8th August, 1503: The Rose and the Thistle

On 8th August, 1503, Henry VII’s eldest child, Margaret Tudor, married James IV of Scotland – uniting the quarrelling nations of England and Scotland for all of about five minutes, (I say ‘five minutes’, I actually mean ‘ten years’, but still…)

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The decision that the thirty year old Scottish King would marry the fourteen year old Tudor princess came about in 1495, after a bit of a shit storm, and a genius tactical play by the Scottish King.

In 1495 Henry VII had been ruling for a few years; however there were still people who thought his claim to the throne was dubious to say the least, and wanted him gone. This led to a couple of people pretending to be Richard Plantagenet, the Duke of York, one of the ‘Princes in the Tower’. If it was found that the Princes were still alive, Henry’s claim to the throne wouldn’t be worth shit, and all that he had fought for would be thrown into question, and the country plunged back into civil war. Queue Perkin Warbeck.

Perkin was a pretender to the throne of England, claiming he was Richard, Duke of York. His claim was supported by Henry’s enemies, especially those in France, Ireland and Scotland, where Henry was hated the most, so when Perkin arrived in Scotland seeking help, King James was only too happy to oblige. James saw it as an opportunity to dangle a threat of uncertainty over the English, so kept Perkin close, gave him a salary of £1200 per annum and married him to Catherine Gordon, the daughter of a noble courtier. James was nobody’s fool, he was one of the brightest Kings in history; I don’t really believe that James thought that Perkin was who he claimed to be, but he was a handy man to have around.

Now that James had a trump card in his pocket, Henry shit himself and decided it might be a good idea to form an alliance with Scotland, by betrothing his then six year old daughter to the Scottish King, and approached the King with the suggestion.  Eventually Perkin used his income to invade England… but fucked it up, like a massive tit, and was finally captured by Henry VII – but the betrothal continued none-the-less. What harm could it do to keep your enemies close? Both kings saw the potential of the marriage, and both had their eyes on the greater prize of picking up another country through any heirs produced.

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Perkin Warbeck: Gobshite

On 24th January, 1502, both James and Henry agreed to sign a contract to confirm that they wouldn’t try and dick each other over anymore, and so the catchily-titled ‘Treaty of Perpetual Peace’ was created… ‘perpetual’ meaning ‘until you piss me off’ in this case. On the same day, after waiting ages for the Pope to decide if the couple were indeed not so incestuously-related that they would produce gompy, inbred heirs, (James and Margaret were distant cousins), the two kings also confirmed that James would marry Margaret in order to cement the friendship, (I use the term ‘friendship’ loosely here), so the plans for a wedding were drawn up.

On 25th January, 1503 Margaret was married by proxy to James IV at Richmond palace. Proxy weddings weren’t unusual at this time, but I don’t believe for one minute that people didn’t find them hysterical and ridiculous even then. Margaret’s proxy marriage basically meant that she had the usual customary wedding ceremony, but with one of James’ pal’s, a bloke called  Patrick Earl of Bothwell, standing in as the groom because James couldn’t make it, while everyone else stands like gormless idiots, pretends this is a normal thing to do, and definitely not fucked up in the slightest. In fact, proxy marriages were so stupid that when Mary Tudor, Henry VII’s other daughter, married the King of France by proxy years later, she had to ‘consummate’ her marriage by touching naked ankles with the pseudo-groom, though Margaret was spared this fucking ridiculous spectacle.

The proxy marriage was treated as a real marriage, and Margaret was known as Queen of Scotland from that day one, a fact that pissed off Margaret’s younger brother, The Prince Henry (later to be Henry VIII), as it now meant that she had greater titles and wealth than him and consequently received greater privileges at court, like being announced first at dinner, and sitting in a higher position to him. The fat little shit hated not being centre of attention, and outshined by his sister, and had to be warned to rein it in by his parents.

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Prince Henry as a pube haired, spoiled brat of a child, with cold, dead eyes; ruining his sisters weird, groomless wedding with his sour fucking temper, like a little moonfaced shithouse.

The ceremony itself was followed by an enormous banquet and several days of celebrations, including jousting, dancing and pageantry. Margaret, although only fourteen, was the life and soul of the court. She rocked being a princess, she loved to dance and play music, and was fucking obsessed with fine clothes. Both Margaret and the Earl wore cloth of gold to the ceremony, and she was given a new wardrobe to match her new status.

