James IV of Scotland

James IV (17 March 1473 – 9 September 1513) was the King of Scotland from 11 June 1488 to his death. He assumed the throne following the death of his father, King James III, (1451/52–1488, reigned 1460–1488) at the Battle of Sauchieburn, a rebellion in which the younger James played an indirect role. He is generally regarded as the most successful of the Stewart monarchs of Scotland, but his reign ended in a disastrous defeat at the Battle of Flodden. He was the last monarch from the island of Great Britain to be killed in battle.

James IV's marriage in 1503 to Margaret Tudor linked the royal houses of Scotland and England. It led to the Union of the Crowns in 1603, when Elizabeth I died without heirs and James IV's great-grandson James VI succeeded to the English throne as James I.

James IV
James IV of Scotland
King of Scotland
Reign11 June 1488 – 9 September 1513
Coronation24 June 1488
PredecessorJames III
SuccessorJames V
Born17 March 1473
Stirling Castle, Scotland
Died9 September 1513 (aged 40)
Branxton, Northumberland, England
SpouseMargaret Tudor
James V of Scotland
FatherJames III of Scotland
MotherMargaret of Denmark
ReligionRoman Catholic

Early life

James was the son of King James III and Margaret of Denmark, born in Holyrood Abbey.[1] As heir apparent to the Scottish crown, he became Duke of Rothesay. He had two younger brothers, James and John. In 1474, his father arranged his betrothal to the English princess Cecily of York, daughter of Edward IV of England.[2] His father James III was not a popular king, facing two major rebellions during his reign, and alienating many members of his close family, especially his younger brother Alexander Stewart, Duke of Albany. James III's pro-English policy was also unpopular, and rebounded badly upon him when the marriage negotiations with England broke down over lapsed dowry payments, leading to the invasion of Scotland and capture of Berwick in 1482 by Cecily's uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester, in the company of the Duke of Albany. When James III attempted to lead his army against the invasion, his army rebelled against him and he was briefly imprisoned by his own councillors in the first major crisis of his reign.[3]

James IV's mother, Margaret of Denmark, was apparently more popular than his father, and though somewhat estranged from her husband she was given responsibility for raising their sons at Stirling Castle, but she died in 1486. Two years later, a second rebellion broke out, where the rebels set up the 15-year-old Prince James as their nominal leader. They fought James III at the Battle of Sauchieburn on 11 June 1488, where the king was killed, though several later sources claimed that Prince James had forbidden any man to harm his father.[4] The younger James took the throne and was crowned at Scone on 24 June. However he continued to bear intense guilt for the indirect role which he had played in the death of his father. He decided to do penance for his sin. Each Lent, for the rest of his life, he wore a heavy iron chain cilice around his waist, next to the skin. He added extra ounces every year.[5]



St. Mary's kirk, Ladykirk - geograph.org.uk - 499576
James IV ordered the Kirk of Steill to be built in 1500, for the Christian Jubilee, and to commemorate his rescue from the nearby river Tweed

James IV quickly proved an effective ruler and a wise king. He defeated another rebellion in 1489, took a direct interest in the administration of justice and finally brought the Lord of the Isles under control in 1493. For a time, he supported Perkin Warbeck, pretender to the English throne, and carried out a brief invasion of England on his behalf in September 1496. Then in August 1497, James laid siege to Norham Castle, using his grandfather's bombard Mons Meg.

James recognised nonetheless that peace between Scotland and England was in the interest of both countries, and established good diplomatic relations with England, which was emerging at the time from a period of civil war. First he ratified the Treaty of Ayton in 1497. Then, in 1502 James signed the Treaty of Perpetual Peace with Henry VII. This treaty was sealed by his marriage to Henry's daughter Margaret Tudor the next year, in an event portrayed as the marriage of The Thrissil and the Rois (the thistle and rose - the two flowers of Scotland and England) by the great poet William Dunbar, who was then resident at James' court.

James was granted the title of Defender of the Faith in 1507 by the Papal Legate at Holyrood Abbey.[6]

James maintained Scotland's traditional good relations with France, however and this occasionally created diplomatic problems with England. For example, when rumours that James would renew the Auld alliance circulated in April 1508, Thomas Wolsey was sent to discuss Henry VII's concerns over this. Wolsey found "there was never a man worse welcome into Scotland than I,... they keep their matters so secret here that the wives in the market know every cause of my coming."[7] Nonetheless, Anglo-Scottish relations generally remained stable until the death of Henry VII in 1509.

