her husband. Not only was Henry opposed to the idea but he was aghast she would even suggest it and in response sent a churchman to remind her of morality.

The situation continued to deteriorate and Margaret started dismissing her staff. Her attempts to collect the rents due to her were obstructed by Angus who demanded his share as her husband. Meanwhile, with Albany still in France, the lords’ squabbling broke into open fighting and Margaret sided with her husband’s enemies. Eventually, she wrote to her brother again, this time saying that she was determined to divorce Angus who was treating her so badly and that her next marriage would be at Henry’s discretion. Henry, however, was still horrified and wrote back that his support was contingent on her reconciliation with Angus or at the very least her toleration of his affair.

Whereas the early part of Margaret and Angus’ marriage had been dominated by Scottish politics, now the situation was reversed with their domestic squabbles becoming the major factor in Scottish politics. Albany returned to Scotland in November 1521 where he and Margaret put aside their previous hostility and became friendly. She was happy to support him as regent and he regarded her honourably as the King’s mother. He stripped Angus’ family of the offices they had seized in his absence and supported her divorce petition in Rome, while she worked with him to bring order back to the Council. Angus went into exile in France but continued to trouble his wife, this time by encouraging the rumours that Albany and Margaret were having an affair. Despite having never met him, Henry VIII was fond of his brother in law and accepted the rumours, refusing to support Albany lest he kill the young king and marry his mother, assuming the throne for himself. Any letters that Margaret wrote decrying such suggestions were seen as coercion on the part of Albany which simply fuelled speculation that this was his plan.

In 1524 Angus was welcomed at the court of Henry VIII, and Henry wrote to Scotland proposing that the now twelve-year-old James, assume the throne under the guidance of Margaret and Angus. Regardless of her personal feelings towards him, Margaret knew that the Scottish lords would never countenance such a thing and she wrote back to her brother telling him to keep Angus away. As a result, Angus was kept at the border while James became king without a regent. Angus wrote to his wife while he was at the border, but Margaret refused to read them and returned his letters unopened. To Henry, it looked as though Angus was desperate to reconcile while Margaret had her brother keep him languishing at the border while she obtained her divorce. He, therefore, allowed Angus to return to Scotland. When news reached Margaret of her brother’s actions she wrote to him furiously that she would no longer rely on him for advice and she dismissed the English ambassadors from court. When Angus attempted to enter Edinburgh Margaret ordered him to withdraw and turned the city guns upon him to force the issue. Angus retreated but due to his natural position Margaret was forced to allow him his political dues and he rejoined the Council in February 1525.

Lady Methven*, The King’s Mother

Margaret with her second husband, but the man in the background pointing at Angus is thought to be Henry Stewart.

Margaret and Albany remained cordial and he continued to support her petition to Rome, which she renewed with greater enthusiasm after her confrontation with Angus at Edinburgh. Though it was not Angus’ behaviour that prompted her desire to rid herself of him, rather it was her own. Margaret’s eye had fallen on a man at court, a distant cousin of her first husband, Henry Stewart whom she was said to have fallen quite in love with. The two became lovers and she promoted him to Captain of the Guard, which in turn alienated a number of lords who now supported Angus against her.

Angus, however, forfeited all support in November 1526 when he failed to surrender his temporary guardianship of James V and took custody of the boy. James wrote to his mother asking for help, but despite repeated rescue attempts, it was not until 1528 when James himself orchestrated his own escape that he eluded his captors. In the December before James’ escape, Margaret had received word that her divorce had been granted and she was a free woman. The divorce was granted on the grounds of Angus’ pre-contract with the Lady Jane, which meant that Lady Margaret Douglas remained legitimate. Margaret married Henry Stewart just a few weeks before James managed to escape and return to his mother, where he created his new stepfather Lord Methven.

Although Angus attempted to take back the king, James V had him and his supporters sentenced to death for treason. James went on to lay siege to the castles that Angus retreated to until the latter was forced to flee into England, taking refuge with Henry VIII. Even though Henry and Angus were no longer related, they were still friendly, even more so given how Henry still railed against his sister’s divorce. He allowed Angus to remain in England, granted him a pension and even promised to make his restoration a condition of peace with Scotland, something which infuriated James.

