James V of Scotland
King of Scots
Reign September 9, 1513December 14, 1542
Coronation September 21 1513
Born April 10 1512
Linlithgow Palace, West Lothian
Died December 14 1542
Falkland Palace
Buried Holyrood Abbey
Predecessor James IV
Successor Mary, Queen of Scots
Consort Madeleine de Valois
Marie of Guise
Royal House Stewart
Father James IV
Mother Margaret Tudor

James V (April 10, 1512December 14, 1542) was King of Scots (September 9, 1513December 14, 1542).

The son of King James IV of Scotland, he was born in April 10, 11 or 15, 1512, at Linlithgow Palace, West Lothian, and was still an infant when his father was killed at the Battle of Flodden Field on September 9, 1513.

He was crowned in the Chapel Royal at Stirling Castle on September 21 1513. During his childhood, the country was ruled by regents, first by his mother, Margaret Tudor (sister of King Henry VIII of England), until she remarried in the following year, and thereafter by John, Duke of Albany, who was himself next in line for the throne after James and his younger brother, the posthumously-born Alexander, Duke of Ross. In 1525 Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus, the young king's stepfather, took custody of James and held him as a virtual prisoner for three years, excercising power on his behalf. James finally escaped in 1528 and assumed the reins of government himself.

His first action as king was to remove Angus from the scene, and he then subdued the Border rebels and the chiefs of the Western Isles. James V increased his royal income by tightening control over the royal estates and from the profits of justice, customs and feudal rights. He also gave his illegitimate sons lucrative benefices, thereby diverting substantial church wealth into his coffers. James spent a large amount of his wealth on building work at Stirling, Falkland, Linlithgow and Holyrood.

James renewed the Auld Alliance with France, and on January 1, 1537, he married Madeleine de Valois, the daughter of King Francis I of France. Following her death a few months later, he proceeded to marry Marie of Guise, the daughter of Claude, 1st Duke of Guise and the widow of Louis of Orleans, Duke of Longueville. Although Mary already had two children from her first marriage, both her sons by James died in infancy.

King James V did not tolerate heresy, and during his reign a number of outspoken supporters of church reform were executed. The most famous of the reformers sentenced to death was Patrick Hamilton who was burned at the stake as a heretic at St Andrews in 1528.

He had two legitimate sons by Marie of Guise, James Stewart, Duke of Rothesay (b. May 22, 1540), and Arthur Stewart, Duke of Albany (b. 1541). However, both died in infancy in April 1541, the second just eight days after his baptism.

The death of his mother in 1541 removed any incentive for keeping peace with England, and James' army was defeated at the Battle of Solway Moss in 1542. The setback affected his health, which had been poor for some time, and he was on his deathbed at Falkland Palace on December 8 when his only living heir, a girl, was born. Before he died, he is reported to have said, "It began with a lass and it will end with a lass". This was a reference to the Stewart dynasty, and how it had come to the throne through Marjorie, the daughter of Robert the Bruce. As it happened, his words came true, although not with his daughter Mary I of Scotland who married a Stewart cousin (Lord Darnley), but with the last monarch of the House of Stewart Anne of Great Britain.

James was succeeded by his infant daughter, Mary, Queen of Scots. He was buried at Holyrood Abbey alongside Madeleine and his sons by Marie de Guise.

James V fathered seven known illegitimate children, three of which were sired before the age of twenty; the seven include Robert Stewart, 1st Earl of Orkney by Euphame Elphinstone and John Stewart (d. 1563 in Inverness) by Elizabeth Carmichael; the families of both were to entangle themselves with the Shetland Islands and with the Bruces of Cultmalindie. James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray, another son (by James' favourite mistress), went on to play an important part in the reigns of Mary, Queen of Scots and James VI.

According to legend James would disguise himself and walk about in Edinbugh at night, using the made-up name Goodman of Ballengeich.


Donaldson, Gordon (1965). Scotland: James V to James VII. Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd.

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