Thursday, 21 August 2014

Myths About Henry VIII's Six Wives

The average person's knowledge of the six wives of Henry VIII will most likely have been shaped more by myths than by concrete historical fact. This may seem a bold claim to make, but the continuing popularity of ideas such as Anne of Cleves being 'a Flanders Mare', for example, or Anne Boleyn a six-fingered witch who slept with her brother, tends to support this statement. 

The myths, legends and stereotypes of the six wives have been explored in some depth by Claire Ridgway over on The Anne Boleyn Files. This blog post concentrates in less detail on the most well-known, occasionally sensational, myths concerning these women, looking at each wife in turn.

Katherine of Aragon: Queen 1509-1533
Myth: Katherine was a bloodthirsty and fanatical Catholic.
Myth: Katherine was sultry, dark-haired and olive-skinned. 

Katherine was Henry's first queen, marrying him in 1509. Their marriage officially lasted some twenty-four years by the time that it was annulled in spring 1533, although Henry VIII had been actively seeking an annulment of it since at least 1527. Katherine had been expelled from court in 1531, and never saw her daughter, Mary Tudor, again. She died, heartbroken, in January 1536, probably of cancer.

Admittedly, there are not as many myths concerning Katherine of Aragon as there are for Henry's other queens.  Perhaps one lingering myth is of Katherine being a bloodthirsty Catholic who was fanatical about her faith to the point of brutality. This was suggested in Joanna Denny's controversial biography of Anne Boleyn (2004). Katherine certainly was, as David Starkey notes, a conventional and pious Catholic, and was the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, two dogmatic Roman Catholic rulers who had expelled the Jews from Granada in 1492. But there is no evidence of Katherine's supposed 'bloodthirstiness'. Some, perhaps seeking to explain Mary Tudor's religious policies as queen which infamously resulted in nearly 300 people being burned at the stake for heresy, have sought links with Katherine's Catholic faith, believing that she imposed her dogmatic religion on her daughter. There is no evidence of this. There is, in fact, little evidence of Katherine's personal beliefs on heresy, although it seems almost certain she viewed it with alarm and horror.

Above: a c.1502 portrait believed to depict Katherine as princess.

Another lingering myth about Katherine of Aragon is that she had a typical Spanish appearance: she was olive-skinned, dark-eyed, and black-haired. This is found in all varieties of popular culture: in the successful television series The Tudors, for example, Maria Doyle Kennedy depicts a brunette and swarthy Katherine. But as the above portrait shows (believed to be of Katherine in her youth), Katherine actually was of a very fair complexion, with long auburn hair and blue eyes. Attached to this myth is a belief that Katherine was physically ugly (in other words, looks were not her strong point). Yet historical evidence tends to confirm otherwise. During her lifetime, Katherine was described as being 'the most beautiful creature in the world', and Thomas More noted that there was 'nothing lacking in her that the most beautiful girl should have'. 

There are not as many myths about Katherine as there are, for instance, concerning her successor Anne Boleyn, but for many, Katherine of Aragon is visualised as a dogmatic, stubborn, dull and dowdy Spanish woman with a dark complexion. The truth is very different. She was fair, beautiful and well-educated, revered for her piety. 

Anne Boleyn: Queen 1533-1536
Myth: Anne Boleyn was deformed and disfigured, with six fingers.
Myth: Anne Boleyn was a witch. 
Myth: Anne Boleyn was a sexual predator. 

There seem to be more myths about Anne Boleyn, second queen of Henry VIII, than for any of his other wives. For many, Anne Boleyn was a six-fingered witch who likely slept with her brother. Others believe she was sexually 'corrupted' in France. Still others hold that she was physically disfigured, with moles and warts all over her body. 

Above: Anne Boleyn.

Nicholas Sander, a Catholic Reformation priest, invented a monstrous portrayal of Anne, whom he personally loathed and blamed for the development of the Reformation in England. He stated that she was very tall, with six fingers on one hand, a protruding tooth, and a wen under her chin. Sander reflected the Neoplatonic tradition, whereby a morally evil person was covered in deformities that revealed their true inner nature. George Wyatt, an apologist of the queen, amended Sander's characterisation to suggest that Anne had had a vestigial extra nail on one hand, but as Retha Warnicke as suggested, it is unlikely that Anne would have attracted the king had she even had this minor defect, at a time when deformities were regarded with horror and suspicion. Ambassadors who met Anne described her, surely accurately, as being of medium height, small-breasted, dark-haired, with a pretty mouth. No mention of deformities or warts there.