Margaret remained involved in politics, actively campaigning for peace between England and Scotland. She and her husband would have a child together, a daughter, Dorothea, but she died in infancy. Meanwhile, Methven proved to be as bad a husband as Angus and set up house in one of Margaret’s castles with his mistress, Janet Stewart. Together they had a son, Henry Stewart, who lived with his parents on Margaret’s income which incensed Margaret (after Margaret’s death Methven would marry his mistress thus legitimising Henry Stewart who inherited his father’s title). Once again, Margaret sought divorce but this time her son would not allow it. Without support in Scotland, Margaret wrote to her brother seeking assistance, but Henry rarely responded to her letters.

Without the prospect of divorce, Margaret and Methven were reconciled, in 1538, to greet Mary of Guise who was to become James V’s wife. The two women became friendly and Margaret found a new role as a much needed and much-devoted grandmother, in April 1541 her two grandsons died and James and his wife leaned heavily on Margaret who knew the pain all to well.

Later that year Margaret fell ill at her home in Methven Castle for the last time. Though she had been reconciled to her husband for some time before this, her later years had seen her preoccupied with Angus and it was of him that she spoke her last words. When she realised that she was dying she asked those present to ask the King to reconcile with Angus and her final words were of him, saying, “I beg God for mercy that I have so offended the Earl.”

Monument marking where Margaret’s tomb was before the church was lost.

*During her lifetime I don’t think Margaret was known by either of these titles, she was known as the Dowager Queen of Scotland.

James III, King of Scots

"James III (10 July 1451 – 11 June 1488) was King of Scots from 1460 to 1488. James was an unpopular and ineffective monarch owing to an unwillingness to administer justice fairly, a policy of pursuing alliance with the Kingdom of England, and a disastrous relationship with nearly all his extended family.

His reputation as the first Renaissance monarch in Scotland has sometimes been exaggerated, based on attacks on him in later chronicles for being more interested in such unmanly pursuits as music than hunting, riding and leading his kingdom into war. In fact, the artistic legacy of his reign is slight, especially when compared to that of his successors, James IV and James V. Such evidence as there is consists of portrait coins produced during his reign that display the king in three-quarter profile wearing an imperial crown, the Trinity Altarpiece by Hugo van der Goes, which was probably not commissioned by the king, and an unusual hexagonal chapel at Restalrig near Edinburgh, perhaps inspired by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem."

James was born to James II of Scotland and Mary of Guelders. His exact date and place of birth have been a matter of debate. Claims were made that he was born in May 1452, or 10 or 20 July 1451. The place of birth was either Stirling Castle or the Castle of St Andrews, depending on the year. His most recent biographer, the historian Norman Macdougall, argued strongly for late May 1452 at St Andrews, Fife. He succeeded his father James II on 3 August 1460 and was crowned at Kelso Abbey, Roxburghshire, a week later.

[S11] Alison Weir, Britain's Royal Family: A Complete Genealogy (London, U.K.: The Bodley Head, 1999), pages 236-238. Hereinafter cited as Britain's Royal Family.

[S323] Sir James Balfour Paul, The Scots Peerage: founded on Wood's edition of Sir Robert Douglas's The Peerage of Scotland (Edinburgh, Scotland: David Douglas, 1904), volume I, pages 19, 21. Hereinafter cited as The Scots Peerage.

[S37] Charles Mosley, editor, Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes (Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003), volume 2, page 2768. Hereinafter cited as Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 107th edition.

[S266] #379 [7th edition, 1992] Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists, Who Came to America Before 1700 (7th edition, 1992), Weis, Frederick Lewis, (7th edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, c1992), FHL book 974 D2w 1992., p. 225 line 252:36.

[S394] #230 [5th edition, 1999] The Magna Charta Sureties, 1215 (5th edition, 1999), Adams, Arthur, (5th edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1999), FHL book 973 D2aa 1999., p. 121 line 92:12.

[S452] #21 The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct, or Dormant (1910), Cokayne, George Edward (main author) and Vicary Gibbs (added author), (New edition. 13 volumes in 14. London: St. Catherine Press,1910-), vol. 1 p. 156 fn. (a), 219 vol. 2 p. 237, 378.