Due to her young age, Margaret wasn’t allowed to travel to Scotland to meet James for the best part of a year. Her Grandmother, Margaret Beaufort, had been forced to marry a man when she was twelve, and was so completely and utterly fucked up by her own experienced of marriage and child birth at such a young age, that she advised against a proper shagging consummation until Margaret was a little older.

Margaret set off for Scotland in June 1503, with a 30000 gold noble dowry; chaperoned by the Earl of Surrey and his wife, and a procession of well-dressed courtiers. Her carriage was kitted out in blue velvet and cloth of gold, and draped in bear skin. Margaret eventually arrived in Scotland on 1st August after three weeks of travelling, and was greeted by the Scottish Lords and the Archbishops of Glasgow, before being escorted to Dalkeith Castle, where she met James IV for the first time, (there had been a stable fire which had killed some of Margaret’s horses, so James had come to console his new wife like a proper sweetheart).

On 7th August, James and Margaret rode into Edinburgh, and Margaret was introduced to the people as their new Queen. Despite hating the English, the people of Scotland were made up to meet their new Queen. James was now thirty and despite being a complete womaniser, had never shown any signs of wanting to marry, which caused uncertainty as to who would inherit the throne upon his death. Now that worry was over, though this may also have something to do with the shit-tonne of wine that James supplied to the city in honour of his wife’s arrival.

James IV & Margaret Tudor-marriage procession

Margaret and James’ wedding procession through the streets of Edinburgh.

Both James and Margaret upped their spouse game by wearing matching outfits of cloth of gold trimmed with black fur, and trotting into the city ahead of a train of horsemen, trumpeters, minstrels and dancers. James kept his arm around his young bride’s waist for most of the day and Edinburgh was in its element. The next day the pair had a proper ceremony at Holyrood Castle to officiate their marriage. Once again, they wore matching ‘his and hers’ outfits, both made from white damask with crimson trimmings, and James, who was known for having the best beard in the kingdom, shaved it off for the event, as Margaret wasn’t a fan and he wanted to win her over big time.

The celebrations went on and on. James had spent a quarter of his annual living allowance on wine for the wedding and was desperate to show the visiting English nobles how rich the Scottish were. The English tried to pass it off as if it was nothing, but were obviously secretly impressed. James’ court was the place to be, and James was one fucking amazing King.

James IV became King after his father was murdered by a man pretending to be a priest as he fled from battle. James was then brought up by and groomed to be King by the very men who had defeated his father. He lived with this guilt all his life, and wore an iron chain around his waist at lent as penance for his dad’s death.

James was incredibly intellectual, and very generous. He spoke fluently in seven languages, including Celtic and had travelled far and wide. He met regularly with his people (including the Celts), and was a much loved King. In those times it was almost expected that kings would have mistresses, and James was no exception, only James seemed to treat his mistresses better than most monarchs, and seemingly never did the dirty on them. He was a womaniser, there is no doubt, but the women who were taken as mistresses by him were treated as queens, and of the several bastard children he had by these women, all were acknowledged and raised as princes and princesses, accessing the best education money could buy.

Shortly after arriving in Scotland, James took Margaret on a tour of his country, there she met all of his children who were being raised and taught together as a family and children of the king. Margaret wrote to her father to tell him about her time with James and commended him being such a fucking good Dad to his illegitimate kids, and whilst initially Margaret told her family that she was homesick, over time the couple came to love each other greatly.

However, Margaret Tudor was not the great love of James’ life. Prior to marrying her, James took a mistress, also called Margaret just to cause confusion, and apparently married her in secret. The problem was, or so the theories go, that James wouldn’t agree to his marriage with Margaret Tudor because of his love for Margaret Drummond, his favourite mistress. The Pro-English noblemen of the Scottish court apparently were having none of this shit, after all a king should marry a princess and stop pretending a mistress in anything more than a bit of fanny, and so decided to bump off Margaret Drummond in order to clear the way for James to marry the Tudor princess.

Margaret Drummond was poisoned at breakfast, along with her two sisters, in 1501 and died. She was given a tomb bestowing a queen and James mourned her death greatly. A few years later, Margaret Tudor wrote of the incident in letters to her family, condemning the Scottish nobles for their actions. Although Margaret eventually came to enjoy the Scottish court she could never really get her head around the women being so outspoken and liberal, but in spite of this her love for the Scottish people grew all the same.

