Scotlands History

James V (1512-1542)

Born in 1512, the infant James V became King in 1513. He reigned via regents until 1528, and then in his own right until his death, aged only 30, in December 1542.

James fathered no fewer than nine illegitimate children, he had two wives, two sons who both died and one legitimate daughter, Mary I (Mary Queen of Scots), who would inherit his throne when she was only six days old.

James took full control in 1528, having escaped virtual imprisonment at the hands of his stepfather, Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus. His first move was to remove Douglas.

James spent considerable sums of money building at Stirling Castle and Falkland, Linlithgow and Holyrood Palaces. He subdued the border rebels and the chiefs of the Western Isles. He renewed the Auld Alliance by marrying Madeleine of Valois but she died six months later. He then married a second French noble, Marie de Guise.

On 25 November 1542 the Scots were defeated at the Battle of Solway Moss by the forces of Henry VIII. King James V died just a few weeks later on 14 December. He had just heard of the birth of his daughter, Mary.

It is said that James recalled that the Stuarts had gained the crown through Marjorie, daughter of King Robert the Bruce - he turned his face to the wall of his bedchamber in Falkland Palace and said 'It came from a woman, and it will end in a woman.'

  • Portrait of James V
  • Painting of soldiers in helmets with Scottish flags trying to move a cannon across a river

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