Royal Splendour

Chapter 8 : Wedding & Coronation

The next day, 8th August 1503, was Margaret’s wedding day.

Between eight and nine o’clock, all of the court was dressed and ready – in velvet, satin and tinsel, crimson, black and gold with great quantities of jewels. Surrey, Latimer, Grey, Dacre and Scrope were in their finest clothes. Surrey and Sir Richard Pole were sporting their Garter collars and many of the others had chains of gold.

They entered James’ chamber, where he greeted them affably, with his hat in his hand, and requested them to sit on a bench, and gave them permission to replace their hats. The clergy were led by the Archbishop of St Andrew’s, the Scottish Primate, and the proceedings were watched by the respective Heralds, dressed in their tabards. A short speech or ‘proposition’ was made by Dr Rawlins, and answered by Dr Moreched. Then all of the Lords, led by the Archbishop, went to Margaret’s chamber.

She emerged, dressed in white damask with a border and lining of crimson velvet and a gold and pearl coronet on her head, over a fine coif, which covered her loose hair. She was led forward by the Archbishop and Surrey, with Surrey’s countess bearing her train. She was followed, two-by-two, by the English and Scottish ladies.

At the altar, she was met by James, who had been led in by the Archbishop of St Andrew’s. He was also in white damask, but his gown was lined with sarcenet and figured with gold. He had a jacket of crimson satin and black velvet, a shirt embroidered with gold thread and hose of scarlet. On his head was a black velvet bonnet with a large ruby, and a sword hung by his side.

The papal dispensation for the marriage was read (they were related through James’ Beaufort great-grandmother) and the ceremony was finally carried out by the Archbishops of Glasgow and York.

Now married, King and Queen knelt on gold cushions at the high altar – again he let her kneel first. They then withdrew to their individual traverses (his draped with red and blue velvet, hers with black velvet). They heard Mass, then Margaret was anointed as Queen of Scots, and James put a sceptre into her hand.

The company left the Abbey in order of rank – James and Margaret hand-in-hand. He took her back to her chamber, and retired to his own. After resting, they dined in state, with Margaret, under a gold cloth-of-state being served first.  The meal consisted of twelve courses, the first of which included a gilded boar’s head. James sat at a separate table, with the Earl of Surrey, the Archbishops of York and St Andrew’s and the Bishop of Durham. To show Margaret all honour, the King did not sit under the cloth-of-state, but let her preside in majesty.

After the meal, the heralds cried largesse – that is, calling out the titles of the King and distributing money. As there were only three English heralds present, James would only allow three callings of largesse by his own. The first, and senior, Scots herald, Marchmont Herald, cried out:

'To the high and mighty Princess Margaret, by the Grace of God, Queen of Scotland and first daughter engendered of the very high and very mighty Prince Henry VII, by that same self grace, King of England'. 

The largesse consisted of forty crowns of gold. It was called three times, in the King’s Chamber, the Great Chamber and the Hall. Again allowing Margaret to have the limelight, no largesse was called for James.

In the neighbouring chambers, the vast company all dined, admiring the tapestries which showed scenes from the city of Troy, and the new windows with the arms of England and Scotland.

King and Queen went to church again, then dined. In a final gesture for the day, James sent his robe to the English heralds as a gift, and dressed in a gown of black velvet, furred with martens.

Finally, the royal couple retired to bed together. Margaret was now Queen of Scots in fact as well as name.