[S3] Medieval Lands: A Prosopography of Medieval European Noble and Royal Families, Cawley, Charles, (http://fmg.ac/Projects/MedLands), SCOTLAND KINGS http://fmg.ac/Projects/MedLands/SCOTLAND.htm [Accessed Nov 2009].

[S39] Medieval, royalty, nobility family group sheets (filmed 1996), Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Family History Department. Medieval Family History Unit, (Manuscript. Salt Lake City, Utah : Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1996), FHL film 1553977-1553985..

[S20] Magna Carta Ancestry: A study in Colonial and Medieval Families, Richardson, Douglas, (Kimball G. Everingham, editor. 2nd edition, 2011), vol. 3 p. 587.

[S21] #226 The Peerage of Scotland: Containing an Historical and Genealogical Account of the Nobility of That Kingdom, from Their Origin to the Present Generation (2nd edition, 1813), Douglas, Sir Robert, (2nd edition. 2 volumes. Edinburgh: A. Constable, 1813), FHL book Q 941 D22d FHL microfilm 1,440,956 items., vol. 1 p. 51.

[S24] #16 Genealogisk-historiske tabeller over de nordiske rigers kongeslægter (1856), Königsfeldt, J. P. F., (2nd edition. Kjnhavn: Trykt i Bianco Lunos bogtrykkeri, 1856), FHL microfilm 1,124,504, item 3., p. 45.

[S404] The Magna Charta sureties, 1215 : the barons named in the Magna Charta, 1215, and some of their descendants who settled in America during the early colonial years, Weis, Frederick Lewis, (Baltimore [Maryland] : Genealogical Pub. Co., c1999 (5th ed.)), 973 D2aa 1999., p. 121 line 92:12.

[S37] #93 [Book version] The Dictionary of National Biography: from the Earliest Times to 1900 (1885-1900, reprint 1993), Stephen, Leslie, (22 volumes. 1885-1900. Reprint, Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1993), FHL book 920.042 D561n., vol. 29 p. 141-5.

[S32] #150 [1879-1967] A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage, Together with Memoirs of the Privy Councillors and Knights (1879-1967), Burke, Sir John Bernard, (London: Harrison, 1879-1967), FHL book 942 D22bup., 1949 ed. preface p. clxxxix.

[S16] #894 Cahiers de Saint-Louis (1976), Louis IX, Roi de France, (Angers: J. Saillot, 1976), FHL book 944 D22ds., vol. 2 p. 89, vol. 11 p. 848.

[S6] #189 The Scots Peerage: Founded on Wood's Edition of Sir Robert Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, Containing an Historical and Genealogical Account of the Nobility of that Kingdom, with Armorial Illustrations (1904-1914), Paul , Sir James Balfour, (9 volumes. Edinburgh: D. Douglas, 1904-1914), FHL book 941 D22p FHL microfilms104,157-104,161., vol. 1 p. 20-1 vol. 5 p. 639 vol.7 p. 245-6.

[S68] #673 The New England Historical and Genealogical Register (1846-), (Boston, Massachusetts: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1846-), FHL book 974 B2ne CD-ROM No 33 Parts 1-9 See FHL., vol. 122 p. 270.

James III of Scotland James IV of Scotland Margaret of Denmark

after Hugo van der Goes
photogravure, published 1902 (1478-1480)
4 7/8 in. x 8 5/8 in. (124 mm x 220 mm) plate size 9 3/4 in. x 14 7/8 in. (249 mm x 378 mm) paper size
Reference Collection
NPG D42378

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    (1452-1488), King of Scotland, reigned 1460-88. Sitter in 8 portraits. Identify (1473-1513), Reigned Scotland 1488-1513. Sitter associated with 14 portraits. Identify (circa 1456-1486), Queen of James III of Scotland. Sitter in 2 portraits. Identify

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Christian I

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Christian I, also spelled Christiern, (born 1426—died May 21, 1481, Copenhagen, Den.), king of Denmark (1448–81), Norway (1450–81), and Sweden (1457–64, 1465–67), and founder of the Oldenburg dynasty, which ruled Denmark until 1863. He tried to gain control over Sweden and maintain a union of the Scandinavian nations but was defeated by rebellious Swedish nobles (1471).

