The son of King James IV of Scotland, he was born in April 10, 11 or 15, 1512, at Linlithgow Palace in Fife, and was still an infant when his father was killed at the Battle of Flodden Field on September 9, 1513. During his childhood, the country was ruled as regent, first by his mother, Margaret Tudor (sister of King Henry VIII of England), until she remarried in the following year, and thereafter by the Duke of Albany, who was himself next in line for the throne after James and his younger brother, the posthumously-born Alexander. However, when war broke out again between England and France, the Earl of Angus, the young king's stepfather, drove out Albany and
His first action as king was to remove Angus from the scene, and he then subdued the Border rebels and the chiefs of the Western Isles. He made peace with France, and on January 1, 1537, he married Madeleine, daughter of King Francis I of France. Following her death a few months later, he proceeded to marry Mary of Guise, widow of Louis de Longueville. Although Mary already had two children from her first marriage, both her sons by James died in infancy.
The death of his mother in 1541 removed any incentive for keeping peace with England, but James was defeated at the Battle of Solway Moss in 1542. The setback affected his health, and he was on his deathbed when his only living heir, a girl, was born in December of the same year. He died on December 14, 1542, and was succeeded by his infant daughter, Mary I of Scotland. He was buried at Holyrood Abbey.
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Mary, Queen of Scots