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We have a New Web Address!

Thank you all so much for your support for our blogs here at We have moved the main Saints, Sisters, and Sluts blog to a new location.

Don’t worry. All your old bookmarks will still work, but beginning with today’s post, Lou Henry Hoover – Herbert’s True Partner, we will post only at the new site. I hope you will follow us there. Everything looks the same with all the old posts, pages, and fascinating women.

Also, our other blog, SSS News & Notes, and Susan Abernethy’s blog The Freelance History Writer will stay right where they are.

So join us  and continue to enjoy the journey as I try to maintain an actual website :-)

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Thank you again for your support.

Susan Ozmore

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Marie of Guise, Queen of Scotland

Marie of Guise, Queen of Scotland

Marie of Guise was born on November 20, 1515 in the castle of Bar-le-Duc in northeast France. Her father was Claude, Duke of Guise and her mother was Antoinette of Bourbon. The Guises were one of the most powerful families in France being very astute in politics and military concerns. They were to dominate Scottish and French affairs for fifty years. Marie was able to learn all the fundamentals of politics from her family.

Marie was an only child for four years but then many brothers and sisters came along. When she was eleven, she was sent to live with her grandmother, Philippa of Guelders at her home in Pont-à-Mousson where she was educated. She may have been destined for a convent but her uncle Antony, Duke of Lorraine, while visiting his mother, met Marie when she was about fourteen and decided she should not be shut away. Marie was remarkably tall and attractive, had auburn hair, a regal manner, confidence, dignity, maturity, and intelligence and was affable to all classes of people. She easily inspired loyalty. She would be an asset to the family by making a brilliant marriage, maybe even to one of the sons of King Francis I of France. Duke Antony took her to his palace in Nancy for finishing and when she was sixteen, she was presented at court where she lived for the next three years. King Francis liked her and she became friends with his daughters Madeleine and Marguerite. She was admired for her appearance, wit, prudence, high spirits and wisdom.

Parents of Marie of Guise, Claude, Duke of Guise and Antoinette of Bourbon

It was decided in the spring of 1534 Marie was to marry one of three Duke’s in France, Louis, Duke of Longueville. He had extensive estates in Normandy and the valley of the Loire. The wedding took place on August 4, 1534 in the chapel of the royal palace of the Louvre with the King and his family in attendance. The marriage was successful. They lived at court and during the summer they toured around their estates. According to family chronicles, wherever Marie traveled she asked for the names of widows and orphans and elderly people in poverty so she could help them. She visited convents and almshouses, helped children get an education and paid for young girls dowries. Her first son, Francis, was born on October 30, 1535.

In the winter of 1536-37 Marie was back at court to witness the marriage of her friend the Princess Madeleine to King James V of Scotland. The celebrations lasted for weeks. Marie returned to her castle of Châteaudun and she was pregnant again. By June of 1537, her husband had died, probably of smallpox, leaving her a widow at 21. Her son Louis was born on August 4, 1537 but he was to die four months later. Shortly before on July 7, 1537, Queen Madeleine of Scotland had died in the arms of King James V at Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.

King Francis I of France

King James sent word to King Francis his daughter had died and he was seeking a second wife. Francis had no intention of sending another daughter to the cold climate of Scotland and suggested the recently widowed Duchess of Longueville as a possible wife, informing Marie of his plans. She was distressed by the news. Her husband had been dead for two months and she had a young son she would be forced to leave behind to rule his Longueville estates. After being persuaded by her family, in October it was agreed she would marry the Scottish King.

About the same time, King Henry VIII of England’s third wife, Jane Seymour had died after giving birth to a son, the future King Edward VI. Henry was looking for a new wife and heard how attractive and tall the Duchess of Longueville was. When Marie heard of King Henry’s interest in her as a new wife and her height, she exclaimed “I may be big in person, but my neck is small”, probably in reference to Anne Boleyn’s comment on her own small neck before her execution.

With Marie intervening in the negotiations of her marriage contract herself, she got favorable terms and the agreement was signed in March 1538. A proxy wedding took place at Châteaudun in May. She sailed for Scotland on June 10 and arrived safely. A marriage ceremony in person took place a few days later at St. Andrews. Celebrations ensued. Marie’s influence on James’ court was obvious early on. She was a formidable person in her own right and had many ideas. She influenced how women dressed by wearing French fashion. Marie was able to charm her mother in law, Margaret Tudor, the dowager Queen of Scotland. She coped with and accepted the fact that James had many mistresses and even took care of his illegitimate children. She administered many restoration and remodeling projects on castles. Linlithgow and Falkland Palaces were her personal favorites and she had them remodeled in the French mode.

