The Lost Tudor Princess: The Life of Lady Margaret Douglas by Alison Weir

  The seizure of Dumbarton was now crucial to both the English and the Scots, but on October 22, Sadler expressed the opinion that “Lennox would as lief depart with his right hand as with Dumbarton Castle, and to move it to him were the next way to make him revolt to the adverse party, with the French money and munition”; therefore his advice was “not to be over hasty for that till it be seen whether he will repair to the King.”32 The next day he heard from Angus’s father-in-law, Lord Maxwell, that Lennox did desire “the marriage of Angus’s daughter and the government of this realm, but would not be induced to repair to the King, until assured of the King’s mind towards him in these things, as he would lose the French King and all his profits in France.” But Maxwell had no great confidence in Lennox, and he was not alone in thinking that Lennox would “hold in on both sides till he perceives the King’s mind in his desires.”33

  Angus and the other lords could not make Lennox budge. He still professed himself keen to marry Margaret, but was unwilling to travel down to London until assured of sufficient funds from King Henry to compensate for what he would lose in France and Scotland if the marriage went ahead.34 Even now he had not given up hope of marrying Marie de Guise, whose hand he again demanded in November.35 But she and her party were keen to be rid of him. On November 29, Chapuys reported from London that Lennox “had half revolted against the French, and practises a marriage with this King’s niece.”36

  Lennox was away gathering forces against Arran when, in December, the Catholic-dominated Scottish Parliament repudiated Queen Mary’s betrothal to Prince Edward and began looking toward renewing Scotland’s ancient alliance with France. Henry VIII, incensed, and more determined than ever to unite the two kingdoms under Tudor rule, declared war on Scotland.

  Lennox now temporarily cooled toward Henry. Chapuys wrote: “The Earl of Lennox was about to take this King’s part because of the good treatment offered him, together with the marriage of the King’s niece,” but had “broken off his practice with this King and turned against him once more.”37 But when Arran froze Lennox out of the Council, Lennox retaliated by giving his full backing to Angus and others who supported the English marriage alliance.38 He helped Angus and his party to raise troops and marched with them on Edinburgh, bent on compelling Arran to agree to their terms; but they found themselves critically outnumbered. Forced to agree to a humiliating treaty,39 they slunk off to their estates. Margaret was probably concerned about her father; she wrote to him before January 15, her letter being enclosed with a dispatch sent by the Duke of Suffolk to George Douglas.40


  In November the Lady Mary had given Margaret a gift of £4 (£1,230) and rewarded her with 3s.4d. (£50) for “bringing cheese to my lady’s Grace”; she also paid Margaret’s servant Peter for embroidering a pair of sleeves for her. Margaret, Mary and the young Elizabeth all kept Christmas at Whitehall, and at New Year’s 1544, Margaret “delivered herself” a gift to Mary, who gave Margaret’s three gentlewomen a sovereign (£380) each.41

  Margaret was now in high favor at the English court. In February 1544, Juan Esteban, the Spanish Duke of Najera, visited Whitehall, and after he had been received by the King “the Duke came forth and was accompanied to the Queen’s chamber, where were also the Princess Mary and many attendants, including a daughter of the Queen of Scotland. The Duke kissed the Queen’s hand and was then conducted to another chamber to which the Queen and ladies followed and there was music and much beautiful dancing.” Resplendent in a gown of cloth of gold and scarlet velvet, “the Queen danced first with her brother, very gracefully, and then Princess Mary and the Princess of Scotland danced with other gentlemen, and many other ladies [who] were dressed in different silks with splendid headdresses also danced. After the dancing had lasted several hours, the Queen returned to her chamber, first causing one of the noblemen who spoke Spanish to offer some presents to the Duke, who kissed her hand. He would likewise have kissed that of the Princess Mary, but she offered her lips”—the customary way in which women were greeted in England—“and so he saluted her and all the other ladies.”42


