James IV: His Wife & Four Mistresses

Chapter 2 : First Love

James' first "official" mistress was Marion Boyd. Marion was the niece-by-marriage of Archibald "Bell-the-Cat" Douglas, 5th Earl of Angus. Angus had been involved in the rebellion that overthrew James III, but, suspect for his pro-English stance, had been side-lined by Bothwell and Hume in their initial control of James IV's government.

Archibald "Bell-the-Cat" Douglas, 5th Earl of Angus.

Angus, one of the richest and most powerful nobles in Scotland found a way around his exclusion by keeping James company at the dice and card tables. It would have been easy for him to introduce Marion to the King. The affair lasted for about three years, from 1492 to 1495, during which period Marion bore two children, Alexander Stewart and Katherine Stewart.

James acknowledged the children and Alexander was given the education of a prince, although a prince destined for the church, not the throne. Following the grant of the dispensation necessary to overcome his illegitimacy, he became a sub-deacon, and at the early age of eleven was nominated as Archbishop of St Andrews.

The Humanist, Desidirius Erasmus, who tutored James IV's illegitimate son, Alexander Stewart, Archbishop of St Andrews

This was a most inappropriate appointment and was an example of the blatant abuse of the Church for political ends that characterised the late fifteenth century but there was minimal protest and James found the revenues from the appointment came in useful for replenishing the royal coffers. Alexander's early education took place in Scotland, but when he was about fourteen, he travelled to France, the Low Countries and Italy.

It was in Padua that he studied under Desiderius Erasmus, who wrote:

"..how quick, how attentive, how eager he was!...though he was a youth scarcely eighteen years old, he excelled as much in every kind of learning as in all those qualities that we admire in a man."

Alexander perished at Flodden, with his father.

Marion Boyd's daughter, Katherine, was married to James Douglas, 3 rd Earl of Morton, and bore several children.

In 1495 Marion fell from favour. She was found a husband, John Muir of Rowallan, and James found a new mistress.