The son of Count Dietrich the Happy of Oldenburg and Hedvig of Holstein, Christian was elected to succeed Christopher III, king of Denmark and Norway, by the Danish Rigsråd (state council) in 1448. The following year he married his predecessor’s widow, Queen Dorothea of Hohenzollern. The decision of a meeting of the Danish and Swedish councils at Halmstad, Swed. (1450), recognizing Christian as king of Norway and heir in Sweden was disputed by the Swedish king Charles VIII, touching off a Danish-Swedish war (1451–57). After Charles was finally deposed in 1457, Christian held the Swedish throne until 1464, when he was overthrown by a group of the higher Swedish nobility. He held the throne again in 1465–67. His last full-scale attempt to gain sovereignty over Sweden was ended by his defeat at Brunkeberg, near Stockholm (1471), by forces led by the Swedish nobleman Sten Sture the Elder.

Christian gained control over both Schleswig (now split between Denmark and Germany) and Holstein (now in Germany) in 1460, at the time that the Schleswig ducal line died out. He offset the growing opposition of the Danish nobility by calling a meeting of the Danish estates (1468), a precedent followed by his immediate successors. Financially weak because of his wars against Sweden and land purchases in Schleswig and Holstein, Christian became dependent on the Hanseatic League, a north German trading confederation, and granted the league generous commercial privileges. He was drawn into a war with England (1469–74) when the Hanseatic traders challenged English trading rights in Iceland.

In 1469, when Christian’s daughter Margaret was married to James III, king of Scotland, the Norwegian-controlled Orkney and Shetland islands were mortgaged to Scotland to help pay for Margaret’s dowry, and the annual rent Scotland paid for the Hebrides Islands and the Isle of Man was cancelled. Christian concluded a concordat with Pope Sixtus IV, improving his relations with the Danish Church. After visiting Rome (1474) he obtained a papal bull (1475) for a university, which he founded at Copenhagen in 1479.

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Robert II

Reign: 1371-1390
Age at ascension: 55
Cause of death: Infirmity

Robert II was born by an early form of caesarean section to his teenage mother, which he survived by sadly she did not. She was carried to Paisley Abbey to give birth after she fell off her horse and went into premature labour. Today known as, ‘the cradle of the Royal House of Scotland,’ you can still visit the historic abbey. It has remained a working church since its foundation in 1163.

Story has it that Robert II had two wives, numerous mistresses and at least 20 children during his lifetime. Our present Queen Elizabeth II is in fact a descendant of his. Robert died aged 74 at his favourite residence, Dundonald Castle in Ayrshire. This historic area has been settled since the bronze and iron ages.

© Copyright National Library of Scotland via Wikimedia Commons licensed for reuse as a work in the public domain

Robert III

Reign: 1390-1406
Age at ascension: 50
Cause of death: Grief and low self-esteem

Kicked by a horse in 1388, Robert III never fully recovered from his injuries. By 1398 his health was so poor that the Scottish Parliament appointed his oldest son David, 1st Duke of Rothesay, to rule in his father’s place. However David died at just 24. Having failed to prevent an English invasion, David was starved to death in captivity under his uncle Robert, Duke of Albany. Robert III sought to protect his remaining son James Stewart by promoting him to Earl of Carrick.

In 1406 James’ men were beaten in battle, again at the hands of his ‘loving’ uncle Robert, Duke of Albany. James fled to Bass Rock – Scotland’s so-called Alcatraz – where he went into hiding. When James was captured by pirates during his rescue from the island the news proved too much for his father Robert III and prompted his death. He was buried in Paisley Abbey, where Queen Victoria respectfully marked his tomb with a canopy in 1888.

© Copyright National Portrait Gallery via Wikimedia Commons licensed for reuse as a work in the Public Domain

James I

Reign: 1406-1437
Age at ascension: 12
Cause of death: Murdered

Poet, musician and sportsman – James I was an intriguing king. He survived being kidnapped by pirates at the age of 12 and lived 18 years as a hostage. In fact he spent a period of time being held captive in the Tower of London. He was crowned at Scone in 1424, yet just 13 years after he ascended the throne James I was brutally stabbed to death. His body was left in a sewer beneath the Blackfriars monastery in Perth, the exact location of which remains a mystery.