A second prevailing myth about Anne Boleyn is that she was actually a witch. This has been given impetus by Philippa Gregory's 2001 novel The Other Boleyn Girl, in which Anne consults with witches, produces a deformed child, and is said to seduce the king by witchcraft and sorcery. Sander depicted Anne as a witch and suggested that she had used the dark arts to become queen. Aside from this malicious propaganda, however, there is no evidence that Anne was a witch. She was never accused of witchcraft, contrary to popular belief. Henry VIII did state that he had been seduced into his second marriage by 'sortileges', but as Suzannah Lipscomb argues, this translates as 'divination' and suggests that Henry probably meant that he had been persuaded to marry Anne because of prophecies that she would bear a son. It does not necessarily translate as 'spells' or 'charms' that imply witchcraft. 

Above: Anne the sexual predator? Natalie Portman in The Other Boleyn Girl (2008).

Thirdly, a more popular myth in recent times casts Anne Boleyn as a sexual predator who not only manipulated Henry VIII into marriage, but seduced Henry Percy some years earlier, and possibly embarked on several extramarital affairs while queen, for which she was found guilty and executed. The Other Boleyn Girl presents a scheming and malicious Anne who plots to 'steal' the king from her sister and later sleeps with her brother George to conceive a male heir. In the first season of The Tudors, Natalie Dormer offers a similar portrayal: Anne is frequently naked or half-dressed, luring Henry with promises of sexual fulfilment and the son he so craves. But this is a myth! Feminist Karen Lindsey and Joanna Denny both suggest that Anne may have been sexually harassed by the king, for she may not have wished to marry him, and even if she did, it doesn't mean she purposefully went after him and sought to break up his marriage. There is also no convincing evidence that she slept around as queen, either.

Jane Seymour: Queen 1536-1537
Myth: Jane Seymour was a devout Catholic.
Myth: Jane Seymour supported and admired Katherine of Aragon and Mary Tudor.
Myth: Jane Seymour wanted Anne Boleyn dead. 

Just eleven days after Anne Boleyn was beheaded, Henry VIII married for the third time to his late wife's maid of honour, Jane Seymour. Like Anne, historians have varied widely in their assessments of Jane. Alison Weir wrote admiringly of her that she was 'a strong-minded matriarch in the making', and Antonia Fraser also voiced admiration for her piety, gentleness and good character. On the other end of the spectrum, Joanna Denny condemned her for being 'sly', and David Starkey wrote scathingly in his 2004 study of the six queens: 'How Jane Seymour became Queen of England is a mystery. In Tudor terms she came from nowhere and was nothing'!

Above: Jane Seymour as queen.

Perhaps the number one myth about Jane Seymour is that she was a devout Catholic. Martin Luther did describe her as 'an enemy of the gospel', and historians have traditionally cited her supposed support for Katherine of Aragon (of which more below) and the Catholic faith, which set her up in opposition to the radical Boleyns. However, Pamela Gross found in her study of Jane that there is no convincing evidence that Jane was a devout and pious Catholic in a similar manner to that of Katherine. Her reign was essentially passive and there is no evidence of her personal religious beliefs. She did not act as patron for any religious works, unlike Henry's other queens. Alison Weir, nonetheless, wrote in her 1991 biography of Henry's wives that 'she was known to be an orthodox Catholic with no heretical tendencies whatsoever, one who favoured the old ways and who might use her influence to dissuade the King from continuing with his radical religious reforms'.

The second myth about Jane is closely connected with the first: many writers believe she was a strong supporter of Katherine of Aragon and that she admired and loved Mary Tudor, Katherine's daughter. The Imperial ambassador Eustace Chapuys wrote that Jane 'suggested that the Princess [Mary] should be replaced in her former position.' Weir stated that 'Jane greatly admired Queen Katherine, and later used her as her own role model when she herself became queen'. As Gross and Retha Warnicke have both pointed out, however, there is no evidence of this. Linked to this, Jane has been credited as being a peacemaker who brought  Mary to court and reconciled her with her father. But Henry had insisted that Mary swear the Oath of Succession, thus agreeing that she was a bastard, and only restored her to favour and invited her to court in late 1536 when she had done so. Jane's involvement in this was minimal at best. 