James saw the importance of building a fleet that could provide Scotland with a strong maritime presence. James founded two new dockyards for this purpose and acquired a total of 38 ships for the Royal Scots Navy, including the Margaret, and the carrack Great Michael. The latter, built at great expense at Newhaven, near Edinburgh and launched in 1511, was 240 feet (73 m) in length, weighed1,000 tons and was, at that time, the largest ship in the world.[8]


James IV Arms
Arms of James IV displayed in the Great Hall he built at Stirling Castle

James IV was a true Renaissance prince with an interest in practical and scientific matters. He granted the Incorporation of Surgeons and Barbers of Edinburgh (later the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh) a royal charter in 1506, turned Edinburgh Castle into one of Scotland's foremost gun foundries, and welcomed the establishment of Scotland's first printing press in 1507. He built a part of Falkland Palace, and Great Halls at Stirling and Edinburgh castles, and furnished his palaces with tapestries.[9] James was a patron of the arts, including many literary figures, most notably the Scots makars whose diverse and socially observant works convey a vibrant and memorable picture of cultural life and intellectual concerns of the period. Figures associated with his court include William Dunbar, Walter Kennedy and Gavin Douglas, who made the first complete translation of Virgil's Aeneid in northern Europe. His reign also saw the passing of the makar Robert Henryson. He patronised music at Restalrig using rental money from the King's Wark.[10] He also gave his backing to the foundation of King's College, Aberdeen by his chancellor, William Elphinstone, and St Leonard's College, St Andrews by his illegitimate son Alexander Stewart, Archbishop of St Andrews, and John Hepburn, Prior of St Andrews. Partly at Elphinstone's instance, in 1496 he also passed what has been described as Scotland's first education act, which dictated that all barons and freeholders of substance had to send their eldest sons and heirs to school for a certain time.

James was well educated and a fluent polyglot. In July 1498 the Spanish envoy Pedro de Ayala reported to Ferdinand and Isabella that

The King is 25 years and some months old. He is of noble stature, neither tall nor short, and as handsome in complexion and shape as a man can be. His address is very agreeable. He speaks the following foreign languages: Latin, very well; French, German, Flemish, Italian, and Spanish; Spanish as well as the Marquis, but he pronounces it more distinctly. He likes, very much, to receive Spanish letters. His own Scots language is as different from English as Aragonese from Castilian. The King speaks, besides, the language of the savages who live in some parts of Scotland and on the islands. It is as different from Scots as Biscayan is from Castilian. His knowledge of languages is wonderful. He is well read in the Bible and in some other devout books. He is a good historian. He has read many Latin and French histories, and profited by them, as he has a very good memory. He never cuts his hair or his beard. It becomes him very well.[11]

James IV was the last King of Scots known to have spoken Scottish Gaelic. James is one of the rulers reported to have conducted a language deprivation experiment,[12] sending two children to be raised by a mute woman alone on the island of Inchkeith, to determine if language was learned or innate.[13] James was especially interested in surgery and medicine, and also other sciences which are now less creditable: in Stirling Castle, he established an alchemy workshop where alchemist John Damian looked for ways to turn base metals into gold.[14] The project consumed quantities of mercury, golden litharge, and tin.[15] Damian also researched aviation and undertook a failed experiment to fly from the battlements of Stirling Castle, an event which William Dunbar satirised in two separate poems.[16]

Policy in the Highlands and Isles

James IV King of Scotland
James IV, copy by Daniël Mijtens of lost contemporary portrait

In May 1493 John MacDonald, Lord of the Isles, was forfeited by the Parliament of Scotland. King James himself sailed to Dunstaffnage Castle, where the western chiefs made their submissions to him. John surrendered and was brought back as a pensioner to the royal court, then lived at Paisley Abbey. The Highlands and Islands now fell under direct royal control. John's grandson Domhnall Dubh (Donald Owre), one of the possible claimants to the Lordship, was peaceable, but the other, his nephew Alexander MacDonald of Lochalsh invaded Ross and was later killed on the island of Oronsay in 1497.[17]

In October 1496 the Royal Council ordered that the clan chiefs in the region would be held responsible by the king for crimes of the islanders. This act for the governance of the region was unworkable, and after the Act of Revocation of 1498 undermined the chiefs' titles to their lands, resistance to Edinburgh rule was strengthened. James waited at Kilkerran Castle at Campbeltown Loch to regrant the chiefs' charters in the summer of 1498. Few of the chiefs turned up.[18] At first, Archibald Campbell, 2nd Earl of Argyll was set to fill the power vacuum and enforce royal authority, but he met with limited success in a struggle with his brother-in-law, Torquil MacLeod of Lewis. Torquil was ordered to hand over Donald Dubh, heir to the lordship of the Isles, to James IV at Inverness in 1501. James waited, but Torquil never came.

