The Tudor Society

13 November 1537 – Margaret Tudor writes to Henry VIII

On this day in history, Margaret Tudor, the former Queen of Scotland, wrote a letter to her brother, Henry VIII.

The following letter is one of a collection of letters written by Margaret to Henry in the 1530s. Margaret was desperately unhappy. She had married her third husband, Henry Stewart, 1st Lord Methven, in 1528, and was intent on divorcing him because not only did he have a mistress, he was also spending and wasting Margaret's money. Margaret's own son, James V of Scotland, was siding with Methven and Methven had control of Margaret's lands and money, so Margaret wanted her brother's support and help:

"Rejoices that he has a prince. Hopes he is informed both by her own writings sent with the herald Master Svallo and the information sent to Sir Tomas Qwarton, how she is treated. Trusts Henry will not let her be wronged daily. Would sooner be dead than remain in such trouble as she has been in since Master Sadler's departure. Desires only to "brwk" her lands given her by the King her father and confirmed by the three estates of this realm; of which she is only debarred by lord Meffen. Has her sentence of divorce ready to be pronounced written and concluded with forty "famos prewes" (proofs), but the King her son supports Meffen, as her husband, in possession of her lands. When she passed to her land the forest of Ettrick the King her son accused her of intending to marry "him that was earl of Angus," which Henry knows she had never a mind to do. Her son will only let her "depart bed and bwred," which is unjust, and fears she will pass into England. Trusts Henry will for his own honor refuse redress on the Borders till she has her due. Is now 49 years old and should not travel like a poor gentlewoman, following her son from place to place as she has done for 20 weeks past."

Unfortunately for Margaret, her brother was reluctant to help and, as her biographer Richard Glen Eaves notes, he would not invite her to England "and in her last years practically ignored her."

Margaret died just under four years later, on 18th October 1541 at Methven Castle, after suffering a stroke. It seems a sad end to a former Queen of Scotland.

Notes and Sources

  • Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 12 Part 2, 1079.
  • Eaves, Richard Glen. “Margaret (1489–1541).” Richard Glen Eaves In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online ed., edited by David Cannadine. Oxford: OUP, 2004.

There are 4 comments Go To Comment

  1. T

    Wow, this is so sad. why didn’t King henry help his sister?

    1. C - Post Author

      I’m not entirely sure. I don’t know whether he’d got irritated with her, whether it was to do with him not wanting to upset the King of Scotland, or whether he was just too busy with his own life and England’s problems, perhaps a combination.

      1. T

        Thank you Claire

  2. R

    This is sad for a woman who did as she wished for much of her adult life. I have read a letter in an old biography and Henry was very disapproving of Margaret’s divorce and marriage adventures which may be why he didn’t help her at the end. If he really felt like this, then it’s very hypocritical considering his own divorces and he was on wife no three at the time.

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13 November 1537 – Margaret Tudor writes to Henry VIII