31 December 2017

Book Review ~ Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scots: The Life of King Henry VIII's Sister, by Sarah-Beth Watkins



New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Sarah-Beth Watkins latest book brings together much of what is known about the life of Henry VII’s daughter, Margaret Tudor. It’s important not to apply the values of today to a father who begins negotiations to marry his daughter off to the King of Scotland – when she was barely six years old. Henry wished to secure peace with the Scots and his daughter’s hand in marriage was a reasonable price to pay, as what better match for her than his neighbouring king?

I was disappointed to see Henry VII called a notorious miser, as he spared no expense providing Margaret with everything she might need in Scotland. Similarly, her paternal grandmother Lady Margaret Beaufort is described as formidable, although I understand they were close – and Lady Margaret delayed the consummation of her granddaughter’s marriage until she reached the age of fourteen. 

The book is subtitled The Life of Henry VIII’s Sister and I was particularly fascinated by the details of Margaret’s relationship with her younger brother. They grew up together yet, once he became king, it seems Henry viewed both his sisters as political assets and never tired of trying to keep their jewels and gold plate for himself. 

Sarah-Beth’s main achievement is to explain the complex world of the Scottish Court, where Margaret’s new husband, King James IV, kept a string of mistresses and made no secret of his illegitimate children. The early portraits of Margaret show her as a fresh-faced, cheerful girl but it’s little surprise that her experiences in Scotland make her bitter in later life - and determined to see her son take his place as the rightful King of Scotland. 

At 141 pages, this highly readable book inevitably raises many interesting questions, and I would have liked more of the analysis in Chapter ten – about Margaret’s legacy. Her son became King James V and her daughter by her second husband, Lady Margaret Douglas, was prominent in the Tudor court and became close to the future Queen Mary I. Margaret’s granddaughter was of course Mary, Queen of Scots. 

I recommend this book to anyone who with an interest in the Tudors, as it will help more people to understand the life of this remarkable woman who was the daughter, sister and mother of kings.

Tony Riches

Disclosure: I was provided with a review copy by the publishers, Chronos Books.
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About the Author

Sarah-Beth Watkins grew up in Richmond, Surrey and began soaking up history from an early age. Her love of writing has seen her articles published in various publications over the past twenty years. Working as a writing tutor, Sarah-Beth has condensed her knowledge into a series of writing guides for Compass Books. Her history works are Ireland's Suffragettes, Lady Katherine Knollys: The Unacknowledged Daughter of King Henry VIII, The Tudor Brandons and Catherine of Braganza. You can find Sarah-Beth on Twitter @SarahBWatkins

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