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July 7, 1537 – Death of Madeleine de Valois (wife to James V of Scotland)

Madeleine de Valois, by Corneille de la Haye (public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Before I get to her death, let me begin with her life. Madeleine was the eldest daughter of Francis I of France; she married James V when she was turned sixteen after having been betrothed to him for her entire life (the Franco-Scottish Treaty of Rouen stipulated that the Scottish King would marry a daughter of the King of France – it was signed in 1517, three years before Madeleine was born).

As Madeleine came closer to marriageable age, worries were expressed about the state of her health. Another French bride was proposed to James: Mary of Bourbon. While technically not what the treaty contemplated, it was deemed close enough because she was the daughter of a “prince of the blood” and old enough to marry immediately (the next daughter of the French king would not turn sixteen for three more years). But when James came to France to formalize the wedding, he fell in love with Madeleine and wanted to marry her. Francis tried to refuse, worried that Scotland’s harsh climate would overcome his daughter, but Madeleine had also fallen in love with James and Francis could not hold out against both.

The wedding festivities and celebrations lasted for months, and the happy couple left France for Scotland in May 1537 bringing with them several ships of possessions – beds, cupboards of silver gilt plate, tapestries, cloths of estate, clothes, and jewels.  The voyage taxed Madeleine’s health, and while she initially felt better once she arrived, she died less than two moths later. A month before her 17th birthday.

That death had a direct impact on the Tudor world: James V still needed a wife, and the terms of the Treaty of Rouen specified a French bride. Francis offered Mary of Guise – the same Mary of Guise that Henry VIII asked to marry after Jane Seymour died in October 1537. The same Mary of Guise who famously turned Henry down saying that her neck was too small…the same Mary of Guise who gave James V his only legitimate heir, the Mary who became queen of Scotland when she was only six days old (I’m going to stop there, because that is a whole new story…several of them!)

Regardless, RIP Madeleine.


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July 7, 1537 - Death of Madeleine de Valois (wife to James V of Scotland)
Published inOn This Day


  1. Barbara Cross-Nicolosi Barbara Cross-Nicolosi

    Thank you, Janet. Yes, poor Madeleine, to die so young. At least she found brief happiness. Happy though that we eventually got dear Mary Queen of Scots.

  2. […] July 7, 1537 – Death of Madeleine de Valois (wife to James V of Scotland) […]

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