Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scots

Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scots

The Life of King Henry VIII’s Sister

The troubled life of King Henry VIII's older sister, Margaret, Queen of Scots, during the tumultuous early years of the 16th Century.


Margaret Tudor was Henry VIII's older sister and became the Queen of Scotland after her marriage to James IV in 1503. Her life was troubled and fraught with tension. She was continually caught between her country of birth and the country she ruled. After James IV’s death, she made the disastrous decision to marry the Earl of Angus, threatening her regency and forcing the Scottish council to send for the Duke of Albany to rule in her stead. Over the years, Margaret’s allegiance swung between England and Scotland, making her brother Henry VIII both her ally and her enemy at times. Although Margaret wished for peace between the two countries, these were tumultuous years and she didn’t always make the wisest choices. Yet, all she did she did for her son James V, and her absolute conviction he would rule Scotland as its rightful king.


A great historical informative book on the Tudors. There is so much information that I haven’t known, so much history in this book, it was a fantastic read if you are interested into the Tudor history. ~ Vanesa Dukovic, NetGalley, GoodReads, Amazon

Margaret Tudor is in someways the forgotten Tudor. Daughter of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, she was the Queen of Scotland for a time and it was through her that the Stuart kings ascended the throne. Yet in many modern retellings, including The Tudors, her story forgotten or worse, merged with her sister's tale. This book attempts to remedy that. Using correspondence and chronicles of the time, Watkins weaves together a complex tapestry of the woman who was Margaret Tudor. Starting from her birth, we explore Margaret's world and her place in it. We meet everyone who would later influence her life and her choices. It helps explain her complexity and also her historical importance. And make no bones about it, Margaret is important. I picked up this book because I have an inordinate love of Tudor history. It was my focus in college, and my historical focus in my post-graduate education. I was not disappointed. The author has clearly done their research (which is good considering this is a non-fiction book) and has gone out of her way to include little tidbits into Margaret's life. I especially enjoyed the inclusion of her letters other documents which both humanized Margaret and also provided historical context to the book. ~ Michelle Louise, NetGalley

Margaret’s story starts off with a mundane feel, but the author, Sarah-Beth Watkins, reminds the reader that Margaret is a Tudor and so, of course, Margaret’s story is going to be full of drama—guaranteed! Watkins does not disappoint. She shows Margaret’s good intentions, poor taste in men, and exciting intrigue. At times, it is hard to side with our heroine, but the reader will feel sorry for her. But when all the shady characters and conspiracies meet, the reader is led to a satisfying finish and will conclude that Margaret was a remarkable woman, whose fight for her family’s future was worth it. ~ Sarah Patten,

Margaret’s life was very fascinating, and it is sad that she is mostly a forgotten woman in Tudor history. ~ Lauralee Jacks, History From A Woman's Perspective

Of all the Tudor children, Margaret is the I am the least familiar with. Always relegated to the shadows of her domineering brother and beautiful, but tragic sister, this feisty lightening bolt of a woman never seems to be given much thought in books about the period. In this little gem of a biography, she is finally given her due. Combining careful research with an engaging narrative style, Sarah-Beth Watkins takes the reader on a journey through the hardships and triumphs of this elusive Tudor woman. Watkins' thoughtful prose lends gravity to the heartbreak so prevalent in Margaret's life. I hadn't realized how much tragedy had befallen the queen until now. Never one to take these events lying down, Margaret's strength endures, as evidenced by the selected excerpts of primary sources woven throughout the book. These excerpts are perfectly chosen to move the narrative forward without bogging the reader down. The only thing that would make Margaret Tudor: Queen of Scots better is if it were longer. I so thoroughly enjoyed my time in 16th century Scotland, that I wasn't ready for it to end. Highly recommend! ~ Adrienne Dillard, Author of Cor Rotto: A novel of Catherine Carey and The Raven's Widow: A novel of Jane Boleyn

