Margaret was born on 29 November 1489 at Westminster Palace, the eldest daughter of Henry VII of England and Elizabeth of York. She was baptized at St Margaret’s church shortly after.
In the Tudor period, daughters were often used to secure political alliances with other countries and kings. Margaret was one such daughter.
While still a young child, negotiations began for a marriage with King James IV of Scotland and Margaret, although it took many years to secure.
In 1503 the marriage was finally to take place. First by proxy on 25 January at Richmond Palace, and then later that year Margaret left Richmond Palace around 27 June and arrived in Scotland on 1 August 1503.
On 8 August 1503 Margaret married James IV at Holyrood Abbey, with the service performed by the Archbishop of Glasgow and the Archbishop of York.
The marriage produced five children, but only one survived into adulthood, the future James V of Scotland.
Margaret’s marriage was then to be cut short following her husband’s death at the Battle of Flodden on 9 September 1513. The infant James V now came to the throne, and his mother Margaret was named as Regent, for as long as she remained a widow.
As Scotland did not have good relations with England, there was suspicion to Margaret becoming Regent as she was the sister of Henry VIII of England who had acceded to the throne in April 1509, however Margaret managed to reconcile the opposing factions in Scotland, but by doing so she had become very close to the House of Douglas, especially Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus.
Margaret married Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus in secret on 6 August 1514, but not to be kept secret for long. The marriage angered the other noble houses and weakened Margaret’s position. Following her marriage, she fled with her children to Stirling Castle. She had forfeited her rights and was forced to agree to the appointment of John Steward, 2nd Duke of Albany as Regent, therefore losing her children, James V and her infant son Alexander; she then fled to Edinburgh.
Margaret was already pregnant with Angus’ child and in September 1514, she fled to England where she gave birth in Northumberland to a daughter Lady Margaret Douglas, future Countess of Lennox.
Angus’ wealth and influence was in Scotland, and instead of travelling to London with Margaret he chose to go back to Scotland; Margaret however continued onto London and arrived in May 1516. She stayed in London for one year and then returned to Scotland herself.
While Margaret was in England, her husband Angus had been living in Scotland with another woman, but still living off Margaret’s money. Her marriage was in complete decline, and Margaret was now considering divorce.
Although it had been the Duke of Albany that had originally taken Margaret’s regency from her, she was now to ally herself with the Albany camp and join others in calling for his return from France.
When Albany returned in 1521, she formed an alliance with him, however she had an agenda of her own and in 1524 Albany was overthrown and removed as regent.
James V now moved from Stirling to Edinburgh and would finally take up his powers on the throne of Scotland, with his mother as his chief adviser, but this was not to last for long.
Angus arrived and took custody of James V as he was still only twelve years old. Angus now exercised his power over the throne, which he would hold for the next three years.
Margaret was determined to gain a divorce from Angus and finally in March 1527, Pope Clement VII granted her request. Then on 3 March 1528 she married Henry Stewart, future 1st Lord Methven, but this again was not to be a happy marriage.
James V removed the hated Angus in June 1528, and could now rule Scotland in his own right.
Margaret’s political ambition was to forge a better understanding between Scotland and England, however James and Henry VIII were wary of each other, and James preferred an alliance with France.
In her later life Margaret made regular appearances at court and had a good relationship with both her son and his wife. She died at Methven Castle, Perthshire on 18 October 1541, and was buried at the Carthusian Charterhouse in Perth.