Since James was the biggest Romeo around, he was well practiced in keeping women happy, and knew exactly what to do to make sure he won Margaret’s heart. He was known country wide for his warmth and generosity, he kept taxes low, spent cash when it needed to be spent and bought shit-hot gifts when they needed to be bought. For Margaret this must have been a bit of a change, as her Dad was a known tight arse and didn’t part with a penny unnecessarily. James lavished Margaret with the finest gifts*, and she was every bit the Scottish Queen he had made her. The pair had six children, though sadly only one that lived through infancy, a boy they called James after his father. Aside from the loss of their children the couple were very affectionate and loving and had ten years of happy marriage.

 

NPG D23905; King James IV of Scotland probably by Isaac Taylor

James Iv: Pulling out all the smooth moves on Madge.

In 1509, Margaret’s father, Henry VII, died and her brother Henry VIII came to power. In true Henry VIII style, he went into his reign like a bull in a china shop and decided that in 1513 he would go and cause some shit in France, after all it had been quiet for a while and the French were only a stone’s throw away over the Chanel. This proved to be a problem for James IV, he had a sworn allegiance with France and now his cock-end brother-in-law had decided to go lay waste to them. James decided that there was only one course of action to take: to break the treaty of Perpetual Peace and invade England whilst Henry was away.

There was one thing that James hadn’t banked on though, and that was the fact that Henry had left his wife, the total BAMF and uber heroine, Queen Katherine of Aragon, in charge. Katherine wasn’t having her sister-in-laws hubby invade on her watch and sent her army to lay waste to James, and that’s exactly what they did.

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Katherine of Aragon looking like butter wouldn’t melt. Well let me tell you, butter very much does melt…

James was killed at Flodden by the troops of the Earl of Surrey, the very man who had brought his Wife to him ten years earlier. His body was sent to Katherine of Aragon as proof of his death, who, like a total bad-ass then decided to send his blood stained clothes to Henry in France to use as a war banner, and not so subtle message, to the French.

Sword and Dagger of James IV, and Two Knights' Banners, used at the Battle of Flodden Field

Margaret was gutted at James’ death, and understandably fucked off with her brother, but then all is fair in love and war, and Margaret had to dust herself off and act as regent to their seventeen month old son, the new King of Scotland, James V. Margaret wasn’t even allowed to bury her husband, as her sister-in-law had his body. Ordinarily he would have been buried in a royal grave, but James had been excommunicated the day he decided to break the Treaty of Perpetual Peace, so to bury him in consecrated ground would be like jizzing in the eye of God. So, instead he was shoved in the woodshed at Sheen Abbey and left to rot.

There has been much speculation over James IV’s body. It is believed that it became detached from his head as it lay rotting in the Abbey until it eventually ended up getting dumped in a charnel pit in London. The exact site of the pit has now gone and a pub sits in its place, it is believed that James’ head is still underneath.

‘And what of Margaret?’ I hear you cry. Well she went on to lead a life of up’s and downs, marrying twice more, holding a coup, being a general mother bear and becoming Great Grandma to the one King that eventually did manage to untie the two countries, James VI.

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James IV and his beautiful wife, Queen Margaret, (though I say beautiful, she looks like a 1980’s headmistress in this painting, which is pretty shit considering she is meant to be fourteen).

 

*Some of the gifts can still be seen. For instance, a kick-ass illustrated bible called ‘The Hours of James IV’, (I say ‘kick-ass’ but if my husband gave me a bible nowadays there would be words, like actual harsh murder words), which can be seen in a museum in Vienna, and also a recently found, monogrammed wedding chest is on public display in Scotland. The monograms on the chest are identical to the ones that James commissioned to be put on the tiled floor at Linlithgow castle.

 

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21st April, 1509: The king is Dead; Long Live the King!

At 11pm on 21st April 1509, (though some historians believe it was 22nd), King Henry VII died at Richmond Palace. His death wasn’t a surprise to anybody because he’d been ill on and off for the past two years, and had locked himself away at Richmond due to the decline of his condition. Since Henry had been away from the public eye, it was able to be kept secret for the following two days until arrangements for succession had been made.

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Henry VII’s death bed. Apparently the 2 men on the right are holding piss pots to collect his urine…and I thought my job was wank.

Henry had had a turbulent life, for starters he was born to a fierce as fuck, 13 year old Lancastrian noble girl and his father had died before his birth. Then, for a long time after that, his life was blighted by The House of York who thought Henry was a threat to their throne, (and to be fair they had a point). Prior to his ascent to the throne his life went like this: He lived in exile because of the Yorkist’s, He rallied against the Yorkist’s, he scrapped with the Yorkist’s, he killed a Yorkist king and then married a Yorkist princess.

