In 1542, James V of Scotland lay dying in Falkland Palace. He was still only 30, but he had lived a full and rather stressful life. The son of the tempestuous Margaret Tudor, he’d been held captive here for two years by his stepfather, he had sired at least seven illegitimate children, and his first wife, Madeleine of France, had died in his arms only weeks after arriving in Edinburgh.
Now, as he lay ill with a fever, his second wife, Mary of Guise, was giving birth to a child in nearby Linlithgow Palace. They had already lost two infant boys, and another son was dearly hoped for.
When they brought him the news that he had a daughter, he uttered the words which have echoed down the centuries:
“It came wi’ a lass and it will gang wi’ a lass.”
What he meant was that the Scottish crown had…
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