King James V and Queen Marie of Scotland

Marie did not become pregnant until Sept 1539 and preparations for a coronation began. The crowning took place on February 22, 1540. A son was born on May 22 and named James. By March of the following year she was pregnant again. During this time her husband was exhibiting signs of paranoia and depression. Marie had a second son Robert born on April 12. On April 21st, Prince James died and shortly thereafter, Prince Robert died too.

Both parents were distraught. The children were buried in Holyrood Abbey next to Queen Madeleine. By May of the following year, Marie was pregnant again. In the fall, James learned that King Henry VIII of England was making preparations to attack Scotland and James decided he was not going to allow the attack to go unanswered. On November 24, 1542, James chose to make a huge attack at Solway Moss before choosing the optimal time and place. The results were disastrous for the Scots. The defeat was a huge blow to the King, humiliating him personally and greatly damaging to his forces. He went to Linlithgow to see Marie in her confinement and then travelled to Falkland Palace and retired to his bed with a fever. On December 8, Marie gave birth to a daughter, named Mary. James was to die in the early morning of December 15, possibly of a nervous breakdown. Marie was a widow once again.

Young Mary, Queen of Scots

The death of James V and the birth of Marie’s daughter set in motion events placing Scotland in the middle of a conflict between France and England. Both countries wanted to take physical custody of the small princess in an effort to dominate Scottish affairs. But Marie saw it as her duty to safeguard her daughter’s birthright and to maintain the Scottish alliance with France. James V had no will so the regency of the young princess was to be played out between David Beaton, Cardinal-Archbishop of St. Andrews who was pro-French and the pro-English James Hamilton, Earl of Arran. Arran was named regent and although Marie was in no position to question the appointment, she didn’t trust Arran. He named Beaton as chancellor, two weeks later imprisoning him. He seized all the royal castles except Stirling which was Marie’s by right and began to encourage ties with Henry VIII of England.

Henry wanted to dominate Scotland and put forth a marriage of his son Edward to the Scottish Queen. Marie shrewdly agreed to the marriage and the Treaty of Greenwich was negotiated. Marie got the support she needed from Beaton, who had escaped from prison and from Matthew Stuart, Earl of Lennox who was representing King Francis I. Arran agreed to share his position as regent and Queen Mary was removed to Stirling Castle. Marie was to head the council and Mary Queen of Scots was crowned on September 9, 1543. Marie had gambled and won. She was now in control of the government and awaited the annulment of the Treaty of Greenwich. When this did happen, it infuriated King Henry VIII. It was the beginning of a campaign called “The Rough Wooing” which was led by Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford, King Henry’s brother-in-law. The fighting between England and Scotland lasted from December 1542 to March of 1550. After years of sieges and battles, with power waxing and waning, the English abandoned the fight and a peace treaty was signed. In the meantime, a contract had been negotiated with the French with the young Queen of Scots betrothed to the Dauphin, Francis, son of King Henri II. The six year old Queen left Scotland for France in August of 1548 to be raised by her future in-laws.

After the peace with the English, Marie felt secure enough to travel to France to visit her daughter. She mourned the death of her elder son Francis. She then traveled to England and visited King Edward VI. In December of 1552, Marie returned to Scotland and by May of 1553, her power had increased to the point where she could challenge the Earl of Arran. She finally achieved the regency in her own name on April 12, 1554 and was to remain in power until 1560. Her daughter, Mary Queen of Scots was married to the Dauphin Francis on April 24, 1558.

During her years as regent Marie promoted French interests, alienating many Scots and those who were in the pay of the English. There was fighting off and on with the English and with the Scottish Protestants led by the “Lords of the Congregation”. Throughout the fighting, Marie would appear before the troops, urging them on and often putting herself in danger. During a round of negotiations to end the conflict in May of 1560, Marie became ill. She suffered from congestive heart failure and was having symptoms of dropsy. Realizing she was dying, she called the “Lords” to ask forgiveness if she ever offended them. Some of them left in tears. The illness became very serious and her mind began to wander. On June 8 she made her will and she finally died on June 11. Her body was taken to France and she was buried in the church at the Convent of Saint-Pierre in Riems.

