Porter (Katherine the Queen: The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr, the Last Wife of Henry VIII, 2010) again draws from her exhaustive knowledge of 16th-century British history to explain the strong ties that eventually united Scotland and England.
The squabble between Mary Queen of Scots and Queen Elizabeth had deep roots and a long history. Beginning with the ascent of Henry VII in 1485 and the start of the Tudor dynasty, the author explains the many threats against his reign, including imposters, uprisings and constant border skirmishes. In the most important royal marriage of the century, Henry sent his daughter, Margaret, to marry the future James IV, the first step toward union. Margaret was second in line to the English throne, after her brother, Henry VIII, who also wished to impair the “Auld Alliance between France and Scotland.” Porter clearly shows the ways in which Scotland was used by the English and French against each other, always at the expense of the Scots. James died at Flodden in 1513 in a diversionary attack intended to draw the English away from their attack on France. By that time, Henry VIII reigned and was bent on recovering England’s territories in France. Regents ruled for James V until he wed Mary of Guise in 1538. That union produced Mary Queen of Scots, widowed Dauphine of France who, at age 24, was a deposed queen facing 19 years of imprisonment. Her son united Scotland and England in 1603.
A wonderfully thorough history of the Scots that thankfully avoids dwelling on stories that have been explored countless times before—especially fitting now as Scotland decides whether to withdraw from the union with England.