IN this series about powers behind the Scottish throne, we have reached the reign of King James V who, like most Stewart/Stuart monarchs, became king at a young age so that regents were needed to rule Scotland while the child grew up.

The remarkable thing about James V is that he survived into adulthood and became king, albeit not a very good one, when many people at the time thought he would be usurped, probably by his second cousin, John Stewart, Duke of Albany.

In the case of James V, he was just 17 months old when his father, James IV, was killed leading an insane charge against the English army at Flodden in 1513. I have written on numerous occasions about how James IV got himself slaughtered along with a large contingent of Scottish nobles plus thousands of ordinary troopers in Scotland’s worst ever military disaster, and suffice to say it took a long time for the country to get over it.

James V’s mother was Margaret Tudor, daughter of England’s King Henry VII and sister of Henry VIII, and she moved quickly to become Regent in place of her son, as dictated in the will of her dead husband. I wrote a full column on Margaret Tudor three years ago and after further research I have no wish to change my verdict that the immediate period after Flodden was her finest hour, but her own passions caused her downfall.

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Dowager Queen Margaret and her second husband Archibald Douglas, the 6th Earl of Angus, plus her third husband Henry Stewart, the first Lord Methven, and the Duke of Albany, were the four powers behind the throne during the minority of James V and for much of his 29-year reign.

Margaret Tudor was the first to rule in the place of her son, and at first she did well, moving to have her son crowned king in the Chapel Royal at Stirling Castle just 12 days after Flodden. Also at Stirling, the Scottish Parliament met, though a good few of its members lay dead at Flodden, and confirmed her as Regent.

Among her first actions was to broker a peace with her brother Henry VIII who was happy to do so as he wanted the Scots off his backyard so he could make war against France – Flodden happened because the Auld Alliance meant James IV had to attack England as part of the mutual defence treaty with France.

She also asked Henry’s queen, Catherine (or Katherine) of Aragon for her husband’s body but she planned to give it to Henry VIII – the king’s body never was returned to Scotland and was lost in or around London. The English queen did send her sister-in-law messages of comfort including a remarkable missive that promised Margaret help if she could just keep the Scots quiet.

At first an English invasion was feared, however, though Margaret was not instrumental in organising the beginnings of Scottish defensive measures – Edinburgh’s town council took the initiative and erected the Flodden Wall, parts of which are still extant, though it took 45 years to complete.

Records do show that she busied herself with running the country, and, intent on making peace with her brother, she was also perhaps the inspiration for Scotland, France and England to start peace negotiations in 1514.

That peace treaty signed in July of that year showed that even bitter enemies could cease hostilities and it eventually led to France, England, the Holy Roman Empire, the Papacy, Spain, Burgundy and the Netherlands signing the non-aggression pact named the Treaty of London in 1518.

England’s Lord High Chancellor Cardinal Thomas Wolsey designed that Treaty, considered by many as a forerunner of the European Union and Nato, as each signatory nation was bound to come to the defence of any state that was attacked. Such a pity that modern England doesn’t know that part of its history …

Margaret did all this while pregnant with her late husband’s fourth and last son, Alexander Stewart, the Duke of Ross, who was born seven months after Flodden on April 30, 1514.

From the outset Margaret suffered from the prevalent misogyny of that era in Scotland. Women were not supposed to be in power, and as both mother of the king and regent, Margaret was at that time the most powerful woman Scotland had known, probably since her saintly namesake’s reign alongside Malcolm Canmore in the 11th century.

Her pro-English tendencies, quite natural given her brother’s kingship, did not find favour among the nobility of Scotland at that time, wedded as they were to the Auld Alliance with France for whom so many lofty Scottish families had made the ultimate sacrifice at Flodden. Yet it was not her policies that caused her problems, but her passions. It is often forgotten about Margaret Tudor that she was just 23 when she was widowed, very much a young woman of strong feelings.

ALREADY the mother of five children, only one of which survived to adulthood, Alexander, Duke of Ross, became the sixth child of the royal marriage and was immediately thrust into the high drama that surrounded the Dowager Queen Regent Margaret.

The National: James V of Scotland, (1806) was King of the Scots from 1513-1542James V of Scotland, (1806) was King of the Scots from 1513-1542

For less than three months after his birth, it emerged that Margaret had fallen in love with, and secretly married, Archibald Douglas, the 24-year-old 6th Earl of Angus, on August 6, 1514 – less than a year after Flodden. She had been married to a man much older than herself, and now married one of the same age. The intriguing possibility is that their affair began even while Margaret was expecting Alexander, and there is no doubt that Margaret and Angus were in close proximity for months – Parliament had insisted on an all-male Regency Council to assist Margaret, and the young and virile Angus was one of its members.