Biographies of kings and queens tend to chronicle their lives primarily as entwined with the historical and political contexts in which they lived, a focus that sometimes necessitates omitting everyday details of their personal lives. By contrast, in the early chapters of this biography, the author’s inclusion of specific details concerning the food, clothing, entourages, activities, and festivities in the life of Margaret Tudor leave a colorful impression. At times, the beginning chapters read like a romance novel, complete with descriptions of Margaret’s luxurious trousseau and a full record of the vows spoken at her betrothal by proxy. Thankfully, the author also provides a complex, nuanced portrait of the political scene, fraught by tensions, conflicts, and wars among England, France, and Scotland. We see this scene afresh from the perspective of Margaret, who at thirteen years of age was married to King James IV of Scotland, a politically motivated union intended to help broker peace between Scotland and England. In fact, however, shifting alliances and unstable relations among England, Scotland, and France often put Margaret and her brother Henry VIII at odds with one another: and Margaret’s husband, James IV, was killed during one of many conflicts between England and Scotland. Following an ill-considered second marriage, Margaret, who began life in the lap of luxury, endured hard years filled with unfaithfulness in the men she loved, painful separations from her children, and financial difficulties occasioned by schemes to deprive her of her rightful income. The course of her life and legacy is well presented in this biography. ~ Cynthia Haller , Educator at York College, City University of New York/NetGalley

I had never given Margaret Tudor much thought beyond being a sibling of Henry VIII. Watkins' biography reveals a colorful life as Queen of Scotland. She went on to marry two more times after her first husband's demise, and even procured a divorce from the second husband and wanted one from her third. The biography also illuminates her daughter's struggles with many of the same factions as Margaret herself. The story also details the complex relations among the Scots, English, and the French. ~ Janilyn Kocher , NetGalley

Margaret Tudor, Henry VIII’s older sister, can be considered a forgotten Tudor. Henry and her wives are extremely popular and researched, her younger sister Mary is also known, but Margaret tends to be left out, which is a pity because her life was truly turbulent and interesting. Sarah-Beth Watkins's work is a short but well focused biography. Her writing style is nothing spectacular, but it is simple and accessible and makes for an easy read. The historical research is good; also, the author quotes several letters written by Margaret herself, and this gives an insight into her personality without making the read too arduous. Margaret was a determined and strong willed woman, devoted to her son, who had to learn to live in a very different country from the one she was born in. It is true she sometimes made unwise decisions, but she had to face many difficult situations, and often without allies. She had many admirable traits; and also a remarkable bad luck in love! I would recommend Sarah-Beth Watkins's book. It is a short but well constructed biography and it will serve you well if you are interested in this unjustly forgotten woman. ~ Elena Vivenzi , GoodReads

There have been a seemingly never ending stream of books about the Tudors in recent years but certain of the Tudor family have somewhat gone under the radar. Two in particular I would argue would be Mary Tudor (initially before his death married to the King of France) and Margaret Tudor the wife of James IV of Scotland. This neglect is now addressed by Sarah-Beth Watkins concise and very readable biography "Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scots" subtitled "The Life of King Henry VIII’s Sister". Margaret was born in 1489 and for political reasons inorder to cement the ties between England and Scotland a marriage was arranged with James V of Scotland by proxy on 25 January 1503 when she was just 13 years old. This is a story of political intrigue and Machiavellian twists and turns as Scotland becomes intrinsically caught up in a power struggle between England and France (the "Auld Alliance"). This would lead Scotland to fight the calamitous battle of Flodden in 1514 where James IV would perish and leave Margaret at the mercy of her mostly hostile Scottish nobles and her scheming and unreliable brother Henry VIII. Two fairly disastrous marriages would follow, first to Archibald Douglas the 6th Earl of Angus and then to Henry Stewart, 1st Lord Methven. For long periods of her life Margaret felt "she was stuck between England and France" and was used whether willingly or nor by one side or another. The two constant motivations of her life was to was to bring about better relations and understanding between England and Scotland and to ensure the ascendency to the throne of her son the eventual James V of Scotland. This fast moving and continually shifting saga is very well told in this book and there are extracts from letters written at the time which gives an added understanding to the events taken place. I enjoyed the book and would certainly recommend it to those who enjoy history and to those seeking to gain a deeper appreciation of this fascinating period of history ~ G Heard, NetGalley