After this defiance, Alexander Gordon, 3rd Earl of Huntly, was granted Torquil's lands. He raised an army in Lochaber and also cleared the tenants of that area, replacing them with his supporters.[19] After the parliament of 1504, a royal fleet sailed north from Ayr to attack the Castle of Cairn-na-Burgh, west of Mull, where it is thought that Maclean of Duart had Donald Dubh in his keeping.[20] As progress at the siege was slow, James sent Hans the royal gunner in Robert Barton's ship and then the Earl of Arran with provisions and more artillery. Cairn-na-Burgh was captured by June 1504 but Donald Dubh remained at liberty.[21] In September 1507, Torquil MacLeod was besieged at Stornoway Castle on Lewis. Donald Dubh was captured and imprisoned for the rest of his life, and Torquil MacLeod died in exile in 1511. The Earl of Huntly was richly rewarded for his troubles, a price that James was prepared to pay.[22]

War and death

When war broke out between England and France as a result of the Italian Wars, James found himself in a difficult position as an ally by treaty to both France and England.[23] Since the accession of Henry VIII in 1509, relations with England had worsened, and when Henry invaded France, James reacted by declaring war on England.

James had already baulked at the interdict of his kingdom by Pope Julius II, and he opposed its confirmation by Pope Leo X, so that he was not in a good position with the pontiff.[24] Leo sent a letter to James, threatening him with ecclesiastical censure for breaking peace treaties, on 28 June 1513, and James was subsequently excommunicated by Cardinal Christopher Bainbridge.

James summoned sailors and sent the Scottish navy, including the Great Michael, to join the ships of Louis XII of France, so joining in the War of the League of Cambrai.[25] Hoping to take advantage of Henry's absence at the siege of Thérouanne, he led an invading army southward into Northumberland, only to be killed, with many of his nobles and common soldiers, and also several churchmen, including his son the archbishop of St Andrews, at the disastrous Battle of Flodden on 9 September 1513. This was one of Scotland's worst military defeats in history and the loss of not only a popular and capable king, but also a large portion of the political community, was a major blow to the realm. James IV's son, James V, was crowned three weeks after the disaster at Flodden, but was not yet two years old, and his minority was to be fraught with political upheaval.

Both English and Scottish accounts of Flodden emphasise the King's determination to fight. In his otherwise flattering portrayal of James, Pedro de Ayala remarks on his ability as a military commander, portraying him as brusque and fearless on the battlefield:

He is courageous, even more so than a king should be. I am a good witness of it. I have seen him often undertake most dangerous things in the last wars. On such occasions he does not take the least care of himself. He is not a good captain, because he begins to fight before he has given his orders. He said to me that his subjects serve him with their persons and goods, in just and unjust quarrels, exactly as he likes, and that therefore he does not think it right to begin any warlike undertaking without being himself the first in danger. His deeds are as good as his words.[26]

A body, thought to be that of James, was recovered from the battlefield and taken to London for burial. James had been excommunicated, and although Henry VIII had obtained a breve from the Pope on 29 November 1513 to have the King buried in consecrated ground at St. Paul's, the embalmed body lay unburied for many years at Sheen Priory in Surrey.[27] The body was lost after the Reformation, which led to the demolition of the priory.[28] John Stow claimed to have seen it, and said the king's head (with red hair) was removed by a glazier and eventually buried at St Michael Wood Street. The church was later demolished and the site redeveloped many times; it is now occupied by a public house.[28][29] James's bloodstained coat was sent to Henry VIII (then on campaign in France) by his queen, Catherine of Aragon.[30]

Erasmus provided an epitaph for the King in his Adagia. Later, in 1533, he wrote to James V pointing out this essay on duty under the adage Spartam nactus es, hanc exorna (You who were born to Sparta shall serve her) on the subject of the Flodden campaign and the death of James, and also that of his son Alexander, who had been Erasmus' pupil for a time.[31]

Legends of the King's resting place

Rumours persisted that James had survived and had gone into exile, or that his body was buried in Scotland. Two castles in the Scottish Borders are claimed as his resting place. The legend ran that, before the Scots charge at Flodden, James had ripped off his royal surcoat to show his nobles that he was prepared to fight as an ordinary man at arms. What was reputed to be James IV's body recovered by the English did not have the iron chain round its waist. (Some historians claimed he removed his chain while "dallying" in Lady Heron's bedroom.) Border legend claimed that during the Battle of Flodden four Home horsemen or supernatural riders swept across the field snatching up the King's body, or that the King left the field alive and was killed soon afterwards. In the 18th century when the medieval well of Hume Castle was being cleared, the skeleton of a man with a chain round his waist was discovered in a side cave; but this skeleton has since disappeared. Another version of this tale has the skeleton discovered at Hume a few years after the battle, and re-interred at Holyrood Abbey. The same story was told for Roxburgh Castle, with the skeleton there discovered in the 17th century. Yet another tradition is the discovery of the royal body at Berry Moss, near Kelso. Fuelling these legends, Robert Lindsay of Pitscottie, writing in the 1570s, claimed that a convicted criminal offered to show Regent Albany the King's grave ten years after the battle, but Albany refused.[32]


His early betrothal to Cecily of York came to nothing, but interest in an English marriage remained. Also, a marriage alliance was contemplated with the daughter of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, Maria of Aragon, but the plans came to nothing.