Thirdly, many continue to believe that Jane was not content with Henry annulling his marriage to Anne, but wanted her dead. The Victorian historian Agnes Strickland called Jane's conduct 'shameless' and condemned her for encouraging Henry's advances while Anne lay in terror in the Tower, awaiting the sentence of death. Some of Jane's conduct does appear calculating, for example in refusing a gift of gold sovereigns from the king in March 1536 which was calculated to inflame the king's ardour for her. But we do not know if Jane was being coached by her ambitious family, or whether she really was a virginal and chaste young woman who sought to protect her dignity and honour. There is no evidence that she wanted Anne dead, and we just do not know how she felt about her. 

Anne of Cleves: Queen 1540
Myth: Anne of Cleves was 'a Flanders mare'.

There is only one major myth related to Anne of Cleves, but it is a major one. It has become enshrined in historical and popular consciousness worldwide that Anne, fourth wife of Henry VIII, was so ugly that he called her 'a Flanders mare'. This is still repeated in both novels and non-fiction. But it is exactly that: a myth. Henry VIII never referred to her as such - the label 'Flanders mare' dates from 1759 (Smollett, A Complete History of England), some two hundred years later!

Above: Anne of Cleves. 

Anne is often depicted in popular culture as an ugly, awkward, disfigured but jolly woman who was too stupid to save her marriage, and blindly accepted the settlement which Henry bestowed upon her following the annulment of their marriage. But there is no evidence that Anne was unattractive. Christopher Mont, who resided in the household of Master Secretary Thomas Cromwell, stated that: 'everybody praises the lady's beauty, both of face and body. One said that she excelled the Duchess [of Milan] as the golden sun doth the silver moon'. Anne was not smelly, a popular misconception. Retha Warnicke published a study of Anne in 2000, and suggested that Anne was actually a very attractive woman with pleasant features. It was not so much her physical appearance that offended the king, it was the fact that he believed that she was pre-contracted to the duke of Lorraine, consequently impeding the consummation of his marriage to Anne. Psychological and cultural factors were at stake, rather than appearance.

Anne does not appear to have been a stupid woman, either. She got on well with Katherine Howard, her successor, and she was close to all of Henry's children, especially Elizabeth. She was famed for her successful household, and was much praised by all who knew her. To me, this indicates an intelligent, resourceful and perceptive woman of good sense. The fact that she seems to have gotten on well with all who knew her also suggests she was pleasant, kind, and good company. Hardly a 'Flanders mare'.

Katherine Howard: Queen 1540-1541 
Myth: Katherine Howard was Henry VIII's 'rose without a thorn'. 

I have already covered in detail misconceptions of Katherine Howard on this blog, and you can read my biography of Katherine (available NOW on Amazon), if you would like to learn more about her. Here, though, I will concentrate on one major myth about her that has recently been demolished by Claire Ridgway: that she was the king's blushing 'rose without a thorn'.

Above: Portrait of a woman, c. 1540, possibly Katherine Howard.

Agnes Strickland in the nineteenth century wrote of how Henry VIII ordered a coin struck in celebration of his marriage to Katherine, on which he referred to his new bride as his blushing 'rose without a thorn'. The name has since stuck - it was the title of Jean Plaidy's 1991 historical novel about Katherine, and is referenced by the likes of Philippa Gregory, Alison Weir, Antonia Fraser and Joanna Denny. But the legend on the coin, 'HENRICUS VIII. RUTILANS ROSA SINE SPINA', actually refers to Henry VIII himself, as noted by Dye's Coin Encyclopaedia. Tony Clayton noted that the coin was first struck in 1526, when the king was married to his first wife, Katherine of Aragon, so it had nothing to do with his marriage to Katherine Howard fourteen years later. David Starkey pointed out in his 2004 book that the motto/legend referred to Henry VIII and that the rose badge had nothing to do with Katherine, for she 'seems to have displayed no personal badge'. Sadly, then, for romantics, Katherine Howard was not affectionately nicknamed 'the rose without a thorn' by her adoring husband.

Katherine Parr: Queen 1543-1547
Myth: Katherine Parr was Henry VIII's nursemaid. 
Myth: Katherine Parr was a heretic who could have been burned alive. 
Myth: Katherine Parr was the least important of Henry VIII's wives. 

Above: Katherine Parr.

