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James IV (March 17, 1473 – September 9, 1513) Born at Stirling Castle, James was the eldest son of King James III of Scotland and Margrethe of Denmark, the daughter of Christian I, King of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, and Dorothea of Brandenburg.

As heir apparent to the Scottish crown, James became Duke of Rothesay at birth.

James was King of Scotland from June 11, 1488 until his death at the Battle of Flodden in 1513. He inherited the throne at the age of fifteen on the death of his father, King James III, at the Battle of Sauchieburn, following a rebellion in which the younger James was the figurehead of the rebels. King James IV is generally regarded as the most successful of the Stewart monarchs. He was responsible for a major expansion of the Scottish royal navy, which included the founding of two royal dockyards and the acquisition or construction of 38 ships, including the Michael, the largest warship of its time.

Spanish monarchs Fernando II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile were appointed to arbitrate future disputes and unresolved issues such as redress for damages caused by the recent invasions. The possibility was also raised of strengthening the peace between both kingdoms with the marriage of James IV to Henry VII’s eldest daughter, Margaret.

King James IV of Scotland

Scottish and English commissioners met at Richmond Palace on 24 January 24, 1502, where they agreed on the marriage between James IV and Margaret, with a dowry of £35,000 Scots, and a peace treaty between the two kingdoms.

Under the terms of the Treaty of Perpetual Peace, there was to be “good, real and sincere, true, sound, and firm peace, friendship, league and confederation, to last all time coming” between England and Scotland, neither king or their successors were to make war against the other, and if either king broke the treaty, the Pope would excommunicate them.

In a ceremony at the altar of Glasgow Cathedral on December 10, 1502, King James IV confirmed the Treaty of Perpetual Peace with King Henry VII, the first peace treaty between Scotland and England since 1328.

The marriage was completed by proxy on January 25, 1503 at Richmond Palace in the presence of the King and Queen of England, the Earl of Bothwell standing as a proxy for the Scottish king. Margaret left Richmond for Scotland on June 27 and, after crossing the border at Berwick upon Tweed on August 1, 1503, was received at Lamberton by the Archbishop of Glasgow and the Bishop of Moray.

On August 8, 1503, the marriage of the 30-year old Scottish king and his 13-year old English bride was celebrated in person in Holyrood Abbey. The rites were performed by Robert Blackadder, Archbishop of Glasgow and Thomas Savage, Archbishop of York.

Their wedding was commemorated by the gift of the Hours of James IV of Scotland, and was portrayed as the marriage of The Thrissil and the Rois (the thistle and rose – the flowers of Scotland and England, respectively) by the poet William Dunbar, who was then resident at James’ court.

It is possible that the consummation of the marriage was delayed. This was not uncommon when young medieval brides were married, with the couple maintaining separate households or simply avoiding consummation until the bride was a more acceptable age. Margaret did not bear her first child until she was 17, so it is likely that James IV respected this convention.

Margaret of England

King James IV’s marriage to Margaret meant that only the future King Henry VIII stood between the Scottish king and the English succession, as Henry’s lack of an heir made it possible that either James or one of his successors might succeed if the Tudors failed to produce heirs.

Margaret’s first pregnancy resulted in the birth of James, Duke of Rothesay at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in February 1507. However, this heir to the throne died a year later in February 1508. At this point Margaret was already pregnant with a second child, a daughter whose name is unknown, and who was born and died in July 1508. In October 1509, a second son was born and named Arthur, a name recalling Margaret’s late brother, Arthur, Prince of Wales, and reminding the still heirless Henry VIII that, if he were unable to produce a legitimate son to succeed him, it might be a son of Margaret Tudor who would succeed.

James was a patron of the arts and took an active interest in the law, literature and science, even personally experimenting in dentistry and bloodletting. With his patronage the printing press came to Scotland, and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and the University of Aberdeen were founded. He commissioned the building of the Palace of Holyroodhouse and Falkland Palace, and extensive building work at Linlithgow Palace, Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle. The education act passed by the Parliament of Scotland in 1496 introduced compulsory schooling.

During James’s 25 year reign, royal income doubled, the crown exercised firm control over the Scottish church, royal administration was extended to the Highlands and the Hebrides, and by 1493 James had overcome the last independent Lord of the Isles.

Relations with England were improved with the Treaty of Perpetual Peace in 1502 and James’s marriage to Margaret Tudor in 1503 (the marriage led to the Union of the Crowns in 1603, when Elizabeth I of England died without heirs and James IV’s great-grandson James VI succeeded to the English throne).

The long period of domestic peace after 1497 allowed James to focus more on foreign policy, which included the sending of several of his warships to aid his uncle, King Hans of Denmark, in his conflict with Sweden; amicable relations with Pope Alexander VI, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I and Louis XII of France; and James’s aspiration to lead a European naval crusade against the Turks of the Ottoman Empire. James was granted the title of Protector and Defender of the Christian Faith in 1507 by Pope Julius II.

When Henry VIII of England invaded France in 1513 as part of the Holy League, James chose the Auld Alliance with the French over the ‘Perpetual Peace’ with the English, and answered France’s call for assistance by leading a large army across the border into England. James and many of his nobles were killed at the Battle of Flodden on September 9, 1513. He was the last monarch in Great Britain to be killed in battle, and was succeeded by his son James V.