Magazine article History Today

Marriage of James IV of Scots and Margaret Tudor: August 8th, 1503. (Months Past)

Magazine article History Today

Marriage of James IV of Scots and Margaret Tudor: August 8th, 1503. (Months Past)

Article excerpt

DASHING, ACCOMPLISHED, highly intelligent and interested in everything, James IV of Scots enjoyed himself with mistresses while manoeuvering to secure a politically useful bride. He was thirty when a small, dumpy thirteen-year-old from England, daughter of Henry VII, reached Scotland for a wedding which a hundred years later would put a Scottish king on the English throne. That prospect had been foreseen in the long negotiations that preceded the signing of the marriage agreement in 1502. Henry VII reportedly told his advisers that a Scots king might one day inherit England, but England would be the gainer as the dominant partner in an enlarged realm: 'the accession will be of Scotland to England, not of England to Scotland.'

Margaret's train on the journey north by York, Durham, Newcastle and Berwick was headed by the Earl of Surrey, with his Countess as the princess's chaperone. John Young, Somerset Herald, was sent along to make an official record. The ladies rode on palfreys or were drawn on litters, escorted by gentlemen, squires and pages, with trumpeters, drummers and minstrels. The party crossed the border into Scotland on August 1st, 1503, to be greeted by the Archbishop of Glasgow and a thousand Scottish lords and gentlemen 'in rich jewels and massy chains'. At Dalkeith Castle on August 3rd, King James himself, in a crimson velvet jacket, rode in with a train of horsemen. Margaret curtsied deeply and he bowed low and they kissed in greeting. They talked together privately and sat together at supper and afterwards he played to her on the clavichord and the lute. Two nights later she played for him.

On Monday August 7th, they made a state entry into Edinburgh, both of them in cloth of gold trimmed with black velvet or black fur. To tremendous cheers and the clangour of bells they rode in on one horse, with Margaret riding pillion behind the King, escorted by two hundred knights and pausing to witness numerous pageants. …

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