Katherine Parr was thirty-one when she became the sixth wife of Henry VIII in the summer of 1543. A prevailing myth about her, given both her age and Henry VIII's infirmities, is that she was not so much Henry's wife as she was his nursemaid. Legend has it that she applied poultices to the ageing king's leg ulcer and soothing him. Popular culture often follows this myth: in the 1970 BBC TV series The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Katherine Parr is a dowdy and frumpy middle-aged woman who nurses her ageing husband, and even in The Tudors, the glamorous Joely Richardson applies poultices to Henry's ulcer. As with the aforementioned myth concerning Katherine Howard, however, it seems this myth of Katherine Parr as nursemaid originated with the Victorian historian Agnes Strickland. David Starkey dismissed it contemptuously, and noted that the idea of a Tudor queen being her husband's nurse would have been both repulsive and unthinkable to the Tudors. There is no evidence that Katherine was her husband's nursemaid, contrary to popular belief.

A second prevailing myth about the sixth wife is that she was a Protestant heretic who could have been - and who almost was - burned at the stake for heresy in the mid-1540s. Katherine was definitely a reformist, and Antonia Fraser, among others, has consequently described her as the first Protestant queen of England. However, Parr's biographer Linda Porter notes that the Parr family 'were associated with reform and not ostentatiously so'. Katherine's printed works, including Prayers Stirring the Mind unto Heavenly Meditations, establishes her as an ardent evangelical who believed that the Bible should be in English. But Katherine cannot necessarily be called a heretic who was almost burned alive. John Foxe, in his "Book of Martyrs", depicted both Anne Boleyn and Katherine Parr as ardent Protestant queens who rescued England from the evils of the papacy, representing Anne as a martyr for her faith and Katherine nearly so, and he associated Katherine with the Protestant Anne Askew, who was burned alive in 1546 having been tortured. But we do not know how factual this account was, and it is uncertain if Katherine Parr really did come close to being charged with heresy. 

Above: Katherine Parr as queen.

Finally, Katherine is often dismissed as the least important of Henry VIII's wives (beginning with historian Martin Hume in 1905), and as being boring and dull. However, she was far from that, and was one of the most important of his queens. Aside from her religious roles and activities, Katherine was an excellent stepmother who brought all three of Henry's children to court, establishing strong relationships with them (although she experienced conflict with Mary when Katherine remarried very soon after Henry VIII's death). Linda Porter describes how Katherine and Mary were close companions who shared a love of jewellery and fashion, music and dancing, and suggests that Katherine acted as a mother for the younger children, Elizabeth and Edward. Henry VIII also evidently trusted and respected Katherine enough to appoint her as his regent in 1544, when he left to pursue a war in France. Only Katherine of Aragon (in 1513) had previously occupied this honoured and trusted position. Her three month regency proved to be a success. Katherine was also the first Queen of England to become an author.

In conclusion, many myths and legends exist about the six wives of Henry VIII. This article has sought to demolish the most famous ones, seeking to offer the truth behind the legend. 

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Release of "Katherine Howard: A New History"

My book, Katherine Howard: A New History, was published by Made Global Publishing on 13 August 2014 and is now available for purchase through Amazon. You can buy it either in a paperback format or on Kindle. The links are here:

Amazon US: 

Amazon UK:

As many of you will know, I have been researching Katherine's life properly since 2012. This blog began in November 2012, when after much thought I decided to regularly write about historical topics that interested me, and publicise them to as wide an audience as possible. Fittingly, perhaps, my first blog post in November of that year was on Katherine, discussing her birth date and childhood. If you are interested in reading this post, the link is here:

I have been astounded and humbled by the support I have received both with this blog and with my book. I thank each and every reader who has taken the time to read my blog posts, offer their thoughts (which I always appreciate), and continue visiting this site. If you are interested in reading the findings of my research over the course of several years, I encourage you to consider buying my book. As ever, I warmly welcome your thoughts on it. 

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Margaret Tudor: the Forgotten Tudor?

Above: Margaret Tudor, queen of Scotland.

Henry VIII tends to outshine all of his siblings, for obvious reasons. Even so, most people, thanks to The Tudors' brazen portrayal, have some knowledge of his younger, impetuous sister Mary Tudor, who married first the king of France and later her brother's best friend, Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk. Henry's elder brother Arthur Tudor, heir to the throne until his death at fifteen, is generally known for being the first husband of Henry's first wife, Katherine of Aragon. Controversy raged as to whether Arthur and Katherine had consummated their marriage. 

