James IV: His Wife & Four Mistresses

Chapter 1: Energy & Drive

James IV was a man of huge energy and drive. He took delight in the physical pleasures of life – music, poetry, gambling, tournaments and rich food. This enjoyment of the physical included a love of women. He was well-known for having a string of mistresses. These women were not, however, just passing fancies (although there were some of those) but were also political statements.

A mistress could rise and fall with her family and a change in the King's companion could signal a change in his policy. It seems that unmarried Scottish ladies of good birth were prepared to enter into relationships with the King, or other nobles – which was rather different from England, where such affairs would be considered disgraceful.