© 2012
Resources: “Mary of Guise: Queen of Scots” by Rosalind K. Marshall, “The True Life of Mary Queen of Scots” by John Guy, “Princelie Majestie: The Court of James V of Scotland, 1528-1542” by Andrea Thomas, “Scottish Queens, 1034-1714” by Rosalind K. Marshall

Posted in England, France, Medieval History, Queens and Rulers, Scotland | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Madeleine of Valois, Queen of Scotland

Madeleine of Valois, Queen of Scotland

King Edward I of England had claimed feudal lordship over Scotland beginning in 1290 AD and there had been battles ever since. John Balliol, King of Scots and Philip IV of France negotiated the “Auld Alliance” and it played a momentous role in relations between Scotland, England and France from 1295 until the Treaty of Edinburgh in 1560. The alliance was to be renewed by all the French and Scottish monarchs during that time except King Louis XI of France. By the late 14th C. renewal of the alliance occurred whether either kingdom was fighting with England or not.

The terms of the agreement specified if Scotland or France was attacked by England, the other country would assault England. In 1513, King Henry VIII of England was planning to invade France to try to reclaim what he believed was his inheritance. King James IV of Scotland was Henry’s brother-in-law and while he and his wife Margaret Tudor did not want to attack England, the “Auld Alliance” demanded he do so. Scottish and English forces met at Flodden Field on September 9, 1513 and the flower of Scottish nobility died along with their King. By August 26, 1517, the Treaty of Rouen between King James V of Scotland and King Francis I of France renewed the “Auld Alliance” providing shared military assistance and reciprocal aid. Another provision was the marriage of the young King James to a daughter of King Francis, living or yet to be born.

At the time of the Treaty of Rouen, James V was five years old and King Francis’ eldest child and daughter was one year old and was soon to die of convulsions. In 1530, negotiations began for the French marriage. In 1536, King James was twenty-four, ready to marry and to strengthen the ties between Scotland and France. In March of that year it was agreed James would marry Marie of Bourbon and Francis would give her a dowry as if she were his own daughter. Marie’s father was a first prince of the blood royal after the sons of Francis I. In the fall, James travelled to St. Quentin and visited Marie. He was not pleased with what he saw so he made his way to the court of King Francis and there, he met Princess Madeleine.

King James V of Scotland

Madeleine of Valois was the daughter of King Francis and his first Queen Claude, Duchess of Brittany. She was born on August 10, 1520 at Saint-Germaine-en-Laye and was the fifth child and third daughter. Her health was delicate from the time of her birth and her parents decided she should live where it was warm, in the valley of the River Loire. She and her younger sister Marguerite were raised by Francis’ sister, Marguerite of Navarre. When the negotiations started for the Scottish marriage, Madeleine was ten years old and in bad health. This was the main reason Francis suggested Marie of Bourbon as James’ wife.

At the time of James’ visit to court, Madeleine was sixteen and back at court. It seems the two fell in love with each other. James insisted he wanted to marry the King’s eldest daughter and Madeleine pleaded with her father to allow her to marry James. Francis reluctantly gave in. They were married on January 1, 1537 at Notre Dame in Paris. Francis gave her a considerable dowry which greatly helped the Scottish treasury. One of the conditions of the marriage contract signed at Blois on November 26th was that Madeleine renounce her claim and any of her heirs claim to the French throne.

There were beautiful decorations and days of jousting at the Louvre. There was a splendid entry procession into the city of Paris. The festivities lasted until May when James and Madeleine left for Scotland. They were accompanied by a fleet of ten French ships. They arrived at Leith on May 19th. Madeleine fell to her knees and kissed the earth in thanks for arriving in her husband’s kingdom. By this time Madeleine was very ill, suffering frightening bouts of fever and catarrh. It is believed she suffered from tuberculosis, just as her mother Queen Claude did.

In preparation for Madeleine’s arrival, James had ordered improvements to Falkland Palace, painting the King and Queen apartments, making enhancements to the Chapel Royal and was planning a new tennis court. James built a new tower at Holyroodhouse in the French style for Madeleine. We know the name of eleven of Madeleine’s servants who accompanied her to Scotland. On June 8, Madeleine wrote to her father telling him she felt better and was improving. Plans were being made for her coronation. On July 7, 1537, Madeleine died in her husband’s arms at Holyroodhouse. She was known as the “Summer Queen” and the royal marriage was one of the shortest in history at six months and seven days.