But few are generally aware of Henry's elder sister, Margaret Tudor, who, like her younger sister Mary, was a queen. Margaret's life, in fact, was every bit as tumultuous and volatile as that of her younger brother. Her marriages and politics significantly shaped the future of both Scotland and of England. She was the grandmother of Mary Queen of Scots and the great-grandmother of James VI of Scotland and I of England. Her actions, in fact, played some part in the later union with England which was to result in the Act of Union in 1707. It might then be asked, how is it that Margaret remains so obscure a figure?

Above: Margaret's parents, Henry VII (left) and Elizabeth of York (right).

Margaret Tudor was the second child of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, who had married in 1486. She was born on 28 November 1489 at Westminster Palace in London. Although her father surely hoped for a second son, royal daughters were extremely useful because, through their marriages to foreign powers, they allied their countries with powerful states in prestigious unions. She spent her early years at her father's favourite place, Sheen, near the Thames (the palace was later renamed Richmond Palace), until a fire caused the royal nursery to be moved to Eltham. Margaret at an early age learned to play the lute, clavichord and to dance, traditional skills associated with feminine royalty. She also studied Latin and French, and pursued archery. It is likely that Queen Elizabeth ensured that her daughter also learned the traditional female skills of embroidery, sewing, and housewifery. 

Henry was determined to bolster the prestige of the Tudor crown, particularly because pretenders continued to threaten its security. The Yorkist threat remained, meaning that the Tudor dynasty remained fragile. At the same time, England sought to achieve harmony with its northern neighbour, for the two had customarily experienced hostile and suspicious relations with one another. In view of these factors, it is unsurprising that the Tudor king arranged for his eldest daughter Margaret to marry James IV, King of Scots, a man sixteen years her senior. On 24 January 1502, the marriage treaty between England and Scotland was concluded. Henry promised a £10,000 dowry for his daughter's hand, while the Scottish king swore his bride would receive £1000 Scots per annum alongside lands and castles affording a further income of £6000 each year.

Above: James IV of Scotland, first husband of Margaret Tudor.

In February 1503, the royal family was plunged into tragedy with the death of the queen and Margaret's mother, Elizabeth of York, at the Tower of London aged thirty-seven. How Margaret felt is unknown, but at just thirteen years of age, it is reasonable to believe it impacted severely upon her. Nonetheless, preparations for her journey to Scotland continued, and on 8 July she commenced her journey north, her retinue led by the Earl of Surrey. The formal marriage service took place in Holyroodhouse on 8 August 1503. As historians have conjectured, Margaret may have found it discomfiting that her husband had seven bastard children, housed in her own dower castle of Stirling, and continued to visit his mistress Janet Kennedy. 

Margaret's most important role as queen was to produce a male heir to safeguard the dynasty, and she duly did so in 1507, but the prince, named James for his father, died at Stirling in February 1508. A daughter born in July of that year died the same day. Like her sister-in-law Katherine of Aragon, Margaret experienced some tragedies in childbirth, but she was later to produce a healthy son. On 11 April 1512, aged twenty-two, Margaret gave birth to James, who later became James V, on his father's death at the Battle of Flodden on 9 September 1513. 

Margaret was, according to her husband's will, to serve as regent, provided that she did not remarry. Four nobles headed a council to assist her in governing the realm. On 6 August 1514, less than a year after her first husband's death, Margaret remarried. Her husband was Archibald Douglas, sixth earl of Angus, the greatest Scottish magnate. Because of this decision, Margaret renounced her position as regent of the realm. Margaret's decision was perhaps regarded as impetuous and foolish, but she perhaps sought a measure of security and stability, being as she was a young widow with an infant son, alone in a foreign realm. 

Above: Mary Stuart, queen of Scotland, was the granddaughter of Margaret Tudor.

The council subsequently invited John Stewart, cousin to the late king, to become regent. Margaret was distrusted, for her husband was extremely unpopular with the other magnates, and because she was rumoured to favour England over her adopted realm. Margaret deeply distrusted and resent Stewart, duke of Albany, and encouraged her brother, Henry of England, to restore her authority by force. On 30 September 1515, desperate and disillusioned, the former queen fled to England, in a move that strikingly foreshadowed that of her granddaughter Mary Stuart some fifty years later. Both queens sought refuge and assistance in England. 

