Madeleine of Valois

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Madeleine of Valois
Madeleine de Valois by Corneille de la Haye
Queen consort of Scotland
Tenure1 January 1537 – 7 July 1537
Born10 August 1520
Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France
Died7 July 1537(1537-07-07) (aged 16)
Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh, Scotland
(m. 1537)
FatherFrancis I of France
MotherClaude, Duchess of Brittany

Madeleine of Valois (10 August 1520 – 7 July 1537) was a French princess who briefly became Queen of Scotland in 1537 as the first wife of King James V. The marriage was arranged in accordance with the Treaty of Rouen, and they were married at Notre-Dame de Paris in January 1537, despite French reservations over her failing health. Madeleine died in July 1537, only six months after the wedding and less than two months after arriving in Scotland, resulting in her nickname, the "Summer Queen".

Early life[edit]

Madeleine (back right) with her mother and sisters, from the Book of Hours of Catherine de'Medici.

Madeleine was born at the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France, the fifth child and third daughter of King Francis I of France and Claude, Duchess of Brittany, herself the eldest daughter of King Louis XII of France and Anne, Duchess of Brittany.

She was frail from birth, and grew up in the warm and temperate Loire Valley region of France, rather than at Paris, as her father feared that the cold would destroy her delicate health. Together with her sister, Margaret, she was raised by her aunt, Marguerite de Navarre until her father remarried and his new wife, Eleanor of Austria, took them into her own household.[1] By her sixteenth birthday, she had contracted tuberculosis.[citation needed]

Marriage negotiations[edit]

Three years before Madeleine's birth, the Franco-Scottish Treaty of Rouen was made to bolster the Auld Alliance after Scotland's defeat at the Battle of Flodden. A marriage between a French princess and the Scottish King was one of its provisions. In April 1530, John Stewart, Duke of Albany, was appointed commissioner to finalize the royal marriage between James V and Madeleine.[2] However, as Madeleine did not enjoy good health, another French bride, Mary of Bourbon, was proposed.[3]

James V contracted to marry Mary of Bourbon, and travelled to France in 1536 to meet her, but smitten with the delicate Madeleine, he asked Francis I for her hand in marriage. Fearing the harsh climate of Scotland would prove fatal to his daughter's already failing health, Francis I initially refused to permit the marriage.[4]

James V continued to press Francis I for Madeleine's hand, and despite his reservations and nagging fears, Francis I reluctantly granted permission to the marriage only after Madeleine made her interest in marrying James very obvious. The court moved from Amboise to the Château de Blois, and the marriage contract was signed on 26 November 1536.[5] They were married on 1 January 1537 at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. There was a banquet that night in the Louvre Palace.[6]

Francis I also provided Madeleine with a generous dowry of 100,000 écu, and a further 30,000 francs settled on James V. According to the marriage contract made at Blois, Madeleine renounced her and any of her heirs' claims to the French throne. If James died first, Madeleine would retain for her lifetime assets including the Earldoms of Fife, Strathearn, Ross, and Orkney with Falkland Palace, Stirling Castle, and Dingwall Castle, with the Lordship of Galloway and Threave Castle.[7]

Coat of arms of Madeleine of Valois as Queen consort of Scots

Queen of Scots[edit]

In March the couple moved Compiègne then stayed two nights at the Château de La Roche-Guyon. After months of festivities and celebrations, the couple left France for Scotland in May 1537. On 15 May English sailors sold fish to the Scottish and French fleet off Bamburgh Head.[8] Madeleine's health deteriorated even further, and she was very sick when the royal pair landed in Scotland. They arrived at Leith at 10 o'clock on Whitsun-eve, 19 May 1537.[9]

According to John Lesley the ships were laden with her possessions;

"besides the Quenes Hienes furnitour, hinginis, and appareill, quhilk wes schippit at Newheavin and careit in Scotland, was also in hir awin cumpanye, transportit with hir majestie in Scotland, mony costlye jewells and goldin wark, precious stanis, orient pearle, maist excellent of any sort that was in Europe, and mony coistly abilyeaments for hir body, with mekill silver wark of coistlye cupbordis, cowpis, & plaite."[10]

A list or inventory of wedding presents from Francis I also survives, including Arras tapestry, cloths of estate, rich beds, two cupboards of silver gilt plate, table carpets, and Persian carpets.[11][12]

