An introduction to one of the Tudor family’s least-known women.
Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry VII, was married to James IV of Scotland and bore his son, James V. Her second husband, Archibald Douglas, fathered her daughter, also named Margaret. She is the subject of Ring’s dramatic history of 16th-century England, a tempestuous period that has been the subject of many books—for good reason. Henry VII’s claims to the throne were based on distant family connections, and they fought back many usurpers. That fragile hold on the throne would continue throughout the family’s history; save the short reign of Edward VI. For decades, the Tudors fought to control the country’s religion, alternating from Catholic to Protestant to Elizabeth’s acceptance of the “private devotions” of Catholics. Even Elizabeth changed after the Catholic “Northern Rebellion” and the pope’s bull excommunicating her. As the Tudors worried about succession, young Margaret Douglas should always have been a factor—and she was, until a fight with her uncle, King Henry VIII, at the end of his life saw her removed from the succession. Margaret was also the half sister of the Scottish king, James V, and married to Matthew Stewart, the Scottish Earl of Lennox. Margaret was born into this political intrigue, and her life is a perfect example of Tudor machinations. Though she bore eight children in one of the happiest marriages in the Tudor dynasty, only two sons survived. One of them, Henry Darnley, was the object of their ambition, and his son would one day become James VI. Ring ably shows Margaret’s adaptation to religious mores and to the caprices of kings and queens, though she is less successful in that perpetual stumbling block of books about English history: connecting names, titles, and relationships.
A wealth of correspondence and a strong knowledge of the period combine in a capable book showing life at these strange medieval courts.