A collector of ancient furniture has discovered what is identified as an oak chest from Tudor times, that was a wedding gift made for the marriage of James IV of Scotland and Margaret Tudor.
James IV, who is widely regarded as one of the most successful Scottish Kings, married the daughter of the English King Henry VII, Margaret Tudor in 1503. The pair was married by proxy in London, on the same day that the Treaty of Perpetual Peace, an agreement to stop intermittent fighting, was signed between England and Scotland. In many ways, James and Margaret’s marriage was viewed as a sign of peace between the two ruling families.
The couple married in person in August 1503, at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. The wedding was dubbed as the marriage of the “Thistle and the Rose” (The thistle was the emblem of the King of Scots, whilst a red and white rose was the emblem of the Tudor dynasty).
While the couple had six children, only one of them, the future King James V, survived to adulthood. However, this union between the houses of Tudor and Stewart would culminate in the Union of Crowns a hundred years later, which saw Scottish King James VI ascend the English throne as James I, and through Margaret, the Tudor dynasty was continued in the maternal line.
The chest was acquired by amateur collector Aidan Harrison, who believed it to have been from the wedding that took place over five centuries ago. Professor Jane Geddes, a leading art historian from the University of Aberdeen, was able to confirm its provenance. She said: “Aidan came to me and said ‘I think I’ve got something rather exciting here’, and he most certainly did. The carving and woodwork strongly point towards its creation for the wedding of King James IV and Margaret.”
“A wooden chest was one of the most important items of medieval furniture, because aristocratic families spent so much time travelling with pack-horses all around the country to their various homes,” she added. “Queen Margaret would have treasured her private prayer-book and tucked her personal possessions into the box.”
The wooden chest was displayed at the annual conference of the British Archaeological Association this week, and it is hoped that it will soon be available for public viewing in Scotland.
This marriage chest is the second piece of Tudor furniture to be discovered this year. In March, historians identified a royal bed that could have belonged to Margaret’s parents, King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York.