The place where it is believed the Blackfriars monastery once stood is now home to a pub – quite the change of scene for such a historic location. The exact location of James I’s grave is also unknown. Locating it would prove a seismic historical find. What we do know is that he is buried somewhere in the grounds of Perth Charterhouse. It was once a highly impressive monastery, the construction of which he commissioned before his untimely demise.

© Copyright Scottish National Portrait Gallery via Wikimedia Commons licensed for reuse as a work in the Public Domain

James II

Reign: 1437-1460
Age at ascension: 6
Cause of death: Exploded by canon

Born James the ‘fiery face’ thanks to a distinguishing birthmark, James II was the youngest of the Stewart dynasty’s Kings to date. James II was just 6 years old when he was crowned at Holyrood Abbey, Edinburgh in 1437 – an unusual change from traditional Scone. You can still follow in his royal footsteps at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Here the remains of the abbey (founded in 1128) and James II’s burial site, still stand today.

To protect James II’s hold on the throne, Queen Joan (the wife of James I) wiped out the side of Robert II’s family which murdered James I. James II proved a mostly popular king, despite trying to banish football and golf in favour of archery in 1457. However it was ultimately his love of artillery which led to his death at just 29, when he was blown up during a siege by one of his own cannons.

© Copyright Scottish National Portrait Gallery via Wikimedia Commons licensed for reuse as a work in the Public Domain

James III

Reign: 1460-1488
Age at ascension: 9
Cause of death: Mysterious fall from horse

James III has had an enduring impact on Scotland. In 1468 he married Margaret of Denmark at Holyrood Abbey, Edinburgh. Without sufficient money to pay her dowry, her father (King Kristian I of Norway, Denmark and Sweden) mortgaged the bulk of the value (60,000 Guilders) against Orkney and Shetland.

4 years later King Kristian had failed to pay his debts to James III, so the Scottish Parliament claimed Orkney and Shetland as their own. The Scandinavian nations would not accept this move for centuries afterwards. However thanks to land deals carried out by James III, there was nothing much they could legally do about it. He mysteriously died after trying to flee the Battle of Sauchieburn when he fell from his horse was taken to a millhouse, never to be seen again.

© Copyright Scottish National Portrait Gallery via Wikimedia Commons licensed for reuse as a work in the Public Domain

James IV

Reign: 1488-1513
Age at ascension: 15
Cause of death: Killed in battle

Cited as one of ‘Scotland’s most charismatic warrior kings,’ it is the end of his life and thereafter which lives on in Scotland’s collective memory. James IV married Margaret Tudor, sister of Henry VIII, at Holyrood Abbey in 1503. However close family ties did not stop one of history’s most brutal ends for a Scottish king. It was the Battle of Flodden, or the Battle of Branxton Moor, which brought about a catastrophic end for James IV. It also wiped out an entire generation of Scottish nobility.

Killed in the 1513 battle against the English (which also claimed the lives of 10,000 other Scots) James IV’s body was sent to Catherine of Aragon on behalf of her husband Henry VIII. She recommended that he use it as a ‘war banner.’ For complex political reasons James IV’s body lay unattended for some time. Legend has it that his detached head was used as a football by workmen, before being taken home as a trophy. Ironically, the pub under which his head is said to rest is not, ‘The King’s Head,’ but, ‘The Red Herring.’

© Copyright Scottish National Portrait Gallery via Wikimedia Commons licensed for reuse as a work in the Public Domain

James V

Reign: 1513-1542
Age at ascension: 17 months
Cause of death: Nervous breakdown

Poor rule and corruption meant that James V inherited a country which was extraordinarily poor. As such, he needed to marry a bride with a hefty dowry to sustain the nation. At just 24 James V married Princess Madeleine of France. She died in his arms at Holyrood Palace shortly after, when tuberculosis claimed her life.

James V was somewhat sympathetic to the plight of the poor in Scotland. He sought to bring about law and order in the Scottish Borders and Highlands and Islands – Scotland’s most rural areas. James V was said to have travelled his kingdom disguised as a farmer. This humility and kindness was unusual for a monarch at this time. The defeat of his army during an attempted English invasion at Solway Moss in 1542 devastated him so greatly that it caused his death – just 6 days after the birth of his daughter.