On 7 October, the heavily pregnant queen gave birth to a daughter, Margaret Douglas. The ordeal nearly killed her and left her very weak. When she lay seriously ill at Morpeth, her second son Alexander died in December of that year. On 3 May 1516, Margaret arrived in London and met her brother for the first time in thirteen years, since she had left for Scotland in summer 1503. She remained in England for over a year, separated from her husband, while the Scottish council promised to send the jewels after her and to pay her rents. While she received her jewels, her revenues were not in fact restored, forcing the humiliated queen to seek money from Cardinal Thomas Wolsey.

In May 1517, Margaret journeyed back to Scotland, having been promised in advance that she would be treated well and would not be arrested, nor would her company be. However, her marriage to Angus was coming under increasing strain. Her husband had taken a mistress while Margaret had resided in England, and he had taken the queen's rents from Methven and Ettrick Forest. When she discovered her husband's affair, Margaret begged Henry to let her return to England. He refused, and urged her to return to her husband. Because of this, coupled with Scottish diplomatic politics in which closer links were sought with France as a means of securing both powers in the case of an English invasion, Margaret had become a marginal figure in Scotland by 1519. 

Above: Margaret's younger brother, Henry VIII, king of England.

Conflicts between Albany and the Scottish nobles persisted, especially due to Albany's detainment in France. In December 1521, Albany returned to Edinburgh and was warmly welcomed by Margaret, who hoped that he would restore her revenues and help her obtain an annulment of her unsuccessful marriage to Angus. Henry VIII became aware of rumours that his sister was Albany's mistress and rebuked her in a letter, causing the indignant Margaret to write an emotional reply to his 'sharp and unkind letter'. Albany banished Angus and his brother George to France, and even gathered an army in September for the purpose of invading England; although the memory of Flodden deterred him from pursuing this course. Eventually, a truce was achieved. 

When Albany left again for France in 1524, Margaret won the support of the Hamiltons, a powerful Scottish noble family, headed by the second earl of Arran. A coup was achieved which brought to an end Albany's regency and on 26 July of that year, invested Margaret's twelve-year old son James with full royal authority. Margaret's government met with hostility and suspicion, however, for it was perceived that the queen lacked good counsel, and the duke of Norfolk wrote to Wolsey of how unpopular Margaret had become, as a result. Margaret continued to urge Albany, who resided abroad, to help her seek a divorce from Angus, who troubled her. She had determined to marry Henry Stewart, her treasurer. The Pope finally annulled the marriage in March 1527, on the grounds of Angus' pre-contract to Lady Jane Stewart. Soon afterwards, the infatuated Margaret married Henry Stewart, and acknowledged him as her husband for the first time about April 1528. Angus retaliated by arresting Stewart and confining him, but James V expelled not just Angus, but his own family, from government. Henry was created Lord Methven and the Douglases were found guilty of treason. Margaret, however, was furious when her brother sheltered Angus in England.

Margaret's relations with her son were complex, especially because of conflict regarding foreign policy. Margaret favoured closer relations with her home country, England, and encouraged her son to marry his cousin, Mary Tudor, daughter of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon. James, however, renewed the French alliance. The queen's hopes of an Anglo-Scottish alliance were dashed when her son married Madeleine of Valois in 1537.

James V of Scotland2.jpg
Above: James V of Scotland, son of Margaret Tudor.

Margaret's personal difficulties with her husbands continued, for Lord Methven had taken a mistress by the mid-1530s, causing her to send a stream of letters to Henry VIII and his ministers complaining. He had so wasted her revenues that she was 8000 marks in debt. She sought to divorce him but was unsuccessful, although she did try to escape to Berwick in autumn 1537 before being intercepted. Queen Madeleine had died in July of that year, and her son, who continued to favour an alliance with France, married Marie of Guise, whom Henry VIII had shown some interest in as a prospective bride after the death of his third consort, Jane Seymour. 

Margaret's final years were unsuccessful, lonely and unhappy. On 18 October 1541, aged fifty-one, she died after experiencing a stroke at Methven Castle. Her son did not arrive in time, although his mother had requested his presence at her deathbed. She was buried in St John's Abbey in Perth. 

Richard Glen Eaves writes of Margaret thus:

'It is difficult to gain a clear impression of Queen Margaret, in terms either of her personality or of her impact on events... It seems clear that her years in Scotland were generally unhappy. She was only twenty-three when her first husband was killed, her two subsequent marriages both failed utterly, and she had limited contact with both her son in Scotland and her daughter in England... But in one respect she was undeniably a successful queen, for it was from her first marriage that there sprang the line that eventually united England and Scotland'.