  The birth of a son, Francis, to the Dauphin Henry of France in January 1544 brought with it the prospect of a great marriage for the young Queen Mary, and hardened the Scots’ resolve never to allow her to wed Prince Edward.43 But Henry VIII was determined to have his way, and by February 1544 he had decided to send an army into Scotland.44 That month he gave his assent to a new Act of Succession that Parliament had drawn up the previous July.45 Margaret, along with the other Scottish heirs of Margaret Tudor, was excluded, probably because Henry was bent on undermining the claim of Queen Mary to the English crown, intending that she would only become queen of England if his plans to marry her to Edward came to fruition. That way he could preempt the Scots from ever ruling England. Of course he had to exclude Margaret too, and in doing so he was also preempting any future claims by Lennox in right of his wife that might trouble Henry’s successors and threaten the union of England and Scotland under Tudor rule. It has been suggested that another consideration was Margaret’s staunch Catholicism, the King perhaps fearing that she would return England to the Roman fold,46 but there is no evidence that she had provoked him by showing any signs of allegiance to the Pope, and indeed there is no significant evidence of her attachment to the Catholic cause in this period.


  Disillusioned and disaffected by affairs in Scotland, Lennox and his allies—Angus, Glencairn and Gilbert Kennedy, Earl of Cassilis—looked to the friendship and support of Henry VIII, just as Henry was seeking to build a strong party in Scotland in support of the marriage of Edward and Mary.47 In negotiating with the English King, Lennox was committing treason, but, given his grievances, he no doubt considered his actions justified.

  In February, Angus sent his chaplain, Sir John Penvan, to meet Sadler and two English Privy Councilors, Hertford and Cuthbert Tunstall, Bishop of Durham, at a place called Darnton48 to treat of the marriage of Margaret and Lennox.49 Lennox sent with them his secretary, Thomas Bishop, a notary public and former sheriff clerk of Dumbarton, and a man who was to loom large and dangerous in Margaret’s story. He was there to lay down Lennox’s terms for her hand. What Lennox had to offer was invaluable to Henry, since few Scottish nobles favored the English alliance, and the King was gratified to have two of the most powerful, Lennox and Angus, working on his behalf. Lennox’s affinity of fighting men, the money and arms he had covertly commandeered from the French, his knowledge of France, and his military experience would all be exceptionally useful to Henry, who saw this splendid marriage with Margaret Douglas as a means of keeping Lennox firmly in the English camp.

  On March 8, Penvan told the English deputation that Thomas Bishop was “repairing to court to see the Lady Margaret, with whom (Penvan says) Lennox is far in love, and only refrains from coming himself because he would first convey his brother out of France, whom he intends secretly to call home, and for whom he desires safe-conduct to Calais and through England.”50 Lennox had never met Margaret, so his claim to love her can only have proceeded from his eagerness for the match and conventional custom. But the duplicitous Lennox was keeping his options open. Even as he was declaring his devotion to Margaret, he was still making overtures to the French faction in Scotland and pressing his suit to Marie de Guise. In a letter sent on March 7 he assured Marie that he would be loyal to her eternally,51 and on March 21 he met with her in secret.52 It would be for the last time, however, for she told him that she would never marry him.53

  Angry as he was at being rejected, Lennox was nevertheless aware that Margaret was a highly covetable substitute. Notwithstanding his pursuit of Marie de Guise, Thomas Bishop had “made suit” to Henry on Lennox’s behalf “to have in marriage the Lady Margaret.” On March 26, Henry VIII commissioned Thomas, Lord Wharton, Warden of the Marches and victor of Solway Moss, and a lawyer and soldier, Sir Robert Bowes, to treat with Lennox at Carlisle. The commissioners informed Lenn
ox and his allies that, “reputing them to be men of honour, the King will show what he desires of them and what he will do for them in return, and has devised certain articles, which if they perform (and for that purpose presently lay hostages), he will send in his army to daunt their enemies, and also do for them as hereafter expressed.”

