The Tragic Truth Of Margaret Tudor's Marriage History

The 16th century was a tumultuous era for royal marriages in the British Isles. While King Henry VIII's infamous series of unhappy couplings often gets the lion's share of the spotlight, he wasn't the only Tudor who was getting into matrimonial trouble. Although she never had any of her husband's beheaded, his sister, Margaret Tudor, had quite the track record of her own when it came to scandal at the altar.

Margaret was born in 1489, a time when Western Europe, and especially England, were in a state of political tumult. As the daughter of the King of England, she was viewed as a valuable tool to help secure political alliances. Because of this her first marriage occurred when she was just 12 years old. This was to King James IV of Scotland, who was fifteen years her senior, and who was not even present at the ceremony, instead employing a proxy to declare his vows to his child bride. The marriage coincided with a "Treaty of Perpetual Peace" between England and Scotland (spoiler alert: it wasn't actually perpetual).

James was known to spoil his queen with fine dresses and jewels. He died in 1513, leaving behind an heir to the Scottish throne in the form of his only surviving child with Margaret, James V. But the younger James was an infant, so Margaret stepped in as regent for her young son and ruled Scotland in his name. But more marriages would soon throw a royal scepter in the works.

Future marriages

There were several attempts to marry the widowed Queen Margaret off to other royal families, but when none of them panned out she went rogue and wed Archibald Douglas, the Earl of Angus. This marriage ended her tenure as regent and put her in political hot water. Fearing retaliation from the new regent for the Scottish King, John Stewart, the Duke of Albany, she fled back to England with the help of her brother, now King Henry VIII.

Even though she'd risked it all to marry Angus the marriage wasn't meant to be. Her husband took up with another woman and gave Margaret the political and personal cold shoulder. Being the Tudor that she was, Margaret didn't exactly take that lying down. She turned to her former political rival, the Duke of Albany, and conspired with him to wrest whatever political power Angus had amassed from his hands.

After her coup Margaret divorced Angus and returned to the Scottish royal court. She also returned to the chaotic life of royal marriages when she tied the knot with Henry Stewart, who proved to be no better a husband than any of the rest. More political turmoil and an affair followed their marriage, and Margaret petitioned her son, now ruling Scotland by himself, for a divorce. He was reluctant to grant it, however, and Margaret Tudor died in 1541 before she could maneuver her way out of yet another sticky situation.