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.

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Discussion Questions – ‘Three Sisters Three Queens’ by Philippa Gregory


Philippa Gregory 'Three Sisters Three Queens'

  1. Three Sisters, Three Queens opens on the eleven-year-old Princess Margaret, who, while spoiled and materialistic, is a product of her environment. What did you think of the choice to open the novel at this stage of Margaret’s life? What did you think of Margaret? Does it matter if we, the reader, like her?
  • I think it was a conscious choice to show her development through the most traumatic events of her life – the loss of her brother, mother, marriage to the Scots king, and the death of her father and husband.
  • I don’t really like Margaret in this novel – I knew the bare bones of her story but no more, and this doesn’t make me want to read more.
  • Margaret is spoiled all the way through and I don’t think her losses really change her as she continues to just go after what she wants.
  • I don’t think it particularly matters whether we like Margaret or not, as it is about her story and not so much about the character.
  1. Discuss the title of the novel in relation to the characters. Margaret, Katherine, and Mary must navigate their political relationships in addition to their familial relationships. Do you think they would have had stronger bonds with one another without their political responsibility? In what ways did it bring them closer together?
  • Margaret and Mary are sisters by blood and Katherine by marriage so in a sense Katherine is put on the back foot from the beginning.
  • Margaret is isolated from the other two in Scotland while Katherine and Mary are in London.
  • I think they would have had stronger bonds without the politics because Margaret wouldn’t have been sent to Scotland if there wasn’t a need for a political alliance, or Katherine to England, and Flodden wouldn’t have soured relations.
  • Politics brought them together because Katherine and Margaret both lost their husbands, though in different ways.
  • All three enjoyed happy marriages – Margaret to James IV, Katherine to Henry VIII (until it turned sour), and Mary to Charles Brandon.

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