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James V / Kings and Queens

  • Name  : James V
  • Born  : 1512
  • Died  : 1542
  • Category  : Kings and Queens
  • Finest Moment : Completion of Falkland Palace

Another sorry monarch. James V was the elder and only surviving son of James III and Margaret Tudor, succeeding his father when a tender 17 months old. For the first15 years of his life, he was accordingly shuffled about while a series of nobles governed the country. A virtual prisoner of Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus, who was his stepfather, this left him with a hatred not only for the Douglas family, but for many nobles in general. Not a good start for a monarch in those days.

During his minority, careless and even incompetent financial management had all but bankrupted Scotland. Unfortunately, James V was personally greedy, so the stage was set for power games involving the Pope, the French, Henry VIII of England, and of course our James.

James V was pro-Catholic and Pro-French. He firstly extracted money from the Church by committing himself to the Catholic Church. He now looked for a wife with a large dowry, settling for Princess Madeleine, daughter of Francis I. She was frail, and died six months later, so James remarried, this time to Mary of Guise, and her dowry naturally.

James V further worsened the gap between himself and his nobles, by appointing his own agents to rule the far off corners of Scotland. He also targeted various families in the Borders, notably Armstrong, Hepburn, Home, Maxwell and Scott. These particular roosters would come home eventually, refusing to support James V in times of conflict.

Henry VIII meanwhile, looking over his own shoulder towards Europe, asked James for a meeting. The Scottish clergy would not allow James to attend, and Henry invaded Scotland. The two countries eventually settled at the Battle of Solway Moss, in November 1542. The Scots were in disarray and being unsupported by many Protestant nobles were easily defeated. James retired first to Linlithgow then Falkland Palace. He was acutely depressed and in a state of collapse. Six days after the birth of his daughter Mary, he died. It was 14 December 1542, and he was 30 years old.

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