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The Reign of James IV, 1488-1513

James IV is often described as a successful Renaissance king. He put down rebellions in the Borders, subdued the Highlands and brought Scotland under his control. The economy flourished during his reign with Scottish cloth and fish being sold in Europe. Fine silks and wine were imported from France and the Netherlands. Merchants and craftsmen settled in Scotland and brought new ideas and skills from abroad. James increased the size of the navy and built a fleet of armed ships, the most famous being the Great Michael, the largest vessel of its time, completed in 1512. He was interested in architecture and built comfortable palaces at Holyrood in Edinburgh and at Falkland in Fife, and added great halls to both Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle to make them more comfortable residences.

He promoted education and the arts. The University of Aberdeen was founded in 1495 with the creation of King’s College. It was the first university in Britain to set up a chair of medicine, and in 1506, the king went on to grant a charter to the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh. The following year, James issued a royal charter granting a licence to Chapman and Millar to set up the first printing press in the burgh with a 14 year monopoly to sell their books across Scotland.

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Death of James II. Succeeded by James III, aged 9, whose mother, Mary of Gueldres, acted as regent.


James III took over the throne, aged 18. Later married Princess Margaret of Denmark.


17 March: birth of their son, James.


22 August: Henry VII crowned king of England.


11 June: James III killed at the battle of Sauchieburn.
24 June: James IV crowned king of Scotland at Scone.


James IV brought the Lord of the Isles under control.


James IV and Henry VII signed the Treaty of Perpetual Peace.


8 August: James IV married Margaret Tudor, elder daughter of Henry VII, at Holyrood - a marriage between the 'Thistle and the Rose'.


21 April: death of Henry VII and succession of Henry VIII, aged 17.


12 October: Launch of the Great Michael.


10 April: birth of James V.


James IV excommunicated by Pope Leo X.
9 September: death of James IV at the battle of Flodden. Succeeded by his infant son, James V. His mother, Margaret Tudor, was regent until her re-marriage in 1514 when she was replaced by the Duke of Albany, the cousin of James IV.


Treaty of Rouen between Scotland and France. Drawn up by the Duke of Albany on behalf of the king, agreeing to the future marriage of James V to a daughter of King Francis I of France.


Start of James V's personal reign.




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