Madeleine was buried at Holyrood Abbey. About a year later, James married Marie of Guise, the widowed Duchess of Longueville and a good friend of Madeleine’s. When James died in 1542 he was buried with Madeleine. There’s an inventory of possessions from five years after Madeleine’s death that mentions a few of her dresses, two small gold cups, an agate basin, an ewer of jasper and a flagon of rock crystal that were made for Madeleine when she was a child and that she brought to Scotland from France.

© 2012

Resources: “Mary of Guise: Queen of Scots” by Rosalind K. Marshall, “The True Life of Mary Queen of Scots” by John Guy, “Princelie Majestie: The Court of James V of Scotland, 1528-1542” by Andrea Thomas, “Scottish Queens, 1034-1714” by Rosalind K. Marshall

Posted in England, France, Medieval History, Queens and Rulers, Scotland | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Edith Kermit Carow Roosevelt – First Lady

Every thing about Theodore Roosevelt was larger than life. He had an enormous amount of energy and approached everything with exuberance and enthusiasm, whether it was physical exercise, hunting, reading, charging up San Juan Hill, or continuing a speech while bleeding after an assassination attempt. He wasn’t particularly self-aware and often talked too much. In many ways he needed an anchor, someone who could bring him back to reality and be a grounding influence. Edith Carow was that person. They had an immensely satisfying marriage and she was the perfect counterpoint to Theodore’s outgoing, almost overwhelming personality. Edith also was a superb and well-liked First Lady of the United States.

Edith Kermit Carow was born in Norwich Connecticut on August 6, 1861 to Charles Carow and Gertrude Elizabeth Tyler Carow. Edith had impeccable social credentials; she could count an American Civil War general, two British Prime Ministers, and the famous preacher Jonathan Edwards as her ancestors. Her father worked in the family shipping company, but was not as successful as many of his colleagues; however, at the time Charles and Gertrude married, he was still relatively well off and they settled in Manhattan just a few blocks from his childhood friend Theodore Roosevelt, Sr.

Edith was born within a few weeks of Corinne Roosevelt, Theodore’s younger sister, and was friends with the children in the Roosevelt family almost from birth. She and Corinne considered themselves the best of friends as children, although the relationship became strained by the time Theodore became president. The Roosevelt children were taught at home by their Aunt Anna Bullard and Edith was included in the lessons. She was a quiet, serious, somewhat introverted child who loved to read. At 10, she attended Miss Comstock’s finishing school re-enforcing her strong moral sense and her love of literature. Although math and science were not part of her formal education, she loved nature and learned to identify many different varieties of flowers. Charles taught Edith and her sister Emily, her only sibling to survive infancy, sports and the local flora and fauna.

Edith (on the ground) with TR, Elliot, and Corrine

Whether from inability or lack of inclination, Edith’s father couldn’t seem to overcome the bad times that inevitably occurred in the shipping industry in the 19th century. He also struggled more and more with alcoholism as he got into his 30s, around the time he married and his children were born. In spite of his problems, Edith was very close to him and they shared interests in learning, literature, and the theater. As their financial circumstances worsened, the family had to depend on relatives more and more for money and sometimes a place to live. When Charles died in 1883, he left the family in reduced circumstances that eventually required a move to Europe where they could live more cheaply.

Although Edith was friends with all of the Roosevelt children, by her early teens she had developed a special friendship with Theodore, Teedie to the family, and they were often together during family outings on Oyster Bay during the summer. Even though she was 3 years younger, when Theodore went to Harvard she appeared often in his diary and visited him at school. During the summer between his first two years, however, there was a disagreement between the two of them that neither explained with the exception of a reference that Theodore made to the fact that they both had tempers. Whatever happened, the end result was that Edith disappeared from Theodore’s diary and at sometime in his junior year, he met and instantly fell in love with Alice Hathaway Lee. He and Alice were married in 1880, a few months after his graduation from Harvard.

In spite of, or perhaps because of, Edith’s home life, she had developed into a determined and confident young woman, although somewhat reticent and hard to get to know. If anyone thought that she would avoid Theodore and his new bride, they were mistaken. She went to the wedding and encountered them in other social situations without hesitation. She even gave Theodore a party when he was elected to the State Assembly in 1882. The situation was different however, when Alice died, on Valentine’s Day 1884 only two days after giving birth to their daughter, also named Alice. Both Theodore and Edith took pains to avoid each other. He was heartbroken and took off to the Badlands.