  Henry’s terms were as follows: Lennox and his allies were to “cause the Word of God to be taught and preached” in Scotland “as the only foundation of truth”; this has been interpreted as an instruction to Lennox to turn Protestant, but the King regarded the Protestant faith as heresy, and what he intended was that Lennox and the rest should enforce the Catholic faith throughout Scotland and establish Henry himself as the head of the Scottish Church. They were forever to “remain perfect friends to the King and to England, and shall never consent to any league to the contrary, and shall renounce all leagues between France and Scotland, and all other private pacts which they may have made to the French King or other to the prejudice of England”; they were to ensure that “the young Queen is not conveyed away; and shall do their utmost to get the keeping of her and deliver her to the King until of age to be married to his son”; they were to assist Henry in gaining possession of various border towns and strongholds; and “with all their force” they were to help him to become protector of Scotland during the minority of his great-niece.

  If they agreed to these articles, and to giving hostages, Henry VIII undertook in return to send an army into Scotland “to defeat their common enemies, with charge to devastate nothing that belongs to the said earls”; to make Lennox governor of Scotland “under the King, with a council of the King’s appointment, provided he accept the King as Protector, and call no Parliament without the King’s express consent; Lennox, as Governor, shall have a reasonable portion of the revenues to maintain that estate, leaving sufficient for the entertainment of the young Queen”; and to maintain Lennox’s claim to the succession against Arran’s. If Lennox fulfilled his part of the bargain, and Mary died without issue, Henry would “aid him to obtain his title.”

  Finally—and Henry was afterward to make it clear that he was bowing to pressure from Lennox, Bishop, Glencairn and others54—Wharton and Bowes were empowered to discuss Lennox’s marriage with Margaret Douglas. They were to say that, if Lennox “should perform the said covenants” according to the King’s expectations, Henry would be “contented” for the marriage to take place. Yet he imposed a condition, unusual in royal marriage negotiations, “forasmuch as we have promised unto our niece never to cause her to marry any but whom she shall find in her own heart to love, and that, they never having one seen another, we know not how they shall like one another when they see together; and for that also, though we were never so well pleased with the matter, and they also like each other never so well, yet the thing cannot be perfected with the honour of all parties until it also be agreed on either side, both what shall be given with her, and also what she shall have again assured unto her by the said Earl for her dower.” Because Margaret and Lennox had not yet met, the “covenant cannot be easily now treated,” so Wharton and Bowes were to tell Lennox that, when he had “done some notable good service unto us, and shall, upon the sight of our niece, like her, and she again like him, we shall, upon his overture in that matter, make him such a reasonable answer as he shall have cause to be contented.”55

  On the surface it was exceptionally enlightened of Henry VIII to make such a promise to Margaret, whose hand, after all, could prove so politically advantageous to him. She had already found it “in her own heart to love” two men, and yet, fond of her as he was, he had punished her for it and made it absolutely clear that she must wholly apply herself to please him and obey his will and commandment. Had he repented of his severity since then? It should be remembered that in 1514, when marrying off his reluctant sister Mary to Louis XII of France, he had promised her that she could choose her second husband, but later erupted in wrath when she did so. Maybe he had made a similar promise to Margaret, for what it was worth—or, which seems more likely, he had done no such thing, but invented this story as a pretext for retaining the advantage over Lennox until the last possible moment.

  Henry’s invasion force was poised to march into Scotland. On April 10 he instructed its commander, the Earl of Hertford: “Put all to fire and sword, burn Edinburgh, so razed and defaced when you have sacked and gotten what ye can of it, as there may remain forever a perpetual memory of the vengeance of God lightened upon [the Scots] for their falsehood and disloyalty.”56 Hertford knew that Lennox’s position in Scotland had become precarious. “He is now brought to such a strait as I think he must needs condescend to such covenants as your Highness will appoint, for he knoweth the French King cannot trust him, and the Governor and he will never agree,” he wrote to Henry VIII on April 12.57

  On April 16, Hertford informed Henry that Thomas Bishop, now back in the north, was pressing “for the conclusion of the marriage with Lady Margaret as the knot of all the rest; wherein his master refers all conditions to the King.” Hertford had told him that the King, “as a prince of honour,” would not “promise the marriage without the consent of the parties, for which they must see each other. Bishop was not fully satisfied, but said, however, that if his master had a good ship or durst venture by land, he would come to the King, as they meant to have done and to have returned with the army into Scotland.”58 It was a most perfunctory way to refer to the celebration of a royal marriage.

