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Uniting the Kingdoms? 1066-1603

 
   

England

Marriage Across the Border

Royal marriages were used to reinforce periods of good relations between England and Scotland. On 8 August 1503 Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry VII of England, married James IV of Scotland. This event was of great importance because it brought together the English and Scottish royal houses, and was intended to end the centuries of violent conflict on the border. The envisaged 'perpetual peace', however, did not last even ten years, because of the hostility towards Scotland of Henry VIII, who came to the throne in 1509.

Marriages between gentry families on both sides of the border also took place in peacetime. In 1355, Sir Hugh Dacre, a Cumberland knight, married Lady Elizabeth Douglas. This marriage brought Hermitage Castle in Liddlesdale to Dacre, and pushed English influence across the border. Such connections heightened conflict in time of war, since collecting rents and enforcing lordship was difficult when tenants were the subjects of another king.

 

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James IV and Margaret Tudor

 

The marriages of the Graham family

At a lower social level, the interaction of the reivingGlossary term - opens in a pop-up window families in the marches caused problems for the authorities of both countries. Officials attempted to outlaw contact across the border, which they saw as subversive because it meant that leading men of the riding clansGlossary term - opens in a pop-up window all had close relatives who were subjects of the opposing country. Border letters, however, show that marriage alliances were frequently contracted across the boundary between the two countries.

Marriage was also a way of switching nationalities. Tudor records suggest that many Scots - such as Peter Pierson in 1542 - claimed English nationality on the grounds that they had English wives and children.

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Detail from Robert I of Scotland (the Bruce) and his wife Isobel, daughter of John, Earl of Mar. By kind permission of Sir Francis Ogilvy.
 
Detail from Robert I of Scotland (the Bruce) and his wife Isobel, daughter of John, Earl of Mar. By kind permission of Sir Francis Ogilvy.