Margaret Tudor by Melanie Clegg

During the Nonfiction November reading event last year, I managed to read three non-fictions: The Golden Antilles by Tim Severin, Stalin: A Very Brief History by Mark Black and finally this, a history ofΒ Margaret Tudor by new-to-me author, Melanie Clegg, which was published in 2018.

I was really interested to read this history of Margaret Tudor – the eldest daughter of Henry VII, and his wife, Elizabeth of York; wife of James IV of Scotland; mother to James V; grandmother of Mary, Queen of Scots; and great-grandmother to James VI/I – because she is a figure I feel has been unfairly overlooked and obscured in the long shadow of her more infamous brother, Henry VIII. And yet it turns out she had big role to play in the future joint monarchy of England and Scotland; and it would appear the same poor judgement in love and disastrous marriages as both her brother and her future granddaughter!

Unfortunately, it all seems to have started when she was still young: As the eldest daughter of the new Tudor dynasty much was expected of Margaret, and while she was pretty, with long red hair, intelligent and tried so very hard, she had neither the charisma or easy charm of her younger brother, Henry, or the natural grace or striking beauty of her younger sister, Mary. In consequence, she was mainly judged as wanting by the nobles and ambassadors that met her, although she does seem to have been well loved by her family.

So much so, her father, Henry VII arranged for her a splendid marriage to James IV of Scotland, making her a queen and given her the important task of helping bring peace between these two, long-feuding nations. Henry lavished gifts upon the young bride and sent her progressing north to her new home in great state. On arrival in Scotland, she was to find James was a handsome and enlightened prince, and he was to be a kind and generous husband.

Sadly, it was all to be spoilt, as per usual, by Margaret’s brother, Henry when he took the English throne. No writing or pleading from Margaret, or goodwill and patience from James could seem to please the petulant English king and the peace accord ended. And most tragic of all James would be killed in the subsequent fighting, only ten years after their great union, leaving Margaret a young, vulnerable widow and their only-surviving, infant son upon the throne.

What follows, reads like one of the best, historical melodramas, as Margaret is time and time again betrayed and forsaken by her brother; makes two ill-judged marriages to men, who steal her money and cheat on her; and battles several plots to take control of her and her son. All of which is told brilliantly by the author, Melanie Clegg with a clear, detailed and impassioned narrative, which while it is non-fiction, flows really well and swept me away in all the drama.

Now I could continue to wax lyrical about this book forever, so I will stop here before I bore you! Needless to say I thought this history of Margaret Tudor was fascinating: an educational and entertaining account of this overlooked but important woman. I would be interested to read more about Margaret and read more books by Melanie Clegg, too! Great read.

Thank you to the publishers, Pen & Sword for providing a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

I’d love to hear your thoughts: Have you read this? What do you think? Have you read any other books about Margaret Tudor?


This was book #3 for Nonfiction November 2019.

10 thoughts on “Margaret Tudor by Melanie Clegg

  1. Sounds great! I find all those Jameses so confusing, so it might be easier to approach it from the female side – although there were an awful lot of Margarets and Marys too! No consideration for future generations trying to learn history… πŸ˜‰

  2. I enjoyed this too and thought it was a great introduction to Margaret Tudor, who I didn’t know much about before reading this book. She had such a dramatic and tragic life, didn’t she? I would like to read more about her too, as well as more Melanie Clegg books. πŸ™‚

    1. Yes Helen, for someone relatively forgotten it was surprising what a dramatic and tragic life she had! You’d think she’s be better remembered for that if nothing else! I hope we’re both able to read more about her and get our hands on more of Melanie Clegg’s books, too. πŸ˜€

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