The Thistle and the Rose

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Published: Apollo on
Format: Hardback and Kindle
ISBN: 978-1801105781

Margaret, the first Tudor princess and queen consort and queen regent of Scotland, is the forgotten Tudor. Yet the elder sister of Henry VIII led a life of great drama, composed in equal parts of privilege and pain, highlighted by personal danger, hardship and loss. Overlooked or dismissed by historians as 'Henry VIII in a dress' (not, in itself, necessarily an insult), Margaret has been ill-served by superficial biographies or heavy-handed academic attempts to paint her as an early feminist prototype. Yet recent research has revealed a quite different woman from the popular image of an oversexed whinger, whose main interests were her wardrobe and attractive young men. The child-woman who, at the age of thirteen, married James IV of Scotland, one of the most charismatic of all British kings, became a successful queen consort, presiding over a colourful and cultured court at some of Scotland's most beautiful palaces. James' death at the disastrous battle of Flodden in 1513 transformed Margaret's world, forcing her to make stark choices for which she has been roundly condemned. But her two spells as regent for her young son, James V, and her determination to manage the fractious relationship between England and Scotland, reveal a true dynast with considerable diplomatic skills, as well as a loving mother committed to the welfare of her son amidst the swirling currents of Scottish politics and family feuds. The Thistle and the Rose reveals a woman who was a gifted politician and diplomatist. It will tell a story of sibling rivalry between Margaret and her brother, Henry VIII, going back to their childhoods, underlined by Henry's ambivalent attitude to his sister's welfare and his refusal to acknowledge her son, the nearest male to him in blood until 1537, as his heir. It will also explore Margaret's disastrous second marriage to Archibald Douglas, earl of Angus, and her third, little-known marriage to Henry Stewart. Her desperate flight to England while heavily pregnant in 1515 and her year-long reunion with her brother and sister, Mary, will also receive the attention they deserve, as will her relationships with her wayward daughter, Margaret Douglas, and her son's two French wives. Margaret's tragedy is that of a mother whose affection was not returned by her children and who has been belittled by history. Her triumph, on the other hand, is that of a true Tudor who had made a significant contribution to the culture and politics of her time.

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