In a ceremony at the altar of Glasgow Cathedral on 10 December 1502, James confirmed the Treaty of Perpetual Peace with Henry VII of England.[33] By this treaty James married Henry's daughter Margaret Tudor. After a wedding by proxy in London, the marriage was confirmed in person on 8 August 1503 at Holyrood Abbey, Edinburgh. Their wedding was commemorated by the gift of a Book of Hours.

The union produced only one son who reached adulthood, with three further sons who died as infants and two stillborn daughters:[34]

  • James Stewart, Duke of Rothesay (21 February 1507, Holyrood Palace – 27 February 1508, Stirling Castle), firstborn son, died an infant;
  • A stillborn daughter, born at Holyrood Palace on 15 July 1508.
  • Arthur Stewart, Duke of Rothesay (20 October 1509, Holyrood Palace – Edinburgh Castle, 14 July 1510), 2nd son, died an infant;
  • King James V (Linlithgow Palace, 10 April 1512 – Falkland Palace, Fife, 14 December 1542), third and only child to survive infancy, successor to his father.
  • A second stillborn daughter born at Holyrood Palace in November 1512.
  • Alexander Stewart, Duke of Ross (Stirling Castle, 30 April 1514 – Stirling Castle, 18 December 1515), 4th son, born after James's death, died an infant.

Illegitimate children

James also had several illegitimate children with four different mistresses; five of the children are known to have reached adulthood:[34]

Fictional portrayals

James IV has been depicted in historical novels and short stories. They include:[35]

  • The Yellow Frigate (1855) by James Grant,[35] also known as The Three Sisters.[36] The main events of the novel take place in the year 1488, covering the Battle of Sauchieburn, the assassination of James III of Scotland, the rise to the throne of James IV, and the plots of the so-called English faction in Scotland. James IV, and Margaret Drummond are prominently depicted. Andrew Wood of Largo and Henry VII of England are secondary characters.[35]
  • In the King's Favour (1899) by J. E. Preston Muddock. Covers the last few months of James IV's reign and ends with the Battle of Flodden (1513).[37]
  • The Arrow of the North (1906) by R. H. Forster. The novel mainly depicts Northumberland in the reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII. It covers the Flodden campaign of the Anglo-Scottish Wars and the finale depicts the battle which ended James IV's life.[37]
  • The Crimson Field (1916) by Halliwell Sutcliffe. Also covers the Anglo-Scottish Wars. It features James IV and "ends with a full account of the Battle of Flodden" (1513).[37]
  • King Heart (1926) by Carola Oman. The story depicts Scotland in the time of James IV. The king himself is depicted in an epilogue featuring the Battle of Flodden (1513).[35]
  • Gentle Eagle (1937) by Christine Orr, fictional account of the king's life
  • Chain of Destiny (1964) by Nigel Tranter, fictional account of the king's life, from Sauchieburn to Flodden
  • Falcon (1972) by A J Stewart, an unusual work by an author claiming to be a reincarnation of the king
  • Three Sisters, Three Queens (2016) by Philippa Gregory, a fictional work from the point of view of Margaret Tudor, extensively featuring James
  • "The Tournament of the Black Lady", a short story which features the 1508 jousting tournament held by King James at Edinburgh Castle
  • The Tournament of the African Lady, a short animation that recreates the jousting tournament held by King James IV of Scotland on the 31st May 1508
  • "Sunset at Noon" (1955) by Jane Oliver a fictionalised account of the king's life.


