Margaret Tudor: Life Story

Chapter 15 : Restored to Power

In May 1524, Angus, who was still detained in France, wrote to the King of England that he had heard Henry wished him to escape, and would welcome him to England. Soon after, Angus managed to break out of his not-very-onerous bondage and cross the Channel to be well received by King and Council. With Albany gone, Henry thought it would be a straightforward matter to send the pro-English Angus to Scotland to be the power behind a Regency to be led, nominally, by Margaret.

Margaret herself was absolutely adamant that such an arrangement would be counter-productive. Leaving aside her own determination never to live with Angus again, the reintroduction of the Douglases to Scotland would awaken the feud with the Hamiltons. Either she did not believe Arran’s protestations that he was prepared to let the differences between the clans be settled by arbitration, or else she wished to keep the enmity alive to make banning Angus from returning a sensible course. So determined was she that Angus should not return that she wrote to Dacre that unless he were held in England, she might have recourse once again to negotiation with Albany and France. In the meantime, her greatest ambition was to have James declared of age, although he was only twelve.   

On 26th July, the King left Stirling and was invested with the royal regalia in Edinburgh. The following day, he presided over his first Council meeting, during which it was suggested that Albany’s Governorship should be terminated. On hearing the news, Henry sent gifts to Margaret and to James, and agreed that James should have a guard of two hundred men, to be paid for by himself. Arran, too received a gift.

Shortly after, Wolsey wrote to Margaret, hinting that James might be rewarded for adherence to his uncle by a marriage ‘such as no King of Scots ever had the like’: that is, that James might be permitted to marry the Princess Mary. As it appeared by this time that Mary would be her father’s heir, James might look forward to being King of England one day. The fact that the Princess was already betrothed to the Emperor did not seem to concern Wolsey.

Henry sent commissioners to treat for a truce and a permanent peace, on condition that Albany and the French were kept well away. He was clear, however, that the overtures must appear to come from the Scots, and be put to the English Parliament before the Scots Estates could debate the matter – the implication being that the Scots would be seen as suing for peace, to be magnanimously granted by Henry.

Angus had been sent to the border, with a view to allowing him to enter the country, but Margaret was so determined that he should be kept out that eventually Henry told Norfolk, who was acting as his chief commissioner, to send Angus back to London, on the pretext of needing him to meet with Henry and his Council. Henry realised the determination of Margaret in this matter, and that, if provoked, she could yet turn to France.

On 20th August 1524, the Estates formally ended the Governorship of Albany and James was now to be obeyed on his own authority. The only exceptions were Chancellor Beaton and the Bishop of Aberdeen, who were shortly thereafter imprisoned.

Contrary to what Henry might have supposed, the Estates did not come to him cap in hand. Instead, their terms for peace were that James should be married to Mary and named as ‘second person in the realm' (of England) and be granted English estates suitable to that rank. If Mary were supplanted by a son, James would receive compensation in the form of the disputed territories around Berwick.

Margaret wrote Henry an update, and included various suggestions for sweeteners for Arran and others. She also complained that Dacre was undermining her position by saying to the Scots that ‘he wondered they let any woman have authority, especially her. She thanks him for cash already received, and confirms that she has control of the all the official positions.’