James IV, King of Scotland

   By supporting Yorkist attempts to overthrow HENRY VII and the house of TUDOR, James IV contributed to the continuation of English dynastic strife in the 1490s.
   James became king in June 1488, when his father, JAMES III, was defeated and killed at Sauchieburn by a coalition of rebel magnates. Although he had associated himself with the opposition, James was shocked by his father’s murder. Nonetheless, he was neither willing nor able to pursue the policy of accommodation with England that had in part led to his father’s downfall. By 1489, James was already involved in conspiracies to restore the house of YORK. He received English agents sent from BURGUNDY by MARGARET OF YORK, the sister of EDWARD IV, and messengers from IRELAND, where Yorkist plots were common in the late 1480s. In 1491, James allowed his father’s truce with England to lapse but renewed a treaty with FRANCE that pledged him to attack England if Henry VII attacked France.
   In 1492, the Yorkist pretender Perkin WARBECK, who claimed to be Richard PLANTAGENET, duke of York, the younger son of Edward IV, wrote to James seeking aid. By 1495, Warbeck was in SCOTLAND, where James publicly acknowledged him as duke of York. The king even permitted his kinswoman, Katherine Gordon, to marry Warbeck, an indication that James may actually have believed Warbeck’s claims. If true, this belief did not last long, for by 1496 James was negotiating with the English. Unable to obtain satisfactory terms from Henry VII, who likely balked at any demand for the return of BERWICK, James invaded England on Warbeck’s behalf in September 1496. But Warbeck, who had agreed to restore Berwick and, if successful, to reimburse James for the cost of the campaign, could generate no support in England, and the Scottish invasion ended in failure.
   Disillusioned with Warbeck and now aware of the difficulty of displacing Henry VII, James sent the pretender from Scotland in July 1497. The king then opened a series of negotiations with Henry, which led to a seven-year truce in September 1497 and a formal treaty of peace (the first with England since 1328) in January 1502. The Treaty of Ayton committed James to marry Henry VII’s daughter, Princess Margaret, who became queen of Scotland in August 1503. It was as a result of this marriage that James VI of Scotland, the great-grandson of James IV and the great-great-grandson of Henry VII, became king of England in 1603. Although the Treaty of Ayton reduced the likelihood of Scotland again becoming a haven for Yorkist pretenders, it did not erase hundreds of years of Anglo-Scottish enmity. In 1513, James invaded England while his brother-in-law, Henry VIII, was on campaign in France. Brought to battle at Flodden on 9 September, James IV was slain on the field.
   Further Reading: Macdougall, Norman, James IV (East Lothian:Tuckwell Press, 1997).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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