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Uniting the Kingdoms? 1066-1603

 
   

England

Religion, Marriage and Power in Scotland, 1503-1603

Anglo-Scottish relations deteriorated during the reign of Henry VIII, largely because of the English king's hostility to Scotland (despite the marriage of his sister Margaret to James IV of Scotland in 1503). In response, Scotland strengthened its alliance with France, and in 1538 James V married Mary, daughter of Claude de Lorraine, Duke of Guise, a leading French noble.

In 1542 their four-day old daughter, Mary Queen of Scots, acceded to the throne. Conflict ensued as to whether her marriage should bind Scotland closer to France, or to England. In 1547 the English invaded Scotland to enforce an agreement made in Henry VIII's reign, thus launching another protracted war. Nevertheless, Mary Queen of Scots married the DauphinGlossary term - opens in a pop-up window in 1558, and in the following year became queen of France as well as Scotland. She also claimed the throne of England after Elizabeth I's accession.

 

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Battle of Carberry Hill, 15 June 1567

 

Portrait of Elizabeth I

At the same time, the English Reformation, which began in 1536, was making religion a crucial factor in politics for the first time. In Scotland Protestant influence was growing. The fiery preaching of John Knox and the support of Elizabeth I helped to bring the Protestant Lords of the CongregationGlossary term - opens in a pop-up window to power in 1559. By 1560 they had established a council of regents for Queen Mary and expelled the French from Scotland.

Mary attempted to recapture control of Scotland in the summer of 1561, but, after a lengthy civil war, she was defeated and captured. She abdicated in favour of her son James VI in 1567. Imprisoned in England, she remained a focal point for Catholic discontent, although her supporters were finally defeated when English forces captured Edinburgh in April 1573. She herself was executed on 8 February 1587, having been implicated in numerous plots to depose Elizabeth. James VI, however, pursued better relations with England and negotiated a peace agreement - the Treaty of Berwick - in 1586. This paved the way for his accession to the English throne, as James I, in 1603.

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Detail from Robert I of Scotland (the Bruce) and his wife Isobel, daughter of John, Earl of Mar. By kind permission of Sir Francis Ogilvy.
 
Detail from Robert I of Scotland (the Bruce) and his wife Isobel, daughter of John, Earl of Mar. By kind permission of Sir Francis Ogilvy.