His marriage to Elizabeth of York was said to be a happy one, despite the initial circumstances that led to their union. The idea was that when Henry kicked arse at Bosworth, and killed King Richard, the young Lancastrian king would then marry the beautiful York princess in a bid to unite the houses and end the wars…and it worked. I like to think of it like a bit of a Romeo and Juliet story, (and in my head its set to a West Side Story backdrop but with mincing Tudors instead of not very threatening New Yorkers).

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Henry VII, the Miser King and his Smokin’ hot wife, Elizabeth of York. Punched above his weight, that one.


His life settled somewhat after he had secured the throne… well I say that but  there were a couple of hiccups, and a couple of kids claiming to be Elizabeth’s long lost brothers / royal heirs to the throne which must have been awkward, but nothing he didn’t handle. He ruled successfully for 23 years, but wasn’t particularly popular with his subjects who saw him as a tight arse and a miser, but to his credit he took the country out of bankruptcy and got shit done so it goes to show you can’t have it all.

His death was announced to the Kings Garter at their annual feast of St. George on 23rd April, then publically on the 24th. The throne was left to his 17 year old son, Henry, who, despite being the polar opposite to his father and a big fat misogynistic tool, also did a pretty good job of keeping the country ticking over*.

Henry is buried next to his wife in Westminster Abbey, in a chapel of his own making. He placed the Tudor’s on the throne and started a dynasty that lasted for 118 years…Good work I’d say.

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Elizabeth of York and Henry Tudor’s tomb: they even look good in all gold.

*I had a hard time writing that sentence. I initially wanted to remain unbiased, but that was never going to happen. Then I was going to put ‘also did a pretty good job of upholding the peace’, but then I though about the break from Rome, the reformation and the total annihilation of the monasteries, let alone scrapping in Scotland and France. So I settled with ‘ticking over’…I basically just see all of them as keeping it warm until Elizabeth came to sort shit out.

 

 

14th November 1501: Prince Arthur Tudor marries Katherine of Aragon.

Katy and Arthur…did they or didn’t they?

Arthur looking about 46, but actually aged 15.

Arthur looking about 46, but actually aged 15.

The very beautiful Katherine of Aragon

The very beautiful Katherine of Aragon

So today is the 514th wedding anniversary of Prince Arthur Tudor (the son of Henry VII and Catherine of York), and Katherine of Aragon. The wedding took place at St Paul’s Cathedral after Henry VII had gone all bridezilla and planned the festivities to the point of perfection. Katherine had been betrothed to Arthur since being 3 years old, so anticipations for the day were high.

Henry was super exited about the union of his son and the Spanish Princess. It mean an alliance with Spain and a fuck-tonne of cash for his treasury. Katherine brought with her a massive dowry and the security of a future baby for the Tudor dynasty. Katherine was the daughter of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabelle I of Castile. Ferdinand had made Henry promise that she would be treated as his daughter, never neglected and always shown the utmost respect. Henry had asked in return that Katherine did not show up with a gang of mingers as her ladies in waiting.

Katherine arrived in England after a ridiculous 3 months at sea to be greeted with masses of affection and a shit load of gifts. The public loved her, (after all this would hopefully mark the next generation of security for the throne and after the Wars of the Roses a few years previously, this is what the public craved). Its fair to say that the whole country celebrated the arrival of the beautiful Spanish princess and could not wait until the wedding.

The wedding itself was a grand affair: Henry VII had arranged street pageants and celebrations for the public to get involved with. He had even arranged a fountain outside  the Cathedral which flowed with wine in order to keep the public in high spirits, (though this turned out to be a fucking nightmare, as the treasury refused to foot the bill, so it had to come out of Henry’s own pocket. Since everyone in Tudor times liked a drink it cost a small fortune).

The Cathedral itself was draped with rich scarlet fabrics and the best tapestries that money could buy. The wedding itself took pace on a raised platform and was conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury whilst a chorus of trumpets sounded to announce the couples joyous day, (though probably not as the service took place as I image that to be quite distracting…not that many people would understand it anyway, what with it all being in Latin).

To make sure the day went well, Henry had enlisted the service of a holy gang: 19 English bishops and abbots (you never can have enough), to the 1 token member of the Spanish clergy there to represent Katherine. Good effort Henry. One weird thing was that the 16 year old Katherine was escorted to the alter by her soon to be brother-in-law, the most ostentatious ten year old in the country, The prince Henry Tudor.

