Margaret Tudor: Life Story

Chapter 16 : Negotiations with England

Despite all of Margaret’s letters, the English government did not entirely trust that she would not defect to Albany. The plan was to induce her to accept Angus’ return, believing that he was so popular that if she did try to resurrect the French alliance, Angus could be used as a counterweight. Norfolk sent her a letter, the tone of which was hardly respectful to a queen, in which he told her that she ought to be reconciled to her husband for the sake of the kingdom, especially as Angus had promised not to molest her lands,  or do anything but live quietly. Unless Margaret could prove that Angus was conspiring with the French, Henry would have no reason to detain him further.

Within weeks, Margaret had antagonised the Scots Lords. Rather than permitting Chancellor Beaton to retire on a pension, she was considering sending him to England, where he would be likely to receive short shrift as an ally of Albany. The Earls of Lennox, Glencairn and Argyll had withdrawn from court and there was widespread murmuring at the idea of exiling a Scotsman to England, even if he had displeased his sovereign.

Margaret was between a rock and a hard place. If she did not send Beaton to England, Norfolk made it clear that Angus would be allowed to return. If she did send him, she might face open rebellion.

Angus was not immediately allowed to return – the English were weighing up the risks. Which of the two was most likely to seek a rapprochement with Albany, if thwarted, Margaret or Angus? In the event, it was decided that Angus was more reliable, so a contract was entered into with him to promote English interests, although he did except his duty to his own sovereign. He would seek reconciliation with Margaret and not come to the Scots court until he had achieved it.

Margaret got wind of the agreement and again wrote to Wolsey, urging him to persuade Henry not to send Angus back. She went so far as to say that she would prevent the departure of the Scottish Ambassadors who were supposed to be going to London to discuss peace terms. This was tantamount to saying that a French alliance would again be sought, if she were thwarted. Throughout her letters, Margaret insisted that Arran’s objection to the return of Angus was as strong as her own, whilst Henry’s advisors were sure that Arran would make peace, if left to himself.

On 23rd October, there were further scuffles in Edinburgh. Some of the Douglas men killed Lord Fleming and took his son prisoner, whilst the Earl of Lennox, who was feuding with Arran, tried to capture him at Holyrood House and take control of Margaret and James. He was thwarted by one of the King’s servants raising the alarm.

By the end of that month, Wolsey sent letters to Margaret taking a much less conciliatory tone than previously. He pointed out that Henry had only intervened in Scotland for the sake of Margaret and James, and that, again for his nephew’s sake, the English King was promoting unity through a rapprochement between Margaret, Arran and Angus. Henry himself derived no benefit from peace-making in Scotland, so Margaret ought to be showing gratitude, rather than threatening to consort with France. He would confirm a marriage between James and Princess Mary, but expected Margaret to bring James up to favour England. Finally, if the promised ambassadors were not sent, Henry would consider it to be a breach of the truce and would feel free to renew the war.

Shortly after, Angus was permitted to cross the border, with the advice to keep a low profile until it could be determined whether Margaret might relent once he was actually there.