  1. ^ MacDougall, Margaret of Denmark, ODNB
  2. ^ Marshall, Rosalind K. (2003). Scottish Queens, 1034–1714. Tuckwell Press. p. 85.
  3. ^ Macdougall, Norman, James IV, pp. 5–7.
  4. ^ Goodwin, George. Fatal Rivalry: Flodden 1513. New York: WW Norton, 2013. pp. 9–10.
  5. ^ Lindsay of Pitscottie, Robert, The History of Scotland, Robert Freebairn, Edinburgh (1778), p. 149.
  6. ^ Grant, James Old and New Edinburgh, Vol. III, Ch. 7, p. 47
  7. ^ Macdougall, Norman, James IV, (1997), p. 254; Letters James IV, SHS (1953) p. xlii and 107–11; Pinkerton, John, History of Scotland from the Accession, vol. 2 (1797), p. 449, prints Wolsey's letter in full and attributes it to Nicolas West.
  8. ^ Macdougall, Norman, James IV, Tuckwell (1997); chapter 'Royal Obsession: The Navy', pp. 223–46.
  9. ^ Dunbar, John G., Scottish Royal Palaces, Tuckwell (1999).
  10. ^ W. Swan, South Leith Records Second Series (Leith, 1925), p. 191.
  11. ^ Calendar of State Papers, Spain (1485–1509), volume 1 (1862), No. 210, English translation from Spanish.: See original letter at Archivo General de Simancas, PTR, LEG,52, DOC.166 - 857V - Imagen Núm: 2 / 26
  12. ^ "First Language Acquisition". Western Washington University. Retrieved 3 February 2007.
  13. ^ Dalyell, John Graham, ed., The Chronicles of Scotland by Robert Lindsay of Pitscottie, vol. 1, Edinburgh (1814) pp. 249–250.
  14. ^ Read, John (8 May 1958). "An Alchemical Airman". New Scientist: 30. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  15. ^ Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland, vol. 3, HM General Register House (1901), 99, 202, 206, 209, 330, 340, 341, 353, 355, 365, 379, 382, 389, 409: vol. 2 (1900), 362.
  16. ^ Read 31.
  17. ^ Mackie, R.L., James IV, (1958), pp. 76 and 188–98.
  18. ^ MacDougall, Norman, James IV, (1997), 176–177.
  19. ^ MacDougall, Norman, (1997), 179–181.
  20. ^ MacDougall, Norman, James IV, (1997), 185.
  21. ^ MacDougall, Norman, (1997), 185-186.
  22. ^ MacDougall, Norman, James IV, (1997), p. 189.
  23. ^ MacDougall, Norman, James IV, Tuckwell (1998) p.207
  24. ^ British History Online. Quote: "James had told the Dean of Windsor (West), the English ambassador, that he would appeal from the letters of execution [of the Scottish interdict]. The Dean said he could not appeal from any proceedings of the Pope, as he had no superior. Then, said the King, I will appeal to Prester John — a noted pirate and apostate who commands the French galleys. [Henry VIII thinks] such folly ought to be chastised. It is impious to abuse the Pope, the Head of Christendom." (12 April 1513 entry)
  25. ^ Hannay, Robert Kerr, ed., Letters of James IV, SHS (1953), pp. 307–8, 315–16 and 318–19.
  26. ^ Calendar of State Papers, Spain,(1485–1509), volume 1 (1862), no. 210, English translation from encrypted Spanish
  27. ^ Herbert, Edward, The Life and Reign of Henry VIII,(1672), 45: Letters & Papers Henry VIII, vol.1 (1920) no. 2469, Leo X to Henry.
  28. ^ a b Dr. Tony Pollard (8 September 2013). "The sad tale of James IV's body". BBC News Scotland. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
  29. ^ Aikman, James, Buchanan's History of Scotland, vol. 2 (1827), 259 note, quoting Stow's Survey of London on St Michael, Cripplegate ward.
  30. ^ Find a Grave — James IV King of Scots
  31. ^ Hay, Denys, Letters of James IV, HMSO (1954), p. 252, 8 December 1533: Mynors, RAB., ed., Collected Works of Erasmus, Adages, vol. 3, Toronto, (1991), pp. 240–43, Adage 2.5.1 Spartam nactus es, trans. English
  32. ^ Adam de Cardonnel, The Edinburgh Magazine, vol. 4, August (1786), p. 112, and Numismata Scotiae, (1786), p. 83, note both legends: Pitscottie, History of Scotland, Glasgow, (1749), p. 214; Spencer, Nathaniel, The Complete English Traveller, (1772), p. 575; Archaeologia Aeliana, vol. 3, (1859), p. 228.
  33. ^ Bain, Joseph, ed., Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland, 1357–1509, vol. 4, HM Register House, Edinburgh (1888), nos. 1681, 1690–1697.
  34. ^ a b The Peerage — James IV
  35. ^ a b c d Nield (1968), p. 61.
  36. ^ Internet Archive, Open library online version of The Yellow Frigate, or The Three Sisters
  37. ^ a b c Nield (1968), p. 67.


  • James the Fourth, Norman Macdougall (2006 with two earlier editions, regarded as definitive).
  • King James IV of Scotland, R.L. Mackie (1958, the most important previous biography).
  • Ashley, Mike (2002). British Kings & Queens. Carroll & Graf. pp. 280–286. ISBN 978-0-7867-1104-8.
  • James IV in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York, 2004, Vol. 29, pp. 609–619

Primary Sources

James IV of Scotland
Born: 17 March 1473 Died: 9 September 1513
Regnal titles
Preceded by
James III
King of Scotland
11 June 1488 – 9 September 1513
Succeeded by
James V
Alexander Stewart, Duke of Ross

Alexander Stewart, Duke of Ross (30 April 1514, Stirling Castle–18 December 1515, Stirling Castle) was the fourth and last son of King James IV of Scotland and his queen Margaret Tudor.

He was born after his father was killed at the Battle of Flodden, during the reign of his infant brother King James V of Scotland.

He died in infancy, but during his short life he was heir presumptive to the throne of the Kingdom of Scotland.

