Magdalene Elizabeth of Scotland
Duchess Consort of Brittany
Tenure 12 April 1609 - 15 May 1613
Spouse Francis IV of Brittany
Issue Charles I of Brittany

Sophie Isabelle of Brittany
Madeleine Charlotte of Brittany

House House of Stuart (by birth)

House of Coligny (by marriage)

Father James VI of Scotland
Mother Sophia Magdalene of England
Born 19 November 1589
Linlithgow Palace, Scotland
Died 15 May 1613 (aged 23)
Rennes, Brittany
Burial Nantes Cathedral
Religion Calvinism

Magdalene Elizabeth (19 November 1589 - 15 May 1613) was the eldest daughter of Sophia Magdalene of England and James VI of Scotland. In 1609, she married Francis IV of Brittany in a double marital alliance, her brother James (future James VII) married Charlotte Christina of Brittany in 1606.

Early Life

Magdalene was born early 19 November 1589 at Stirling Palace in Scotland. She was the second child and eldest daughter of Queen Sophia and King James of Scotland. She was followed by a brother, Alexander (1591), and a sister, Arbella Mary (1593). It was noted from childhood that Magdalene was not the pretty daughter of royal family. However, Magdalene excelled in her studies and was a very adept dancer as well. She had a gentle personality, though she was not easily persuaded. She was her father's favorite child and he ensured that she would receive the best of everything.Magdalene had a close relationship with her sister Arbella and her brother James, though she often fought with Alexander. She was often ill and rarely traveled to preserve her health.

Marital Alliance with Brittany

The Duke of Brittany, Francis III, wanted an alliance with James VI against the Elector of Bavaria in the War of Catholic Union. It was proposed that Magdalene's older brother would marry Charlotte Christina and Magdalene would marry Francis (later Francis IV). Charlotte Christina married James in 1606, but Magdalene's frail health prevented her from traveling until 1609.


Magdalene Elizabeth was put off from the marriage from the start. She felt that as a Scottish princess, a mere duke was too far beneath her. Her opinion on the match worsened when she met her sister-in-law at Linlithgow Palace. Charlotte was prettier and easily garnered attention from the courtiers in attendance. As a result, her younger sister Arbella began to strongly dislike Charlotte as well, even pushing the future queen and causing a miscarriage in 1610 after Magdalene had left for Brittany. In March of 1609, Magdalene finally met her future husband, Francis. The two surprisingly got along well during their first meeting and Magdalene was excited to marry him. However, she was unaware that he had already taken up a mistress and did not intend on giving her up for Magdalene. When she was seven months pregnant, she discovered Francis and the unknown woman in an embrace and stormed out. Soon after, she gave birth to a son, Charles, that would be Duke for a year with no surviving issue.


Magdalene had been frail since childhood, but the birth of Charles weakened her greatly. However, Francis knew that Charles was a frail infant and decided to try for another child. Magdalene soon fell pregnant although the pregnancy was extremely difficult for her. Francis began to regret trying for another heir so soon after the birth of their first child and seemed to accept the fact that she would not survive the birth. During March, Francis discreetly opened marriage negotiations with Navarre, proving that he expected to lose his wife. On 14 May 1613, Magdalene went into labor and gave birth to twin girls, Sophie and Madeleine. By 15 May, she was dead. Her husband mourned her death briefly but remarried by the end of the year to Elisabeth Charlotte of Navarre.

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