James V: French Fashions

Chapter 3 : King & Queen

On 1st January 1537, James was led in procession by Francois to the cathedral of Notre Dame, where he married Princess Madeleine. Once married James continued shopping, buying quantities of textiles and tapestries. He also received twenty fine horses from Francois, all trapped with enamelled harness. Francois gave Madeleine the run of his cloth stores, allowing her to take as much cloth-of-gold, velvet and satin for her clothes and those of her ladies-in-waiting as she liked. The young Queen also received quantities of jewels from her father.

Francois I of France (1494 - 1547), father of Princess Madeleine

Whilst in Paris, James bought two huge beds, furnished with green velvet and damask curtains and counterpanes. The fabrics had come from Genoa and Florence, and, in total there were some seventy yards of fabric used. The craftsman who made the bed hangings, one Guillaume Petit, was paid twenty crowns to up sticks with his wife and children and move to Scotland.

The young couple left for Scotland in mid-May (after a delay owing to Madeleine’s illness) and arrived on 19 th May 1537.

Once home, James was determined to recreate what he had seen in France, on both the inside and outside his palaces. He had been accompanied to France by a French mason, Moses Martin, who was already in his employ. Martin was named as master-mason not long after arrival in France. This suggests that James was planning before he left home to find out more about the latest styles in architecture. Francois’ spending on the chateaux of the Loire was no doubt famous in every court in Europe.

Falkland Palace, remodelled by James V in Renaissance style © Tudor Times 2015

Queen Madeleine, and later, James’ second wife, Marie of Guise, both received Falkland Palace and Stirling Castle as parts of their jointure and both properties received extensive make-overs, partially funded by the lavish dowries that both ladies received. (Marie’s was only two-thirds of Madeleine’s, but still a princely sum). More beautiful beds were furnished, and the King expanded his collection of tapestries.

Stirling Castle today has been renovated to show how the royal apartments looked in the 1540s, after James’ death, but still occupied by his widow, and heavily influenced by French Renaissance taste.

Reconstruction of the Royal Apartments at Stirling in the time of Marie of Guise © Tudor Times 2015
Reconstruction of the Royal Apartments - Marie of Guise's chair and arms. Note the green velvet. © Tudor Times 2015

This article is part of a Profile on James V available for Kindle, for purchase from Amazon.

Additional Sources

'French Fashion in Sixteenth-Century Scotland: The 1539 Inventory of James V’s Wardrobe' by Sally Rush
Furniture History
Vol. 42 (2006), pp. 1-25, published by: The Furniture History Society

'A Diurnal of Remarkable Occurents that have passed within the country of Scotland since the death of King James VI to the year MDLXXV' Printed: Edinburgh 1833 for the Bannatyne Club