February 22, 1540 : Scotland has a new Queen

Scotland, summer of 1537. Much sorrow had followed the arrival of Madeleine of Valois, a young and beautiful princess, daughter of Francis I, king of France. In January this same year, she had become wife of James Stuart, fifth of the name and king of Scots, in a joyous celebration in Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. The young couple had stayed several months at the Royal Courts in France, but then it was decided the new Queen should come and meet her new subjects.

Madeleine had never set foot on a ship, let alone crossed the sea and travelled up so far north. Her fragile health was very like her mother’s, Queen Claude, who died at 24, when Madeleine was not even four years old. But the Valois princess was in love with the Scottish king, and so she managed to survive the days and weeks in this uncomfortable wooden vessel given by her father. But once arrived in Scotland, her body failed her, and she died in Edinburgh at only sixteen. All Scotland wept.

Scotland, summer of 1538. Another young woman from France, not a maiden but a widow of 22 and mother of a small son, arrives at the Scottish coast. She had known Madeleine and had been present at her wedding in Notre Dame cathedral. Just a month ago, the young duchess of Longueville, Mary of the house of Guise, had wed the widower king of Scotland through lord Robert Maxwell at her home castle of Châteaudun. Francis, the new duke of Longueville, her three-year old son, had been watching his mother being given to a stranger.

More than a year has passed. Madeleine of Valois had not been crowned – there was no time. The new wife of James Stuart is not a daughter of a king, but almost – Francis I had adopted her and considered her like his daughter. But still, Mary of Guise had to prove herself worthy and become pregnant before she could be sacred Queen of Scotland.

Holyrood Abbey near Edinburgh, February 22, 1539 (1540). Scotland will soon have a new Queen.

… to be continued.

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