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Mary Queen of Scots

Reign: 1542-1587 abdicated
Age at ascension: 6 days
Cause of death: Beheaded

Perhaps the most famous figure in Scottish history, Mary Queen of Scots was sent to France to be married at just 5 years old. When her husband died, still in his teens, she returned to Scotland a young widow, having changed her family name to ‘Stuart’ – the French spelling. Mary later married Lord Darnley, who murdered Mary’s secretary David Riccio in a fit of jealous rage. She was 6 months pregnant when she watched on in horror.

Darnley was later strangled and his lodging house exploded in somewhat mysterious circumstances. Mary was accused of treason and imprisoned for 19 years. Her reign and tragic life came to an end when she was beheaded by her cousin Elizabeth I of England. When the executioner held her head up to the crowd, he was left holding only her wig.

© Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum via Wikimedia Commons licensed for reuse as a work in the Public Domain

James VI

Reign: 1567-1603
Age at ascension: 13 months
Cause of death: Old age

Until 1603 Scotland and England remained two entirely separate kingdoms. When Queen Elizabeth I of England died unmarried and childless, the English crown passed to her cousin, King James VI of Scotland. This turning point in British history became known as, ‘the union of the crowns,’ and still remains the subject of intense debate over 400 years later.

It was James himself who pushed for tighter union between the two nations – starting the process of unifying laws, parliaments and economies within just a few weeks of his arrival in London. In 1606 he commissioned what we now know as the Union Jack flag. Our national flag boasts a design which combines the crosses of St George and St Andrew (each nation’s respective patron saint). The name Jack is short for Jacobus – Latin for James.

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Queen Margaret

They are sometimes referred to as the Odd Couple - the belligerent, warlike and bloodthirsty King of Scots and the beautiful, gentle and deeply religious queen he loved and adored.

Malcolm Canmore was the monarch of Scotland who created a royal dynasty which ruled for 200 years. But it was hid wife Margaret who really captured the hearts of the people, and who is loved and revered to this day as our only female saint.

St Margaret of Scotland was a remarkable woman who combined toughness, determination and discipline with real compassion, devotional piety and - above all - genuine concern for the poor.

She literally gave away the King's gold, personally fed and washed some of the lowliest peasants in the land, and would give away her own fine clothes to put on the backs of starving beggars.

As a result, she became the most loved royal Scotland has ever produced, and she is still so highly regarded to this day that both Catholics and Protestants put aside their modern differences to pay their respects to her.

Yet this remarkable woman who is still venerated nearly 1000 years after her birth wasn't actually Scottish at all. She was a Hungarian who had gone to England to live - and it was only the hand of fate which brought her here.

Margaret was born about 1046 in Castle Reka in southern Hungary. But her father, Edward the exile, had a legitimate claim to the English throne, and was sent for in 1054 to replace the ailing Edward the Confessor as English monarch.

Unfortunately, her father died almost as soon as he arrived, but Margaret and her mother Princess Agatha were invited to stay on at the English court. They lived a comfortable life, and the young girl grew up studying religion, Latin and English. It was at the English court that she first met Malcolm, who sought sanctuary there after the murder of his father Duncan by Macbeth.

Things started to go seriously wrong for Margaret, however, when William the Conqueror invaded England and won the Battle of Hastings in 1066. With a new Norman dynasty on the English throne, she and her family were advised to flee to Hungary.

They made their escape attempt, but wild storms blew their ship north until it eventually came to land at a sheltered cove on the north bank of the Forth - a spot now known as St Margaret's Hope.

News of their arrival quickly spread, and Malcolm himself made his way down from the royal palace at nearby Dunfermline to see what was going on. He was astonished and delighted to find that it was the girl he had known since childhood, now grown into a beautiful young woman.

Malcolm invited her to his court, and, having suffered the death of his first wife Ingibiorg, it wasn't long before he asked Margaret to marry him. The fact that she didn't say yes straightaway says a huge amount about her strength of character.

Most women would have pounced on a marriage proposal from a King, but it caused Margaret great trouble and worry. She had made her mind up to serve God by entering a convent, and knew that being Queen would be a much harder and more difficult task carrying real responsibilities. However - perhaps because she believed God was testing her - she accepted.

