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Margaret Tudor: The Life of Henry VIII's Sister by Melanie Clegg: A Book Review

Margaret Tudor: The Life of Henry VIII's Sister 
Author: Melanie Clegg
Genre: Nonfiction, History, Biography
Publisher: Pen and Sword History
Release Date: 2018
Pages: 224
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: When the thirteen year old Margaret Tudor, eldest daughter of Henry VII and his wife Elizabeth of York, married King James IV of Scotland in a magnificent proxy ceremony held at Richmond Palace in January 1503, no one could have guessed that this pretty, redheaded princess would go on to have a marital career as dramatic and chequered as that of her younger brother Henry VIII.Left widowed at the age of just twenty three after her husband was killed by her brother’s army at the battle of Flodden, Margaret was made Regent for her young son and was temporarily the most powerful woman in Scotland - until she fell in love with the wrong man, lost everything and was forced to flee the country. In a life that foreshadowed that of her tragic, fascinating granddaughter Mary Queen of Scots, Margaret hurtled from one disaster to the next and ended her life abandoned by virtually everyone: a victim both of her own poor life choices and of the simmering hostility between her son, James V and her brother, Henry VIII. 

    My Review: Margaret Tudor is the little known older sister of Henry VIII. When she was thirteen, she married James IV of Scotland, who was sixteen years her senior and had sired many illegitimate children. Despite her husband’s flaws, Margaret was determined to make her marriage work. She eventually gave birth to a prince, who would become Scotland's future king. 

    However, James IV was not satisfied living in the comforts of his castle and began to seek a war with England. Opportunity came when Henry VIII went off to battle in France. James IV waged a war against England but died at the Battle of Flodden. Margaret’s infant son was now the king of Scotland and she was made regent. However, Margaret would realize that her power was fleeting, for she would lose it very quickly. She would spend the rest of her life trying to regain the power she had once wielded.

   Margaret Tudor’s life has always fascinated me. Her story parallels with the story of her granddaughter, Mary, Queen of Scots. Both Margaret and Mary would make fatal mistakes that would lead to tragedies. Margaret’s weakness was trusting in manipulative and deceitful men. For her two later marriages, both of her husbands would spend Margaret’s money on their mistresses leaving Margaret bankrupt. Thus, Margaret was intelligent and desired to be a good queen, but she made bad choices that would cause her to lose her power.

   Overall, this was a comprehensive biography of Margaret Tudor. It portrayed Margaret as a woman who had the capacity to be a strong ruler. The biography is written in an engaging tone, but it is not as good as Sarah-Beth Watkins’s Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scots. This is because Melanie Clegg quickly glosses over Margaret’s time in England and her two later marriages which I believe very important to understanding the queen. Still, this biography is very dramatic and is full of scandals, conspiracies, and political intrigue that will be sure to interest the reader.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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