Alexander Stewart (archbishop of St Andrews)

Alexander Stewart (c. 1493 – 9 September 1513) was an illegitimate son of King James IV of Scotland by his mistress Marion Boyd. He was the King's eldest illegitimate child. He was an elder brother of Catherine Stewart,his only full sibling, a half brother to James Stewart, Margaret Stewart and Janet Stewart, the other illegitimate children of James IV and his mistresses. He was an older half-brother of the future James V.

Archibald Campbell, 2nd Earl of Argyll

Gillespie Archibald Campbell, 2nd Earl of Argyll (b. c 1465 - died 9 September 1513) was a Scottish nobleman and politician who was killed at the Battle of Flodden.

Archibald Douglas, 5th Earl of Angus

Archibald Douglas, 5th Earl of Angus (c. 1449 – October 1513), was a Scottish nobleman, peer, politician, and magnate. He became known as "Bell the Cat". He became the most powerful nobleman in the realm through a successful rebellion and established his family as the most important in the kingdom.

Arthur Stewart, Duke of Rothesay

Arthur Stewart, Duke of Rothesay (20 October 1509 – 14 July 1510) was the second son of James IV of Scotland and Margaret Tudor, and had he outlived his father, he would have been King of Scotland.

Great Michael

Michael, popularly known as Great Michael, was a carrack or great ship of the Royal Scottish Navy. She was the largest ship built by King James IV of Scotland as part of his policy of building a strong Scottish navy.

She was ordered around 1505 and laid down in 1507 under the direction of Captain Sir Andrew Wood of Largo and the master shipwright Jacques Terrell, launched on 12 October 1511 and completed on 18 February 1512. She was too large to be built at any existing Scottish dockyard, so was built at the new dock at Newhaven. When Michael was launched she was the largest ship afloat, with twice the original displacement of her English contemporary Mary Rose, which was launched in 1509 and completed in 1510.

The poet William Dunbar wrote of her construction:


The chronicler Lindsay of Pitscottie wrote of the building of Michael that "all the woods of Fife" went into her construction. Account books add that timbers were purchased from other parts of Scotland, as well as from France and the Baltic Sea. Lindsay gives her dimensions as 240 feet (73 m) long and 35 ft (11 m) in beam. Russell (1922) notes that Michael was supposed to have been built with oak walls 10 ft (3.0 m) thick. She displaced about 1,000 tons, had four masts, carried 24 guns (purchased from Flanders) on the broadside, 1 basilisk forward and 2 aft, and 30 smaller guns (later increased to 36 main guns), and had a crew of 300 sailors, 120 gunners, and up to 1,000 soldiers.

Henry VIII of England was unwilling to be outdone, and ordered the building of the 1000-ton Henry Grace à Dieu, launched in roughly 1512, later known as Great Harry, which was even larger. These ships were the first great ships, the precursors of the later ship of the line.

Michael was named after the archangel Michael and built to support a Scottish crusade against the Ottoman Empire to reclaim Palestine for Christendom. This grandiose plan had to be changed when the commitments of the Auld Alliance with France required Scotland to go to war with England, to divert England from her war with Louis XII of France (see the Italian Wars).

In August 1513 a Scottish invasion force was assembled to attack English possessions in France. Commanded by James Hamilton, 1st Earl of Arran, the chief ships were Michael, Margaret and James. Instead of attacking the English, Arran raided Carrickfergus in Ireland and returned with loot before proceeding to France.

A warship of this size was costly to maintain, particularly for a small country like Scotland. After James IV and many of the nobility of Scotland were killed at the Battle of Flodden in September 1513, Michael was sold to Louis XII of France on 2 April 1514 for the bargain price of 40,000 livres and became known as "La Grande Nef d'Ecosse" (The Big Nave of Scotland) (Nave is from the medieval Latin navis, meaning 'ship'). In March 1514 Michael was reported to be docked at Honfleur because she was too big for the harbour at Dieppe. Most historians have accepted the account of the Scottish historian George Buchanan that after this, the French allowed her to rot at Brest. Norman MacDougall in 1991 suggested that under her new French name, she may have been used in the French attack on England in 1545 that led to the sinking of the English warship Mary Rose in the Battle of the Solent on 19 July 1545.

Hours of James IV of Scotland

The Hours of James IV of Scotland, Prayer book of James IV and Queen Margaret (or variants) is an illuminated book of hours, produced in 1503 or later, probably in Ghent. It marks a highpoint of the late 15th century Ghent-Bruges school of illumination and is now in the Austrian National Library in Vienna (Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Codex Vindobonensis 1897). It is thought to have been a wedding gift from James IV of Scotland or another Scottish nobleman to James's wife Margaret Tudor on the occasion of their marriage, perhaps finishing a book already started for another purpose. A number of artists worked on the extensive programme of decoration, so that "the manuscript in its entirety presents a rather odd picture of heterogeneity". The best known miniature, a full-page portrait of James at prayer before an altar with an altarpiece of Christ and an altar frontal with James's coat-of-arms, gave his name to the Master of James IV of Scotland, who is now generally identified as Gerard Horenbout, court painter to Margaret of Austria; he did only one other miniature in the book. The equivalent image of Margaret is the only image by another artist, using a rather generic face for the queen's portrait, and in a similar style to that of the Master of the First Prayer Book of Maximilian. Other artists worked on the other miniatures, which include an unusual series of unpopulated landscapes in the calendar - perhaps the Flemish artists were not sure how Scots should be dressed.

