The Story Behind Margaret Tudor's Secret Marriage

Oh, those Tudors. A few generations of English monarchs. We'd like to say they were a Dickens of a family, but that reference won't work for another couple of centuries.

However you describe them, the Tudors had their impact on the nation, the continent, and world history. Also a style of house.

Margaret Tudor was the daughter of King Henry VII and older sister of King Henry VIII. She was promised in marriage to James IV of Scotland, part of the Treaty of Perpetual Peace between England and Scotland in 1502. In 1513 James died in the Battle of Flodden, which was a contest between Scottish forces and Margaret's brother's English lads. Maybe they had a different definition in those days of "perpetual." Also, maybe, "peace."

Only one door visible in this Tudor house

So she secretly married Archibald Douglas, the Sixth Earl of Angus, which may or may not have involved cattle. The Scottish powers that were didn't approve of the match and the couple fled across the border — you know, refugees — to England. Maybe the accommodations at Harbottle Castle weren't to his liking, though that's hard to imagine, because Archie returned to Scotland to make nice with the powers that were. Margaret, for her part, went on to London, where her baby brother — Henry VIII, for those of you who weren't paying attention earlier — put her up in Scotland Yard, which may or may not have involved her solving crimes.

She returned to Scotland, only to discover her beloved Archibald in the arms of another. She wanted a divorce. Her brother, Henry VIII informed her in no uncertain terms that divorce was a big no-no. They were all Catholic in those days — Henry had yet to ask for his own divorce and start his own church and on and on — so Margaret appealed to the pope, who said yes. And we can't help but wonder if this didn't plant a seed in Henry: "How come she gets a divorce and I don't? How come Margaret gets whatever she wants? It's not fair."

Well, no, it wasn't fair, and her next marriage, to Henry Stewart, First Lord of Methven, wasn't fair, either He reportedly cheated on her, too. She tried for another divorce but the two eventually reconciled. When England's Elizabeth I, daughter of Henry VIII, died, the crown passed to Margaret's great-grandson, James VI of Scotland, who became James I of England. At least he didn't have to change the monograms on the towels.