Some of her French courtiers came with her to Scotland and are included among the eleven named members of her household; her former governess, Anne de Boissy, Madame de Montreuil; Madame de Bren; her secretary, Jean de Langeac, Bishop of Limoges; master household, Jean de St Aubin; squire or valet Charles de Marconnay; the physician Master Partix; pages John Crammy and Pierre de Ronsard; furrier Gillan; butcher John Kenneth; barber Anthony.[13][14]


Madeleine wrote to her father from Edinburgh on 8 June 1537 saying that she was better and her symptoms had diminished. James V had written to Francis I asking him to send the physician Master Francisco, and Madeleine wrote that he was now needed only to perfect her cure. She signed this letter "Magdalene de France".[15] However, a month later, on 7 July 1537, (a month before her 17th birthday), Madeleine, the so-called "Summer Queen" of Scots, died in her husband's arms at Holyrood Palace.[16] James V wrote to Francis I informing him of his daughter's death.[17]

Queen Madeleine was interred in Holyrood Abbey in Edinburgh, next to King James II of Scotland. Black mourning clothes were worn at her funeral, and an order was sent to the merchants of Dundee to provide black cloth. Her household servants were provided with "dule gowns", and horses at the procession had black cloths and trappings.[18] The grave was desecrated by a mob in 1776 and her allegedly still beautiful head was stolen.[19]

An inventory made of the king's goods in 1542 includes some of her clothes, furnishings for her chapel, and gold cups and other items made for her when she was a child.[20]


Madeleine's marriage and death was commemorated by the poet David Lyndsay's Deploration of Deith of Quene Magdalene; the poem describes the pageantry of the marriage in France and Scotland:

O Paris! Of all citeis principall!
Quhilk did resave our prince with laud and glorie,
Solempnitlie, throw arkis triumphall. [arkis = arches]
* * * * * *
Thou mycht have sene the preparatioun
Maid be the Thre Estaitis of Scotland
In everilk ciete, castell, toure, and town
* * * * * *
Thow saw makand rycht costlie scaffalding
Depaynted weill with gold and asure fyne
* * * * * *
Disagysit folkis, lyke creaturis devyne,
On ilk scaffold to play ane syndrie storie
Bot all in greiting turnit thow that glorie. [greiting = crying: thow = death][21]

Less than a year after her death, her husband married the widowed Mary of Guise, who had attended his wedding to Madeleine. Twenty years later, listed amongst the treasures in Edinburgh Castle were two little gold cups, an agate basin, a jasper vase, and crystal jug given to Madeleine when she was a child in France.[22]



  1. ^ Rosalind Marshall, Scottish Queens, 1034-1714 (John Donald: Edinburgh, 2003), p. 101.
  2. ^ Hay, Denys, Letters of James V (HMSO: Edinburgh, 1954), pp. 43–44, 51–52, 170.
  3. ^ Rosalind Marshall, Scottish Queens, 1034-1714 (John Donald: Edinburgh, 2003), p. 101.
  4. ^ Rosalind Marshall, Scottish Queens, 1034-1714 (John Donald: Edinburgh, 2003), pp. 102-3.
  5. ^ Rosalind Marshall, Scottish Queens, 1034-1714 (John Donald: Edinburgh, 2003), p. 104.
  6. ^ Rosalind Marshall, Scottish Queens, 1034-1714 (John Donald: Edinburgh, 2003), pp. 105-6.
  7. ^ Hay, Denys, Letters of James V (HMSO: Edinburgh, 1954), pp. 325–6.
  8. ^ James Balfour Paul, Accounts of the Treasurer of Scotland, vol. 7 (Edinburgh, 1907), pp. 19, 24.
  9. ^ State Papers Henry VIII, vol. 5 part 4 cont., (London, 1836), p. 79.
  10. ^ Thomson, Thomas ed., John Lesley's History of Scotland (Bannatyne Club, 1830), p. 299.
  11. ^ Guthrie, William, General History of Scotland, vol. 5 (1767), p. 166: "The Historical works of Sir James Balfour", vol. 1 (Edinburgh, 1824), pp. 266–267: NLS Adv. MS 33:2:15.
  12. ^ Rosalind K. Marshall, Scottish Queens: 1034-1714 (John Donald: Edinburgh, 2007), p. 106.
  13. ^ Andrea Thomas, Princelie Majestie (John Donald: Edinburgh, 2005), p. 45.
  14. ^ Rosalind K. Marshall, Scottish Queens: 1034-1714 (John Donald: Edinburgh, 2007), pp. 106-107.
  15. ^ Denys Hay, Letters of James V (HMSO: Edinburgh, 1954), pp. 331–2.
  16. ^ Rosalind Marshall, Scottish Queens, 1034-1714 (John Donald: Edinburgh, 2003), p. 108.
  17. ^ Denys Hay, Letters of James V (HMSO: Edinburgh, 1954), pp. 333-334.
  18. ^ Perin Westerhof Nyman, 'Mourning Madeleine and Margaret: Dress and Meaning in the Memorials for Two Scottish Queens, 1537 and 1541', Scottish Historical Review, 100:3 (December 2021), pp. 359-377.
  19. ^ Grants Old and New Edinburgh
  20. ^ Thomas Thomson, Collection of Inventories (Edinburgh, 1815), pp. 58, 63: Rosalind Marshall, Scottish Queens, 1034-1714 (John Donald: Edinburgh, 2003), p. 108: Bruce Lenman, 'Jacobean Goldsmith-Jewellers as Credit-Creators: The Cases of James Mossman, James Cockie and George Heriot', Scottish Historical Review, 74:198 part (October 1995), p. 165.
  21. ^ Hadley Williams, Janet ed., Sir David Lyndsay, Selected Poems (ASLS: Glasgow, 2000), pp. 101–108, 260–266.
  22. ^ Thomson, Thomas, A Collection of Inventories, Bannatyne Club (1815), p. 63.
  23. ^ a b Knecht, R.J. (1984). Francis I. Cambridge University Press. pp. 1–2.
  24. ^ a b Anselme de Sainte-Marie, Père (1726). Histoire généalogique et chronologique de la maison royale de France [Genealogical and chronological history of the royal house of France] (in French). Vol. 1 (3rd ed.). Paris: La compagnie des libraires. pp. 134–136.
  25. ^ a b c d e Adams, Tracy (2010). The Life and Afterlife of Isabeau of Bavaria. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 255.
  26. ^ a b c Gicquel, Yvonig [in French] (1986). Alain IX de Rohan, 1382–1462: un grand seigneur de l'âge d'or de la Bretagne (in French). Éditions Jean Picollec. p. 480. ISBN 9782864770718. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  27. ^ a b Jackson-Laufer, Guida Myrl (1999). Women Rulers Throughout the Ages: An Illustrated Guide. ABC-CLIO. p. 231. ISBN 9781576070918.
  28. ^ a b c d Wilson, Katharina M. (1991). An Encyclopedia of Continental Women Writers. Taylor & Francis. p. 258. ISBN 9780824085476. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  29. ^ a b Robin, Diana Maury; Larsen, Anne R.; Levin, Carole (2007). Encyclopedia of Women in the Renaissance: Italy, France, and England. ABC-CLIO. p. 20. ISBN 978-1851097722.
  30. ^ a b Palluel-Guillard, André. "La Maison de Savoie" (in French). Conseil Savoie Mont Blanc. Archived from the original on 8 July 2014. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  31. ^ a b Leguai, André (2005). "Agnès de Bourgogne, duchesse de Bourbon (1405?–1476)". Les ducs de Bourbon, le Bourbonnais et le royaume de France à la fin du Moyen Age [The dukes of Bourbon, the Bourbonnais and the kingdom of France at the end of the Middle Ages] (in French). Yzeure: Société bourbonnaise des études locales. pp. 145–160.
  32. ^ a b Anselme 1726, p. 207
  33. ^ a b Desbois, François Alexandre Aubert de la Chenaye (1773). Dictionnaire de la noblesse (in French). Vol. 6 (2nd ed.). p. 452. Retrieved 28 June 2018.

External links[edit]

Madeleine of Valois
Cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty
Born: 10 August 1520 Died: 7 July 1537
Scottish royalty
Title last held by
Margaret of England
Queen consort of Scots
Title next held by
Mary of Guise