Drawings had evidently been sent to Flanders of James' portrait and the heraldry of the couple, but perhaps not of Margaret. Probably drawings were sent of the panel portraits in Edinburgh of James III of Scotland and his queen Margaret of Denmark by Hugo van der Goes, since the portrait miniatures show similar iconography. After she was widowed Margaret gave the book to her sister Mary Tudor, Queen of France, inscribing it (on f. 188): "Madame I pray your grace / Remember on me when ye / loke upon this bok / Your lofing syster / Margaret". By the time of Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor in the late 17th century it had entered the library of the Austrian Habsburgs in Vienna. It was exhibited in London and Malibu in 2003-2004.

James Hamilton, 1st Earl of Arran

James Hamilton, 1st Earl of Arran and 2nd Lord Hamilton (c. 1475 – 1529) was a Scottish nobleman, naval commander and first cousin of James IV of Scotland.

James Stewart, Duke of Ross

James Stewart, Duke of Ross (March 1476 – January 1504) was the second son of King James III of Scotland and Margaret of Denmark.

Janet Kennedy

Janet Kennedy (c. 1480 – c. 1545), was a Scottish noble, the first daughter of John Kennedy, 2nd Lord Kennedy and Lady Elizabeth Gordon. She is best known as the mistress of King James IV of Scotland.

Janet Stewart, Lady Fleming

Janet Stewart, Lady Fleming (17 July 1502 – 20 February 1562), called la Belle Écossaise (French for "the Beautiful Scotswoman"), was an illegitimate daughter of King James IV of Scotland who served as governess to her half-niece Mary, Queen of Scots. Janet was briefly a mistress of King Henry II of France, by whom she had a legitimated son: Henri d'Angoulême. Her daughter, Mary Fleming, was one of the young queen's "Four Marys".

Margaret Tudor

Margaret Tudor (28 November 1489 – 18 October 1541) was Queen of Scots from 1503 until 1513 by marriage to James IV of Scotland and then, after her husband died fighting the English, she became regent for their son James V of Scotland from 1513 until 1515. She was born at Westminster Palace as the eldest daughter of King Henry VII of England and Elizabeth of York, and granddaughter of Margaret Beaufort, Edward IV of England and Queen Elizabeth Woodville. Margaret Tudor had several pregnancies, but most of her children died young or were stillborn. As queen dowager she married Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus. Through her first and second marriages, respectively, Margaret was the grandmother of both Mary, Queen of Scots, and Mary's second husband, Lord Darnley. Margaret's marriage in 1503 to James IV linked the royal houses of England and Scotland, which a century later resulted in the Union of the Crowns. Upon his ascent to the English throne, Margaret's great-grandson, James VI and I, was the first person to be monarch of both Scotland and England.

Master of James IV of Scotland

The Master of James IV of Scotland (fl. ca. 1485 – ca. 1526) was a Flemish manuscript illuminator and painter most likely based in Ghent, or perhaps Bruges. Circumstantial evidence, including several larger panel paintings, indicates that he may be identical with Gerard Horenbout. He was the leading illuminator of the penultimate generation of Flemish illuminators. The painter's name is derived from a portrait of James IV of Scotland which, together with one of his Queen Margaret Tudor, is in the Prayer book of James IV and Queen Margaret, a book of hours commissioned by James and now in Vienna. He has been called one of the finest illuminators active in Flanders around 1500, and contributed to many lavish and important books besides directing an active studio of his own.

Stylistically, the Master's miniatures are distinguished by their collections of robust and unidealized figures, set against colorful landscapes and detailed interiors. He had a knack for depicting narrative, and would frequently use obscure Biblical images when constructing his paintings; his scenes of daily life, designed for calendar illuminations, are considered particularly vivid. Most importantly, the Master was interested in experimenting with the layout of his drawings on the page. Using various illusionistic elements, he often blurred the line between the miniature and its border, frequently using both in his efforts to advance the narrative of his scenes.

The Master's work is sometimes associated with the work of the Master of the Lübeck Bible. Major works include the "Spinola Hours" in the Getty Museum, "the most pictorially ambitious and original sixteenth-century Flemish manuscript", the Grimani Breviary in Venice, the Holford Hours in Lisbon (1526, probably his last work), the "Rothschild Prayerbook" (or "Hours"), the "Vatican Hours" and two detached miniatures in the Cloisters Museum. On large projects he often collaborated with other masters.