  Early in May, Henry’s forces invaded Scotland by land and sea, an offensive that became known as the “Rough Wooing.” Hertford’s army was mercilessly to sack and burn scores of towns, villages and abbeys in southeastern Scotland, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake, which served only to harden the resolve of the Scots to stand firm against English bullying tactics. Angus’s lands were among those that Hertford ravaged, and that sufficed finally to turn him against the English and drive him into the arms of Arran, who was now negotiating for Queen Mary to marry the Dauphin of France. Thereafter, as lieutenant of southern Scotland, Angus would fight valiantly for the Scots against the forces of England, which left him and his daughter on opposing sides, and ultimately estranged, for Margaret was about to align herself irrevocably with English interests. For now, however, Angus tricked Henry VIII into believing that he was still willing to support him.59

  Wharton and Bowes met again with Lennox at Carlisle, where on May 17, 1544, he signed a formal alliance with Henry VIII, acceding to the English King’s terms. It was agreed that, “where Lennox has made suit to marry Lady Margaret Douglas, the King’s niece, the King’s pleasure is that, if Lennox perform the covenants according to the King’s expectation, and Lady Margaret and Lennox on seeing one the other shall agree and well like together for that purpose, he will both agree to the marriage and further consider Lennox’s good service.”60

  Lennox now led a naval expedition along the west coast of Scotland, aiming to seize strategic fortresses, kidnap Queen Mary and send her to England. It failed, and while Arran was defending Edinburgh against Hertford’s onslaughts, Lennox mustered a small fleet, put his affairs in order and, on May 28, sailed from Dumbarton for England to obtain support from King Henry and claim his bride.


  On June 7, Lennox’s ship put in at Chester, whence he rode to London, joining the court at St. James’s Palace61 on June 13. Chapuys had requested an audience with the King on that day, but thought it best to excuse himself “on account of the arrival at court of Count [sic] Lennox.”62

  At last, after nearly a year of negotiations, Margaret, now twenty-eight, came face-to-face with her bridegroom. Having no doubt heard of his reputation as one of the foremost gallant gentlemen of the Scottish court, she must have been delighted to find Matthew Stuart handsome and charming. “Being well bred in the wars of France, he excelled in ability of body and dexterity of exercise. He was of strong body, well proportionate, of lusty and manly visage, straight in stature and pleasant in
behavior, wherefore at that time he was very pleasant in the sight of gentlewomen.”63 “He was, for manly courage and other virtues, as well of body as mind, inferior to none of his time.”64

  The Royal Collection owns a full-length portrait, dating from the 1530s–40s, of a high-ranking gentleman wearing a splendid scarlet gown, doublet and hose, and a shirt with rich black-work embroidery. He stands against a mountainous landscape and cloudy blue sky. The painter is thought to have been a Netherlandish artist working in England. No one has ever successfully identified the sitter, although it has been suggested that he was Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond, or Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. But on the hilt of his sword there is a thistle, a symbol used as the emblem of Scotland since the thirteenth century, and on Scottish coins. The landscape in the background is perhaps meant to be a Scottish one, painted by an artist who had never seen Scotland. Thus it follows that the man in red was probably a Scot. His sumptuous costume, the rare (for its time) full-length outdoor pose and the quality of the painting show that he was of very high, probably noble, rank. His features compare closely to those of the older Lennox in his portrait at Hardwick Hall, notably the pointed chin, partly concealed in the latter by a sparse beard. It has been suggested that the sitter is quite young, but there is a strength and maturity in the jaw compatible with a man in his mid-twenties. Thus it is possible that this is a portrait of Lennox, painted in England to mark his marriage to Margaret.

  His good looks aside, Margaret was probably already well disposed toward Lennox, for there was a possibility that he might yet become King of Scots and place a crown on her head. And this was the marriage her mother had wanted for her many years ago. Small wonder she felt it would “banish my cares and my bliss augment.”65

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