Maybe she thought that marrying such a powerful noble would give her some protection, but in fact the opposite proved to be the case. For Angus, as the leading magnate of Clan Douglas, was not very popular with the other nobles and he was soon swaggering around trying to push forward his interests.

Coupled with Margaret’s own pro-English feelings, Angus’s interventions led those nobles who were pro-French to group together and they convened a meeting of the general council that ended with John Stewart, the Duke of Albany, cousin of James IV and grandson of James III, being summoned from France to become governor of the realm.

Now the fight to control Scotland began in almost deadly earnest. The problem for Margaret was that she could only remain regent as long as she was unmarried, so now her foes in the nobility struck, and in 1515,

Albany moved quickly after his arrival in Scotland – a country he had never visited since his father’s forced exile in France – by insisting that Margaret surrender the young King James and his baby brother Alexander into his care. They were both well cared for, but Alexander succumbed to illness and died on December 18, 1515. He was not

quite two.

LOOKING back in time it is clear that Albany could have seized the throne, perhaps after arranging an illness for James V, but he appears to have had no desire to do so. He realised that the real power lay with the man who made the decisions, not the one who wore the crown.

He would have two periods as governor, from 1515 to 1517 and from 1521 to 1524. During the first of these periods, he negotiated the Treaty of Rouen that renewed the Auld Alliance, and in the second governorship he brought over an army from France though he did not invade England.

Albany seems to have been a firm but just ruler, and he was much missed after he went home to France, not least because the Earl of Angus was up to his tricks again. He and Margaret Tudor had a child, a girl who would grow up to be Lady Margaret Douglas, about whom I have written before – she would become the Countess of Lennox and give birth to Henry Darnley, husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, and thus an ancestor of the current Queen.

Henry VIII offered shelter to his sister Margaret but she went back to Scotland and negotiated a deal by which she once again became the guardian of her son the King. But just as she was passionate in her affair with Angus, so now her ardour cooled and she and the earl fell out spectacularly in a quite public manner, not least because Margaret found that her husband was living with his mistress and spending her money hand over fist.

Margaret wrote to her bother Henry VIII to say: “I am sore troubled with my Lord of Angus since my last coming into Scotland, and every day more and more, so that we have not been together this half year … I am so minded that, an I may by law of God and to my honour, to part with him, for I wit well he loves me not, as he shows me daily.”

At one point their relationship became so acrimonious that Margaret ordered cannons to be fired when Angus was approaching Edinburgh. She desperately wanted a divorce but the ultimate hypocrite Henry VIII refused to countenance it as it would bring shame on the Tudor family. A few years later he split with the Pope and founded the Church of England so he could get rid of his wife.

Margaret did get the divorce eventually in 1527, but by that time her brother Henry had enrolled Angus in his project of “Anglification” of the Scottish nobility. When James V’s minority officially ended in April, 1526, Angus moved quickly, taking the teenaged king into his “protective custody” and forcing Parliament to annul the statutes for the king’s protection and appointing himself as Chancellor.

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Again the possession of the king’s person dictated the power in the realm. For two years Angus kept the king as a virtual prisoner, but in 1528 a group of nobles led by the earls of Argyll, Arran, Moray and Bothwell banded together and set James free. His personal rule began almost immediately and practically his first action was to have his stepfather and his Douglas kin arraigned on charges of treason. Angus fled to mighty Tantallon Castle in East Lothian and after negotiations with Henry VIII, Angus was allowed to go into exile in England. The earl’s sister, Janet Douglas, Lady of Glamis, was not so fortunate. Though James V had once dropped charges of treason against her, in 1537 she faced fresh treason charges and was convicted of witchcraft, being burned at the stake at Edinburgh Castle on July 17, 1537.

The king’s mother had meanwhile remarried, this time to a distant cousin of her first husband, James IV. Henry Stewart, son of Lord Avondale, had been appointed Master of Artillery for James V in 1524, and was very much a favourite of Margaret Tudor, so much so that they were married in March 1528 – the Earl of Angus promptly besieged the couple in Stirling Castle. When King James escaped from Angus he joined his mother and new stepfather at Stirling, and he soon bonded with Henry who he created Lord Methven.

Methven proved an able advisor to James V, and that bond between them even survived the discovery that Methven had a long-time mistress, Janet Stewart, daughter of the Earl of Atholl. Methven would go on to serve James V and his widow, Queen Regent Mary of Guise, until his death in 1552.

Next week we will see how Mary of Guise helped her daughter Mary, Queen of Scots and meet the numerous men who schemed behind the throne of the young queen.