On this day in 1473 – King James IV was born

On 17th March 1473 the future King James IV of Scotland was born to King James III and Margaret of Denmark. The location of his birth is most likely to be Stirling Castle.

At a young age the heir apparent was proclaimed Duke of Rothesay and was betrothed to marry Princess Cecily of England, the third daughter of King Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville.

King James III of Scotland was killed in the Battle of Sauchieburn in 1488 leaving the 15 year old prince the new King of Scotland. The Battle of Sauchieburn saw James III face a rebellion which used the young prince as their figurehead. The new King felt guilty over his indirect role in his father’s death and for the rest of his life at Lent he wore a heavy iron chain cilice around his waist, adding weight every year, as penance.

King James IV was involved in many arguments with the English court, including the backing of Perkin Warbeck, the pretender to the Plantagenet line. James even went as far as invading England in 1496.

In 1502 James signed the Treaty of Perpetual Peace with King Henry VII in a bid to end warfare between the two countries. As part of the treaty a marriage proposal between James IV and Margaret Tudor, daughter of the King of England, was agreed. Whilst agreeing to peace with England, James also maintained a relationship with France and began building a fleet that would defend Scotland and give them a large maritime presence.

King James IV married Margaret Tudor on 8th August 1503 at Holyrood Abbey, Edinburgh. They had four living children including the future King James V. James IV also had eight illegitimate children with four of his mistresses.

The Italian Wars broke out in 1494 and lasted until 1559; it saw many countries involved from Italy and France to England and Scotland. As a result war broke out between England and France. Scotland was tied to both countries through treaties but declared war on England after Henry VIII invaded France. Pope Leo X threatened James with ecclesiastical censure for breaking his treaty with England and was later excommunicated by Cardinal Christopher Bainbridge.

In September 1513 Scottish troops invaded England and headed towards Northumbria where they clashed with English forces on the 9th September. The English troops were under the leadership of Katherine of Aragon who was Regent of England whilst her husband Henry VIII was fighting in France. King James IV was killed in the battle and was the last King of Great Britain to die in battle. His body was taken to London for burial, however due to his excommunication King Henry VIII had to gain permission from the Pope to bury the Scottish King. He was never buried though; his embalmed body lay unburied for many years with his body going missing during the Reformation when Sheen Priory in Surrey, where he was lying, was demolished.

James IV

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