Alice Hathaway Lee around the time of her marriage to TR

Although Theodore had a strong aversion to second marriages and saw them as being disloyal to the first wife, a chance encounter brought him and Edith back together in the fall of 1885. Within a few months, they had rekindled their relationship and become secretly engaged. Edith’s family financial situation was such that they had decided to move to Europe and she felt that she had to get them settled prior to getting married, so after the move Theodore joined her in London and they were wed on December 2, 1886. The newlyweds took their honeymoon in France and then returned to the home which Theodore had built for his first wife at Oyster Bay, although he did change the name from Leeholm to Sagamore Hill.

Baby Alice was being raised by Theodore’s sister Anna, Bamie to the family, and they had become very attached. He really didn’t have much to do with the baby, and usually referred to her as Baby Lee rather than by the name Alice. Although Theodore had offered to leave the baby with Bamie, Edith wanted her to come live with them. Five more children were born within the next ten years, giving Edith a large brood of children to manage, plus Theodore. Edith seemed to take it all in stride.

Roosevelt Family in 1903 with Quentin on the left, TR, Ted, Jr., Archie, Alice, Kermit, Edith, and Ethel

Unlike some First Ladies, Edith wasn’t interested in politics, but she knew that it was the life that Theodore had chosen. At the Republican National Convention in 1900, she was hoping that someone else would be nominated for Vice President other than Theodore. She knew that he would be bored simply presiding over the Senate, but it was a good move for him. He had served as Civil Service Commissioner, Police Commissioner in New York City, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, the Rough Rider war hero “Colonel Roosevelt”, Governor of New York and Vice President was a logical next step. What neither of them could have known was that the job would be short-lived and he would find himself the President within a few months.

Edith was extremely organized in managing her household and handling the family finances. She carried these same skills into the White House and in many ways made it her own. She was the first First Lady to add a social secretary to the payroll; she oversaw the renovation of the White House, the building of the West Wing, and separating the private quarters from public offices. When the family moved into the White House in 1901 the children ranged in age from 4 to 17 and Edith wanted to make their lives as normal as possible. This included numerous pets from dogs and cats to Alice’s pet snake, horseback riding, lessons, debuts for Alice and Ethel, and Alice’s wedding in 1906. She handled all of it with a grace that impressed the staff and even the media. White House aide W. H. Crook said that she handled all of her duties “without losing health, strength, or the youthful, vivacious, charming presence that made her personality as remarkable as that of her husband.”

Even though Edith was known for her efficiency, she was a warm and caring person attuned to the feelings of others. During one social event at the White House, she noticed a young woman, whose family had met with financial problems requiring her to take a job as a sales clerk, being ignored. As the woman was about to leave, Edith caught her and led her to a sofa to engage her in conversation. But she was no doormat either. When writing to Ted, his oldest son, just before his marriage, Theodore said that “when necessary [Edith] pointed out where I was thoughtless and therefore inconsiderate and selfish, instead of submitting to it. Had she not done this it would in the end have made her life very much harder, and mine very much less happy.” Even Alice, who was not an easy child to raise, when writing about Edith in her autobiography Crowded Hours, wrote, “That I was the child of another marriage was a simple fact and made a situation that had to be coped with, and Mother coped with it with a fairness and charm and intelligence which she has to a greater degree than almost any one else I know.”

Edith lived a long life. After Theodore died in 1919, she traveled extensively and enjoyed her children and grandchildren. She never was completely free of politics. In 1936, she supported Alfred Landon against her husband’s “distant cousin” Franklin Delano Roosevelt, vehemently objecting when anyone tried to compare FDR to Theodore. Unfortunately, she also had to endure the sorrow of seeing three of her children die; one of whom suffered with alcoholism as her father had, ultimately committing suicide. When Edith died on September 30, 1948 at the age of 87, Life magazine called her “one of the strongest-minded and strongest-willed presidential wives who ever lived in the White House.”

Edith’s official White House portrait

The Roosevelt Women by Betty Boyd Caroli
Presidential Wives: An Anecdotal History by Paul F. Boller, Jr.
TR: The Last Romantic by H. W. Brands

Posted in First Ladies, United States | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments