Madeleine of Valois

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Madeleine de Valois, Queen consort of Scots

Also Known As: "Queen consort of Scots"
Birthdate: (16)
Birthplace: Chateau St. Germain-en-Laye, Paris, France
Death: July 7, 1537 (16)
Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Lothian, Scotland (Tuberculosis)
Place of Burial: S Croix Abbey, Edinburgh, Scotland
Immediate Family:

Daughter of François I, roi de France and Claude de Valois-Orléans, reine de France
Wife of James V, King of Scots
Sister of Louise de Valois; Charlotte de Valois; François III de Valois, dauphin de France; Henri de Valois-Angoulême-Orleans, II, King of France, duc de Bretagne,; Charles II de Valois, duc d'Orléans and 2 others
Half sister of Louis de Saint-Gelais de Lusignan, baron de La Motte-Saint-Héray and Nicolas d'Estouteville, seigneur de Villecouvin

Managed by: Ofir Friedman
Last Updated:

About Madeleine of Valois

Madeleine of France (August 10, 1520 – July 2, 1537) was the daughter of Francis I of France and Claude of France. She was married to James V of Scotland on January 1, 1537 in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France.

Madeleine got sick with tuberculosis when she went to live in Scotland and died when she was only 16 years old. She is buried in Holyrood Abbey in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Madeleine of Valois (10 August 1520 – 7 July 1537) was a French princess who became Queen of Scots as the first spouse of King James V.

Early life[edit]

Madeleine (back right) with her mother and sisters, from the Book of Hours of Catherine de'Medici. Madeleine was born at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France, the fifth child and third daughter of King Francis I of France and Claude, Duchess of Brittany (daughter of King Louis XII of France and Anne, Duchess of Brittany). Very frail from birth, she 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. This lasted 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.

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 to a French Princess for the Scottish King was one of its provisions. In April 1530, John Stewart, Duke of Albany, was appointed commissioner to finalise 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. Mary of Bourbon would be given a dowry as if she were the French king's daughter.

James V contracted to marry Mary of Bourbon, and travelled to France in 1536 to meet her, but smitten with the delicate Madeleine, asked Francis I for her hand in marriage. Citing her illness and the harsh climate of Scotland, which he feared would prove fatal to his daughter's already failing health, Francis I initially refused to permit the marriage.[3]

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 when Madeleine made her interest in marrying James very obvious. The pair married on 1 January 1537 at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.[4] Francis I also provided Madeleine with a very generous (and much needed) dowry, which considerably boosted the Scottish treasury. 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.[5]

Coat of arms of Madeleine of Valois as Queen consort of Scots Queen of Scots[edit] After months of festivities and celebrations, the couple left France for Scotland in May 1537. By this time, Madeleine's health had 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.[6] 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."[7]

A detailed list of wedding presents from Francis I also survives.[8] Some of her French courtiers came too 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, Charles de Marconnay; doctor, Master Partix; pages John Crammy and Pierre de Ronsard; furrier Gillan; butcher John Kenneth; barber Anthony.[9]

Death[edit] Madeleine wrote to her father from Edinburgh on 8 June 1537 saying that she was better and her symptoms had diminished.[10] 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 Edinburgh, Scotland.

Queen Madeleine was interred in Holyrood Abbey in Edinburgh. 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][11]

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.[12]

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Madeleine of Valois's Timeline

August 10, 1520
Chateau St. Germain-en-Laye, Paris, France
July 7, 1537
Age 16
Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Lothian, Scotland
S Croix Abbey, Edinburgh, Scotland