Henry VIII as a young boy looking like a knob. Power and money aside, how did he manage to bag the ladies? seriously, how?! There are no words for this painting.

Henry VIII as a young boy looking like a knob. Power and money aside, how did he manage to bag the ladies? seriously, how?! There are no words for this painting.

After the ceremony the couple retreated to a banquet and that good old favourite Tudor past time of consuming so much meat and ale that their liver turned into a type of human foie grais. The festivities continued late into the night: both at the palace and in the streets. There was dancing, drinking and the odd pageant. The couple were said to be truly into each other (to be fair even if you wasn’t, you would do a good job of pretending, especially when your new father in law had a reputation as a bit of a badass and was partial to a bit of the old head removal).

After the celebrations the couple were then sent to bed. Katherine’s ladies got her ready and prepared the new bride for what was about to come next, (to be honest what they were to prepare her for was a rather sickly 15 year old boy, so they were probably telling her not to get her hopes too high). Arthur was sent into the room and the newly weds were left alone.This was a night that would later come back to be  proper pain in the arse for Katherine later in her life.

The following April the young prince Arthur died, possibly of something like sweating sickness or TB, but this meant that Katherine was widowed only a few months into her marriage. This left a problem for Henry VII, as he needed to keep her dowry and if Katherine went back to Spain  he would have to give it back to Ferdinand. After a few years, Katherine had become as good as  prisoner in the Tudor household. She was kept in squalor and treated badly. In order to keep her about the place,  Henry decided to marry her off to his younger son, Henry, (he had contemplated marrying her himself after the death of his wife…how grim is that?!).

I like to think this was a Tudor time equivalent to a tarot reading, predicting Katherines second marriage to an over excitable, ginger animal.

I like to think this was a Tudor time equivalent to a tarot reading, predicting Katherines second marriage to an over excitable, ginger animal.

Contrary to what you may think, Henry and Katherine were very much in love in the early days and were a couple not to fuck with. Henry would pop off for a war and Katherine would stay at home and rule the country. However, after 24 years and a distinct lack of sons Henry’s eyes began to wander. That’s when he met Anne Boylen.

Now this bitch was all up in Katherine grill, stealing her man and making a right mug out of her, so much so that Henry sought after a divorce. What does this have to do with Katherine’s marriage to Arthur? I hear you ask… well remember I said their wedding night would play an important part in Katherine’s future? This is where that comes in.

Henry had found a bit in the bible which stated something along the lines of ‘if you marry your brothers wife, bad shit will happen and you will encounter a fuck load of bad luck’. Henry used this to suggest that was the reason that the couple had never had a son and a load of children that had died in infancy. This was his grounds for divorce. Katherine countered it by saying that she had never consummated her marriage to Arthur so it was never actually ‘a marriage’ in the first place and therefore Henry was talking a load of old bollocks (just for a change).

Whether Katherine and Arthur did actually ‘hop on the good foot to do the bad thing’ we will never know. You can find evidence to suggest either, for instance Katherine was devout catholic and would never have lied in case she pissed off God and lost her place in line at the pearly gates. It was also common that Tudor youngsters, such as Katherine and Arthur on the night of their wedding, were dissuaded from shagging as it was feared that it lead to ill health, (so much so that Katherine was nearly kept in England as Arthur was sent to Ludlow in Wales, for fear of them having sexy fun times). In the other camp however, Arthur was noted to have come from the bedroom in the morning with a real thirst because he has ‘been in the midst of Spain’, which in itself makes me thing of a boasting teenager and also makes me want to vom. To be fair in a time where sexual education was either a quick chat 30 second prior to it happening, or rape, anything could’ve happened. My thinking is that if Katherine was as beautiful as records say, she could’ve done something as simple as brush her nightgown accidentally on his leg and he would’ve gone off like a firework…but who knows?

It didn’t matter either way though, because Henry took it upon himself to make himself the head of the church and therefore divorce Katherine regardless, (apparently the new religion was for the good of the people and definitely not because Henry was a fucking idiot with a wandering cock). So, I will leave you pondering whether 514 years ago, at maybe even this exact moment, the young prince Arthur was getting his end wet or not.

Happy anniversary to Katherine and Henry

Nobody actually knows if Katherine and Arthur consummated their marriage.