James IV died at Flodden, his son, James V, was just 17 months
old when he was crowned. By the Will of James IV, his wife,
Margaret Tudor was to be the Regent so long as she remained
unwed. Margaret had remarried in 1514 to Archibald Douglas,
the 6th Earl of Angus. Angus took control over the boy king
and the realm until James V was old enough to run him out
of Scotland. He was an oppressive man and not loved by James
V. The Scottish nobles gave the governorship to John Stuart,
the Duke of Albany who had traveled from France. He was very
much opposed by Margaret Tudor. However, to his credit he
made no effort to supplant young James V and tried to preserve
order. He expelled Margaret Tudor who could no longer be considered
Regent since she had remarried. When he returned to France
in 1522, Henry VIII sent troops to burn and plunder the Borders.
Albany returned with French troops and drove the English out
but returned again to France and fighting broke out among
the Scottish nobles.
James IV's mother, his step-father, the Duke of Albany, and
finally a group of nobles ruled Scotland for him. He was virtually
a prisoner of his step-father until he was 14 years old. The
Douglases used their power for personal profit for themselves
and their friends and kept James V at Falkland Palace until
he finally escaped and rode all night, disguised as a groom,
to Stirling Castle. Thus, at age 17 he began his rule.
The first thing he did as king was
to avenge himself against the Douglases for his confinement.
He confiscated their lands, took away all their powers,
and declared them to be outlaws. He executed the Master
of Forbes, a brother-in-law of Angus, and burned his sister,
Lady Glamis, on the Castle Hill of Edinburgh on a charge
of witchcraft. He was then ready to gain control over his
As a note of interest, his mother and
the Earl of Angus had a child, named Margaret. Lord Darnley
was the son of this Margaret. James V's mother, Margaret,
divorced Angus in 1526 and married Henry Stuart (Lord Methven).
James started with the Borders, where
once again there was conflict, along with the Highlands
and the Western Isles. The Armstrongs were a powerful Border
clan who had burned many (52) churches in Scotland and plundered
wealth from English nobles who lived south of the Borders.
James V was determined to make an example of the Armstrongs
and their lawlessness and led an army of men to conquer
them. He put to death all the Armstrongs who had rebelled
against him. He executed reivers whose fates are immortalized
in the Border Ballads and imprisoned, although only for
a time, Bothwell, Home, Maxwell and Johnston.
Next came the Highlands where he executed
more troublesome clan leaders. He restored order by doing
this and by befriending the rest of the chiefs, but he had
alienated some of his best fighting men.
The Court of Sessions in Edinburgh
was established by James V. This has endured as the seat
of Scottish law to the present day. The Council and Session
had already existed, but he reorganized the court. He made
it more effective by using professional judges, who were
James V was suspicious of the nobility
but had much sympathy for his subjects. Sometimes he went
about among the people incognito, which his daughter adopted
but with less success. He was sometimes called the poor
man's king because he would travel the countryside disguised
as a poor farmer. The people were grateful for his restoring
peace to the land.
He had ability and personal charm but
he was fortunate. He had the unhesitating support of the
Church. The Church, fearful that James would follow the
example of his uncle, Henry, for Reformation, denied him
nothing. His was fortunate in foreign affairs also. England
and France were allied for a while because France needed
English help and Henry needed French support for his divorce
of Catherine of Aragon. Thus, because of Scotland's alliance
with France, James V was courted by both countries (for
He was sought after for marriage alliances.
He almost married Catherine de Medici by arrangements obtained
through Albany but this didn't come about. He went to France
to marry Marie de Bourbon, but found after he arrived that
he preferred Madeleine, the third daughter of the French
King. They were married at Notre Dame with great ceremony.
Unfortunately, she died within six months of the marriage
of what could possibly have been tuberculosis. She was well
like in Scotland, having knelt upon her arrival and kissed
Scottish soil, and upon her death, public mourning was worn
in Scotland for the first time. I take this means some sort
of armband or such to commemorate her death. A year after
her death, he married his second wife, Mary of Guise, the
mother of Mary Queen of Scots. This was a second marriage
for Mary of Guise, and by choosing her, James declared his
alliance to France and not to England. Henry the VIII was
furious because Mary had been on his list of women. Lucky
for her that she married James first before Henry VIII could
command a marriage to him. A story is told that Henry VIII
declared that he was big in person and needed a big wife.
Mary cannily replied that through her stature was large,
her neck was little. James and Mary of Guise had two sons
but they died in infancy before Mary, Queen of Scot's birth
at Linlithgow Palace.
He supported France against Henry VIII.
Protestant England and Catholic Scotland fought at the battle
of Solway Moss in 1542. The news that his army had been
defeated destroyed the health of the king. His daughter,
Mary, was born a week before his death. The king said, "It
came with a lass (Marjorie Bruce), it will pass with a lass."
James was gifted in many ways, but he lacked persistence
and calculation to be a great King. When he was on a prosperous
course, he did well, but when things turned against him,
he did not hold up. His death presented Henry VIII with
an opportunity which he had long sought. The baby girl who
was now the ruler of Scotland had for her nearest male kinsman
the King of England (her great-uncle). He had a son of marriageable
age and the little Queen was betrothed to the Prince of
Wales. History had repeated itself. On the death of Alexander
III, the nearest male kinsman of the Maid of Norway had
been Edward I, Longshanks, who had a marriageable son and
who knew how to exploit such a situation. Henry overplayed
his hand acting as if he were already king of Scotland.
The Scottish reaction was prompt. The Scottish Parliament
denounced a treaty with England (the Greenwich Treaties).
Henry then loosed his troops upon Scotland with instructions
to kill, burn and spoil. English aggression thus drove Scotland
to ally with France once again.
Article Submitted By Neil Ritchie