What is particularly interesting about the partnership between Margaret and Malcolm is that in an age when most royal marriages were forged for convenience or political purposes, they genuinely loved each other. She bore him no less than eight children, three of whom - Edgar, Alexander I and David I - were to themselves become kings of Scots and so secure the Canmore dynasty for hundreds of years.

The author and historian Father Mark Dilworth, who is a former Keeper of the Scottish Catholic Archives, says that the pair had huge affection for each other. "He loved her and tolerated her habits, such as giving his gold away to the poor. In his own way, he'd probably say 'girls will be girls'. It looks as if she had him eating out of her hand. Margaret seems to have originally wanted to be a hermit or a nun, but then decided it was her duty to be a Christian queen or mother."

Clearly the feisty Margaret came to an arrangement with Malcolm that things were going to be done her way. Her generosity and compassion were legendary. In the constant wars between Scots and English, for example, prisoners were always being brought back to be used a slaves. Margaret would buy the men off their captors, and then free them.

It is also said that no-one was ever turned away from her palace gates empty. She is said to have personally washed the feet of the poor during Lent, maintained those who could not look after themselves, taught religion to orphans, and fed 300 staving peasants in the royal hall at Dunfermline while she herself fasted. On occasion, she would literally give beggars the clothes off her back.

Malcolm, who is regarded as one of the fiercest and most devious warrior kings Scotland has ever produced, did nothing to stop her. He would even let her raid the common purse to feed the poor.

Only one thing outshone Margaret's commitment the poor: her piety before God. She regularly spent time in contemplative prayer, and her brilliant mind and first class education meant she could - and would - argue with and make suggestions to the religious leaders of the day.

Under her direct influence, the church began to keep a stricter Lenten and Easter observance and also attempted to maintain Sunday as a holy day of rest. Margaret personally attended many church councils, and invited three Benedictine monks from Canterbury to found a priory in Dunfermline - the first of a wave of monastic foundations in Scotland.

Like many Scots, she also venerated the shrine of the apostle Andrew at St Andrews and established a ferry across the Forth to take pilgrims there. The landing sites on both banks of the river are still known as North and South Queensferry.

For much of the time, however, Margaret was left on her own at the Scottish court. Malcolm spent months in conflict with the English, regularly mounting invasions which rarely came to anything. The Normans began the construction of a "New Castle" on the Tyne to keep him out, with a similar structure at Carlisle being built by the Conquerer's successor William Rufus.

By this period in Scottish history, Edinburgh was beginning to emerge as a town of some size, and the court would often move there, to convene on the spot now occupied by the castle. Margaret is said to have hated the place, though her son David - later to himself be king - built Queen Margaret's Chapel, which still stands within the castle precincts today, in her honour.

The marriage between Malcolm and Margaret lasted a remarkable 23 years, and only ended when another of the King's interminable assaults on northern England went tragically wrong. On 12 November 1093, he was cornered and killed - some say by trickery - in an assault on Alnwick in Northumberland. His son Edward died in the same battle.

For Margaret, who was already gravely ill in Edinburgh, the news of the death of her beloved husband and son was more than she could take. She died of a broken heart four days later, and her body was taken back to Dunfermline for burial.

Although clearly a good person, what made her so special that she was made a saint by the Pope in 1250? Mark Dilworth believes that her reputation for helping the poor and as a good mother would have led ordinary Scots people to venerate her long before her eventual canonisation.

"You have to remember that the rules over making saints weren't as rigid then. Pregnant women would pray to her because she'd had so many pregnancies herself. It's said that a nightshirt she put on was known as Queen Margaret's Sark and worn by all subsequent Scottish Queens when they gave birth, quite possibly down to Mary Queen of Scots.

"I would imagine that subsequent kings and queens would have come up with a few cures and things like that to help her on the path to sainthood. The cave in Dunfermline where she used to pray is venerated to this day, and it's not just Catholics who feel an affection for her. Members of the Church of Scotland have a great love of her as well."

In subsequent centuries, affection for Saint Margaret has spread across the world - even to North America, where a large number of churches are dedicated to her.