At school, history was always one of my most disliked subjects, I dreaded it. I found everything about it so incredibly tedious and clock-watched for the whole hour! As I have grown up, this has changed dramatically and I am very pleased it did so. I don't quite know when it changed but I do wish I could've enjoyed my history lessons more when at school. This book is part of my foray into the true history genre. I know there are many many more, a plethora of other related history that I would like to read too and would like to fill in the gaps in my knowledge of Kings and Queen's. I see that Sarah-Beth Watkins has written a few more books on history that I am interested in reading. I thought that I may find this a tad boring but I was pleasantly surprised and will not hesitate to pick up similar books in future. I enjoyed the fact that it was every bit a true story, it meant I was learning something and as an enthusiastic learner I loved this aspect of it! Margaret Tudor, the older sister of Henry VIII, had a extremely turbulent and thoroughly eventful life but as her brother Henry also lived a complicated existence Margaret has been written about a lot less. Sarah-Beth Watkins helps to remedy this by writing this fantastically engaging book full of meticulously compiled research and a readable and simple narrative. I love the including of Margaret's correspondence in the form of letters, it really helps in understanding Margaret's frame of mind and situation at the time they were written. Margaret Tudor was Henry VIII's older sister and became the Queen of Scotland after her marriage to James IV in 1503. Her life was troubled and fraught with tension. She was continually caught between her country of birth and the country she ruled. After James IV's death, she made the disastrous decision to marry the Earl of Angus, threatening her regency and forcing the Scottish council to send for the Duke of Albany to rule in her stead. Over the years Margaret's allegiance swung between England and Scotland making her brother Henry VIII both her ally and her enemy at times. Although Margaret wished for peace between the two countries, these were tumultuous years and she didn't always make the wisest choices. Yet all she did, she did for her son James V and her absolute conviction he would rule Scotland as its rightful king. There has always been a fascination with the Tudors but Margaret is usually in the background - mentioned in many books chronicling the lives of her relatives, this book puts her at the forefront and finally she is more than a peripheral figure. Her brother Henry VIII has received the most attention over the years. Even her sister Mary has been written about in depth while Margaret has continued to be a passing thought in period books. This is why I am glad her life has been written about so beautifully but it was far from a bed of roses. Margaret's life was scattered with a lot of testing times and heartbreak and the author portrays this extremely well. It is difficult to imagine what it would have been like experiencing the amount of tragedies that she did. Although she could have easily given up and given in her strength shines through and she stands strong. These themes are prevalent in her letters to various people and in some cases they are rather emotional. Revealing her true thoughts and innermost feelings. It is a rather short book which manages to have depth but not be bogged down in detail - this is a feat in itself. I loved this so much that I didn't want it to end in all honesty. I was sad to leave 16th century Scotland but I am positive I will return to it soon. Highly recommended. I voluntarily accepted an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. ~ Lou B, NetGalley

Inform yous, in a most factual and well written manner her [Margaret Tudor's] story. A life that is full of conflict and I can imagine that she was quite weary at the end of her life, she had gone through so much, but I admire her strength and tenacity, she fought for what she wanted and above all wanted the very best for her children. She was definatly born into an era of men, they dominated her world and she was pushed and pulled around by them, but I applaud her for standing up for what she believed was just and right. Watkins was thorough in her research and backed up her writing with excerpts of letters written by Margaret and received by her, which were interesting to read. I will keep this book, so I can reference through it again at my leisure, for it is a book that is well worth a read, particularly if you want to know more about this sister or indeed just this time period. ~ Julie Wright, Tudor Rose

I love Tudor romance fiction and this was an amazing journey! ~ Sheena Brown, NetGalley

Praise for Sarah-Beth Watkins' companion title The Tudor Brandons: Impressively detailed research combined with a remarkable storytelling talent on the part of author Sarah-Beth Watkins,The Tudor Brandons is a consistently compelling and exceptionally informative read from beginning to end. ~ Midwest Book Review

Sarah-Beth Watkins
Sarah-Beth Watkins Sarah-Beth Watkins has been a freelance writer for over 20 years writing for magazines and websites, on a wide range of topics. She has writ...

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