Scotlands History

Marie de Guise (1515-1560)

After his first French wife (Madeleine of Valois) died, James V planned a second marriage to cement the renewed Auld Alliance. He chose Marie de Guise - a widow with two sons from a brief but happy marriage.

While James V was negotiating for Marie’s hand he had to contend with competition from his uncle, Henry VIII of England. Henry was looking for another wife – he had divorced his first wife Catherine of Aragon, beheaded his second wife Anne Boleyn, and his third wife, Jane Seymour, had died just after giving birth.

Henry’s record of failed marriages meant that Marie’s father refused him and accepted James. Marie de Guise was initially unwilling but relented when James wrote to her directly.

Marie and James had two sons who both died, and one daughter, Mary I (Mary Queen of Scots). Marie de Guise was appointed Regent in 1554, taking over from James Hamilton, 2nd Earl of Arran. 

Marie de Guise was Catholic. The rise of the Scottish Protestants threatened her position. When she called on her family in France for help this was seen as proof that she was not loyal to Scotland. She was deposed as regent in 1559.

  • Portrait of Marie de Guise
  • Image of a carving of Mary of Guise

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