Matthew Stewart, 2nd Earl of Lennox

Matthew Stewart, 2nd Earl of Lennox (1460 – 9 September 1513, was a prominent Scottish nobleman. Stewart was the son of John Stewart, 1st Earl of Lennox, and Margaret Montgomerie, daughter of Alexander Montgomerie, 1st Lord Montgomerie. He died fighting in the Battle of Flodden Field.

He married firstly, on 13 June 1490, Margaret Lyle, daughter of Robert Lyle, Lord Lyle. On 9 April 1494, he married Elizabeth Hamilton, daughter of James Hamilton, 1st Lord Hamilton, and Mary Stewart, Princess of Scotland, daughter of King James II of Scotland.

Stewart and Elizabeth Hamilton had six children: Mungo Stewart, Agnes Stewart, John Stewart, 3rd Earl of Lennox, Margaret Stewart, Elizabeth Stewart, and Catherine Stewart.

He was Lord Provost of Glasgow in 1497, and from 1509–1513.

Patrick Hepburn, 1st Earl of Bothwell

Patrick Hepburn, 1st Earl of Bothwell (died 18 October 1508) was Lord High Admiral of Scotland. He rose to political prominence after supporting James IV against his father, and was proxy at the King's marriage.

Robert Blackadder

Robert Blackadder was a medieval Scottish cleric, diplomat and politician, who was abbot of Melrose, bishop-elect of Aberdeen and bishop of Glasgow; when the last was elevated to archiepiscopal status in 1492, he became the first ever archbishop of Glasgow. Archbishop Robert Blackadder died on 28 July 1508, while en route to Jerusalem on pilgrimage.

Robert Cockburn

Robert Cockburn (died 1526) was a 16th-century Scottish diplomat and cleric.

Robert Cockburn was the third son of William Cockburn of Skirling and Cessford and Marion daughter of Lord Crichton of Sanquhar.Cockburn was a university graduate, and appears for the first time in 1501 when he was presented to James IV of Scotland for the position of parson of Dunbar, being styled "Master Robert Cockburn, dean of Rouen". Cockburn was later praised for his skill in the Latin language.He became Bishop of Ross in 1507, by which time he was holding the position of Chancellor of the diocese of Dunkeld. He had received crown nomination to the bishopric on either March or May, and was provided to the see on 9 July. Cockburn was a chaplain to Louis XII of France and acted as a diplomat for James IV of Scotland. On 10 July 1507, Louis asked Cockburn to request 4,000 Scottish troops to assist in the defence of the French possession, the Duchy of Milan. In October James replied that he would send military support if warned in advance, and Cockburn was instructed to discuss another project. This was probably the Scottish king's plans for a crusade. Cockburn carried similar messages in 1512, in the crisis that culminated for Scotland in the Battle of FloddenRobert spent most of 1515 in France as an ambassador for the government of King James V of Scotland (still a minor). In May 1517 he was sent to France with Patrick Paniter to re-negotiate the Auld Alliance. This negotiation lead to Treaty of Rouen. In 1524, he was in England as one of three ambassadors sent by the Scottish government to agree a truce. It was in that year, on 27 April, that Robert was translated to the bishopric of Dunkeld.Robert became friends with Cardinal Wolsey, and wrote to him in February 1525 describing the political situation in Scotland. Regent Albany, having left Scotland for France, was still influential and his Dunbar Castle strongly fortified, while Cockburn's ride to England had brought him enemies. In May he addressed a short note to the English ambassador Dr Thomas Magnus, as "my hertly gud frend and broder."He was Bishop of Dunkeld for only two years, dying on 12 April 1526. He was buried in the choir of Dunkeld Cathedral.

William Dunbar

William Dunbar (born 1459 or 1460–died by 1530) was a Scottish makar poet active in the late fifteenth century and the early sixteenth century. He was closely associated with the court of King James IV and produced a large body of work in Scots distinguished by its great variation in themes and literary styles. He was likely a native of East Lothian, as assumed from a satirical reference in The Flyting of Dumbar and Kennedie. His surname is also spelled Dumbar.

William Elphinstone

William Elphinstone (1431 – 25 October 1514) was a Scottish statesman, Bishop of Aberdeen and founder of the University of Aberdeen.

Ancestors of James IV of Scotland
8. James I of Scotland
4. James II of Scotland
9. Joan Beaufort
2. James III of Scotland
10. Arnold, Duke of Guelders
5. Mary of Guelders
11. Catherine of Cleves
1. James IV of Scotland
12. Dietrich, Count of Oldenburg
6. Christian I of Denmark
13. Helvig of Schauenburg
3. Margaret of Denmark
14. John, Margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach
7. Dorothea of Brandenburg
15. Barbara of Saxe-Wittenberg
Monarchs of the Picts
Monarchs of the Scots
EnglishScottish and British monarchs

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