Margaret Tudor: Life Story

Chapter 17 : The Return of Angus

On 1st November, Angus wrote to his wife, assuring her that he meant to serve his master, the King, and her. He would be glad to meet her in person, to assure her of his loyalty. The news of his arrival was delivered to Margaret whilst she was with two of Henry’s envoys, Magnus and Ratcliff. They had just given presents to James, and assured her that Henry was determined on the marriage between their respective children, despite her threats not to send ambassadors. Margaret hastily back-tracked from her previous position, saying that her letter had been ‘an oversight’, and that she would be guided by Henry.

She continued that she would try to effect a reconciliation between Angus and Arran, although she would not ‘be familiar’ with Angus again. The Englishmen gave her more advice, saying that her keeping all of the seals, without which no state business could be transacted, in her own hands, was causing resentment and that she should increase the number of her advisors. In this, their advice was good, as it was coming to public attention that Margaret was closely attended by a young man named Henry Stewart, who kept the seals on her behalf. Stewart had also, it seemed, taken part in a raid to free Chancellor Beaton from custody.

The next day, Margaret met the English envoys again, and completely changed what she had agreed with them the day before, saying that her son would protect from Angus, who was forbidden to ride anywhere with more than forty horses and that she would make friends for herself. The envoys put this change of heart down to Stewart, to whom, they believed, Margaret had told everything about the meeting.

When Henry heard the news, he was enraged – he accused Margaret of ‘ingratitude’ and ‘wilfulness’, not without reason, from his own perspective at least. She was to be warned that unless she ‘repressed her malice’, Henry would no longer pay for the King’s guard and certainly not for the increased number Margaret had asked for.

She once again asked that Norfolk should hold Angus until at least after the forthcoming parliament. She was sure his presence there would deter many lords from attending. After it was over, she would try to come to some arrangement for the breach between them to be mended. Norfolk did as she requested, summoning Angus to him on condition that Margaret and Arran would promise to accept his own arbitration of the quarrel after the parliament was concluded.

The Estates were due to meet in mid-November. Angus was forbidden to attend. It was now apparent to the English that despite Angus’ protestations, he did not have nearly so many supporters as he had told Henry. For that reason, Margaret was to be encouraged to keep her word about sending ambassadors, and, if the Scots really wanted Angus detained, provided it would not be dishonourable to do so, Wolsey told Magnus and Ratcliff that they might hold him.

On 19th November, the Estates of Scotland appointed Margaret to ‘have the rule’ of her son, although she was not given the official office of Governor. The King’s Secret Council was to consist of the Earls of Arran and Argyll, Cardinal Beaton, and the Bishop of Aberdeen. The Earl of Cassilis and the Bishop of Dunkeld were commissioned as ambassadors to negotiate a peace with England.

A week later, Angus, together with the Earl of Lennox and others, attempted to capture Edinburgh. They claimed they were only seeking to sit in parliament, as was their right. James and Margaret were at Holyrood Palace, which, although not a fortress like Edinburgh Castle, still had some cannon. The Queen ordered the guns to be fired, and James commanded Angus and his colleagues to withdraw, which they did.

The ambassadors sent to London hoped to arrange a peace on the basis of a marriage between James and Princess Mary. If that were to be agreed, then it would be possible for Margaret to promise that Scotland would not ally with any other country. If the marriage did not take place, then no such agreement could be made, as it would seem to promote the interests of Margaret’s brother above those of her son.

Angus swiftly sought to undermine Margaret’s ambassadors, saying they were pro-French, and that Cassilis was Henry Stewart’s cousin, and so his enemy.