On April 10, 1512, James V of Scotland was born. He was the oldest son of Margaret Tudor, the older sister of King Henry VIII of England, and the grandfather of James VI of Scotland. James VI later became James I of England and united the two Kingdoms after the death of his cousin, Elizabeth I. He died on December 15, 1541, a week after the birth of his daughter, Mary, Queen of Scots.
James V of Scotland: Grandfather of an English King
James V was born on April 10, 1512. He was the son of James IV and Margaret Tudor and the grandfather of the man who joined two Kingdoms, James VI of Scotland and I of England.
James V of Scotland – the Only Surviving Heir
James V was the only surviving heir of James IV of Scotland – James IV did have illegitimate children but due to their illegitimacy, they could not inherit the throne. James V was born at Linlithgow Palace and was christened the very next day. It is possible that James IV and Queen Margaret Tudor feared that their son would not survive infancy as this was quick, even for 16th century Scotland.
James V succeeded the throne at a very young age – just 17 months old. His father died on the battlefield in an attempt to go to war against England. Margaret became his regent until she remarried in 1514. The regency passed onto the 2nd Duke of Albany, John Stewart, who was the third in line to the throne (James’ younger brother, Alexander, was the second in line).
Finances were tight during James V’s rule. He tightened the control over the royal estates and through the profits gained from feudal, customs and justice rights. He also ensured that the church wealth was placed into the royal coffers. He used the finances to improve the building work at various palaces, including Linlithgow, Falkland and Stirling Palaces, along with Holyrood. Some of the money also went onto his illegitimate sons.
James V Takes a French Bride
The Treaty of Rouen was signed in 1517, which meant that James would take a French bride – from royalty – as long as the alliance between Scotland and France was maintained. As James reached adulthood, there was a problem, as the daughters of Francis I were either engaged or sickly. James started looking for other potential brides, including Mary of Austria, Charles V’s sister and Catherine de-Medici. However, by February 1533, James set his eyes on Christina of Denmark.
On March 6, 1536, the daughter of the Duke of Vendome, Mary of Bourbon, was promised to James. It would be as if she were French by having a dowry. James wanted to meet her in person and left Kirkcaldy on September 1, 1536. However, James did not marry Mary. Francis I’s daughter, Madeleine’s health improved and she married James V on January 1, 1537.
Madeleine’s health did not improve enough though and she died just seven months into the marriage – and just two months after arriving to Scotland. Almost a year later, James V married Mary of Guise, the widow of Louis II d’Orleans, Duke of Longueville and they had two sons and a daughter. Their two sons died in 1541 and their daughter was the only surviving heir. Their daughter became Mary, Queen of Scots.
James did have nine, known, illegitimate children. Like his father, his illegitimate children could not be placed in line for the throne but the majority did survive into adulthood.
James V, King of the Commons
James gained the nickname, King of the Commons. He would regularly walk around various areas of Scotland dressed as a common man. He often described himself as the farmer/landlord of Ballengeich, which was a road near Stirling Castle. This would help him learn of the views of the Scottish people.
He was also a musical man and enjoyed listening to his Italian band in court. He also played the lute and could sight-read music. Other interests included reading books and poems. One of his favourites was the History of Scotland, which James V had translated by John Bellenden and William Stewart.
James V and the War with England and Death
James V kept the peace with England, despite his father being killed on the battlefield. This was only out of respect of his mother. After Margaret Tudor’s death in 1541, James commanded his army to go to war. The first battle with England, the Battle of Haddon Rig, was a success for the Scottish King. However, England won the next battle at Solway Moss.
It was after this battle that James fell ill on December 6, 1541. It is possible that the illness was brought on by the stress from the loss but it was likely just a fever. James died on December 15, 1541, without ever meeting his daughter, who was born a week before his death. James was buried in Holyrood beside his two sons and first wife, Madeleine the next month.