The latest installment of Gregory's Tudor Court series fleshes out the sparse documentation on Queen Margaret of Scotland.
This narrative of three queens is told strictly from the perspective, often acerbic, often envious, of only one: Margaret Tudor, who became Queen of Scots when she married, by long planned arrangement, King James of Scotland in 1502. From the age of 12, Margaret delights or sometimes torments herself by making invidious comparisons between herself, her younger sister, Mary, and her sister-in-law Katherine of Aragon, dubbed “Arrogant” by Margaret. As the oldest child of Henry VII, the invading Tudor who deposed Richard III, Margaret has a cynical perspective on her siblings. Arthur, firstborn son, was raised to be king, while Henry, second son, was indulged and spoiled (which, Margaret implies, will have disastrous consequences later). After Arthur dies unexpectedly in Wales, Katherine returns to court and, for a time, much to Margaret’s barely suppressed glee, is in financial limbo while her marriage to the new heir, Harry, is negotiated. Once married to James, Margaret quickly supplies a crown prince. But King Henry’s decision to invade France, Scotland’s ally, subverts the Perpetual Peace Margaret’s nuptials were intended to cement. James is forced to invade England’s border shires, and an army, commanded by Katherine, does battle with the Scots, kills James, and brings back his body as a trophy as well as his bloodied coat, which Katherine sends to Henry as proof of her military prowess. This not only outrages Margaret, but profoundly destabilizes her position. The young widow makes the strategic error of marrying her former meat carver, a charming but false-hearted earl, Archibald. The fractious Scots lairds and their French handlers exile Margaret, taking charge of her two sons. There follows a series of unfortunate, or fortunate, events, depending on how they advance or undermine Margaret’s status, not to mention her right to precede her sister and sister-in-law into the dining hall.
Gregory’s take on the (largely male-determined) fortunes of three Tudor women is venal, petty, and jaundiced but never dull.