Who Was … Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox?

Margaret Douglas was the mother-in-law of Mary Queen of Scots, the mother of Henry, Lord Darnley. She was also the granddaughter of Henry VII, niece to Henry VIII. She was in trouble with Henry VIII twice due to her love affairs with two different members of the Howard family. She was sent to the Tower before being married to the Earl of Lennox to seal a Scottish alliance. Margaret had also been a part of Cardinal Wolsey’s household and that of Princess Mary.

Name: Margaret Douglas / Margaret Stewart

Title/s: Countess of Lennox

Birth: 7 October 1515 at Harbottle Castle, Northumberland, England

Death: 7 March 1578 in Hackney, London, England

Burial: Westminster Abbey, London, England

Spouse: Matthew Stewart, 4th Earl of Lennox 1516-1571

Children: Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley 1545-1567 / Charles Stuart 1st Earl of Lennox 1557-1576

Parents: Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus 1489-1557 & Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scotland 1489-1541

Siblings: James V 1512-1542 (half-brother)

Noble Connections: Margaret was the niece of Henry VIII through his mother, Margaret Tudor. This meant that she was also the granddaughter of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. She was also the mother-in-law of Mary Queen of Scots, as her son, Lord Darnley, married her as her second husband. Margaret had a prominent position at the English court so would have been acquainted with much of the English nobility.

Controversy: The main controversy surrounding Margaret Douglas is her role in the marriage of her son, Henry, Lord Darnley, to Mary Queen of Scots. There is also a question over her love affair with Thomas Howard, who died in the Tower in 1537 and, a couple of years later, her love affair with his nephew, Charles Howard.

Works of Fiction:


Portrayals on Screen:

  • Nola Augustson, Reign, 2017, 9 episodes

Further Reading:

  • Mary McGrigor – The Other Tudor Princess: Margaret Douglas (2015)
  • Morgan Ring – So High a Blood: The Story of Margaret Douglas, the Tudor That Time Forgot (2017)
  • Sylvia Barbara Soberton – The Forgotten Tudor Women: Margaret Douglas, Mary Howard and Mary Shelton (2015)
  • Alison Weir – The Lost Tudor Princess: A Life of Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox (2016)

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