One of the most recent to receive her name was the Church of St Margaret of Scotland in North Conway, New Hampshire, which was only first dedicated in 1991. The church's Anglo-Catholic priest, Father Jeffrey Swayze, explains: "Margaret was a faithful mother and wife and a great disciple of Christianity, and her values spoke of her great commitment to God.

"It was because of her piety and commitment that our Bishop felt our new church should be dedicated to her. She really transformed the church in her country and inspired many of her people.

"As a parish, Margaret has certainly raised our interest in and knowledge of Scotland. We have an information board at the back of the church about her life, and quite a few of the parishioners have now been to Scotland. In fact, I've been over twice myself."

Malcolm III (Canmore) marries Margaret at Dunfermline. He meets her when she arrived in Scotland as a refugee and is instantly besotted with her. Their marriage is said to be an extremely happy one. Margaret introduces many of the customs of England to Scotland and carries out many acts of piety and charity. She dies in 1093 and is canonised in 1250.

1071 Margaret invites monks from Canterbury to found a monastery in Dunfermline.

1072 William the Conqueror invades Scotland in reprisal for Malcolm's intervention in English affairs. Malcolm submits at Abernethy and promises not to do it again.

1079 Malcolm does it again. He invades northern England and ravages Northumberland with the usual medieval savagery.

1080 England strikes back. Scotland is invaded and the English build their New Castle on the Tyne.

1087 William the Conqueror dies, and his son William Rufus is crowned in his place.

1091 Expedition time again as Malcolm once again marches into England. Once again, the Normans retaliate and once again, he apologies. A castle is built at Carlisle to try and keep him out.

1092 William Rufus wrests all Cumbria south of the Solway from Scotland.

1093 Malcolm mounts yet another invasion. This time, though, he is killed, allegedly when a lone English solder rides out of the town of Alnwick to offer surrender. The soldier dangles the keys on the end of his spear. When Malcolm reaches up to take them, the Englishman rams the spear through his eye and into his brain. In the ensuring battle his son Edward is also killed, and Margaret dies of grief four days later.

1093 Donald Bane is crowned king.

1094 Donald is deposed by Duncan II, but only rules for a few months before he is killed and Donald gets the throne back.

1097 Donald is captured, blinded and imprisoned by Edgar, who becomes a virtual dependant of William Rufus and Henry II of England.

1097 Edgar dies and Alexander I succeeds him.

1100 Beginning of formation of the clans.

1120 Alexander II founds St. Giles Cathedral.

1124 David I takes the Scottish throne. Period of strong ties with England begins.

1128 David I founds Holyrood Abbey.

1130 Edinburgh becomes a burgh.

1153 David dies at Carlisle. The new king is Malcolm IV.

1156 Somerled wins a naval victory against the ruling Norsemen off Islay.

1157 Henry II of England reclaims Northumberland and Cumberland.

1158 Malcolm goes to France to fight for Henry.

1164 Somerled dies. His land is broken up between his three sons.

1165 William I "The Lion" takes the Scottish throne.

1174 William forced by the Treaty of Falaise to accept Henry II's overlordship of Scotland.

1178 William founds Arbroath Abbey.

1189 He buys back Scottish sovereignty from Richard the Lionheart at the so-called Quitclaim of Canterbury.

1214 William I dies and is succeeded by Alexander II.

1250 Pope Innocent IV declares Margaret a saint. Her remains, along with Malcolm's, are moved to a shrine outside Dunfermline Abbey.

Meanwhile in the rest of the world.

1074 Married priests are excommunicated

1217 Salamanca University is founded

1218 Persia is conquered by Genghis Khan

1221 Vienna becomes a city

1204 Norman Crusaders capture Constantinople (1204-1261).

1115 Founding of Cistercian monestary of Clairvaux.

1209 Franciscan order recieves Papal approval.

1216 Dominican Order founded.

1100 Jews persecuted in France and Germany around this time.

1189 Jewish massacre in York, England.

1200 Lateran Council allows Jews to lend money.

1200 Southwestern and Mississippi cultures of North America begin to decline.

Watch the video: Margaret I Biography - King kristian I, James III, Margaret of Denmark. Great Womans Biography (July 2022).


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