countess of Lennox Margaret Douglas


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B. 8 Oct. 1515, da. of Archibald Douglas, earl of Angus, and Margaret Tudor; m. Matthew Stewart, earl of Lennox, 6 July 1544; issue: Henry, Henry, 1s., 3 das., Charles; d. Hackney, 9 Mar. 1578; bur. Westminster abbey.

Niece to Henry VIII and half-sister of James V, Margaret Douglas became all too aware of the hazards of close proximity to two crowns. Her first imprisonment in the Tower arose from betrothal to Sir Thomas Howard (Anne Boleyn's uncle), whom Henry thought was aiming for the throne. Eventually serving two princesses and some of Henry's queens, her marriage was arranged by Henry to his ally, Matthew Lennox, and their eldest surviving son, Henry Darnley, became the focus for their ambitions. In favour during Mary I's reign, but subsequently retiring to Yorkshire, Margaret Lennox's outspokenness and the probability of catholic intrigues led to confinement at Sheen, but Lennox was subsequently allowed to return to Scotland, with Margaret remaining at the English court as surety. A further spell in the Tower followed her son's marriage to Mary Stewart (1565), but she regained liberty after his murder, and supported her husband as regent to the young James VI. Her third sojourn in the Tower resulted from the precipitate marriage of her son Charles to the daughter of ‘Bess of Hardwick’, whose husband, the earl of Shrewsbury, was custodian to the imprisoned Mary, queen of Scots, and Elizabeth suspected intrigue. Although Margaret was pardoned before Charles's death in 1577, she died soon after in poverty. A woman of forceful character and ambition, the desire to see her line unite both thrones was fulfilled only posthumously.

Subjects: British History.

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