Secret Fleming-Stewart Line?

Is there a secret Fleming-Stewart linage in Britian and inn America?

John Presco

Janet Stewart, Lady Fleming


The Affair of Janet Stewart, the Lady Fleming with Henry II of France

While researching for my book ‘The Challenge to the Crown‘, I came across this story concerning Janet Stewart, Mary Queen of Scots’ aunt, who also served as her Governess, when she went to France after becoming betrothed to the Dauphin Francis, later Francis II.

Janet Stewart, Lady Fleming
Janet Stewart, Lady Fleming

Janet Stewart, the Lady Fleming, was the illegitimate daughter of James IV of Scotland and the widow of Malcolm, 3rd Lord Fleming, who, in September 1547, was killed at the Battle of Pinkie Cleuch. Less than a year later she was appointed Governess in charge of the Royal party taking Mary Queen of Scots to France for her education. She was accompanying her daughters Mary Fleming, one of Mary’s Maries (Maids of Honour) and Agnes, who was a few years older.  The Lady Fleming was a great personality. She had no difficulty in communicating her considerable charms to those on board the French galley transporting the Royal entourage, despite bouts of seasickness. After their journey, De Brézé reported that:

She had pleased all this company as much as the six most virtuous women in this kingdom could have done. For my part I would not for all the world have had her absent, having regard not only to the service of the Queen but to the reputation of the Kingdom of Scotland.

Her success continued on arrival at the French court. Knox believed that Mary had been ‘sold to the devil’, and he may have had a point. The court was certainly no haven of morality and Henry II lived openly with his long term mistress, Diane de Poitiers. The ladies solicited the men as much as the men solicited them. Mary must have become only too aware of the court’s lascivious goings on. In 1550, the Guise brothers, who kept a proprietary eye on the royal nursery, heard that Constable Montmorency had been paying the Lady Fleming undue attention. As he was Diane de Poitiers’ principal rival for the King’s ear, they were quick to warn her. Diane who had responsibility for the upbringing of the French Royal children provided a key to the Lady Fleming’s apartment to enable Montmorency to be caught in flagrante delictu. To their horror they found that he was acting as a blind for the sensual governess to be courted by the King.

The affair developed and Henry even wrote somewhat disingenuously to Mary of Guise, the Queen Dowager, in Scotland, saying:

I believe that you appreciate the care trouble and great attention that my kinswoman [she was Mary’s aunt and he considered Mary to be his daughter] the Lady Fleming shows from day to day about the person of our little daughter the Queen of Scots, I must continually remember her children and her family.

Henry II of France
Henry II of France

Diane concluded that Montmorency had promoted the affair in an effort to topple her from her pre-eminent position next to the King. Montmorency certainly publicised rumours of a rift between her and the King. Despite having a broken leg after a fall from her horse, she returned to St-Germain from her home at Anet to position herself outside the Lady Fleming’s door. When the King appeared with Montmorency, she upbraided him for bringing the Queen of Scots into disrepute by sleeping with her governess, particularly as Fleming was known to have Huguenot sympathies. Henry made Diane promise not to advise the Guises (who had told her of the affair in the first place), while the French Queen, Catherine de Medici, enjoyed Diane’s discomfiture and played the outraged wife. Despite their efforts to cool down the affair, Henry ignored them both, and the Lady Fleming unwisely, but certainly not ashamedly, became pregnant. Although Henry would have preferred her to show discretion about this, she flaunted her success and, in excruciating French with a strong Scottish accent, loudly pronounced, ‘I have done all that I can, and God be thanked, I am pregnant by the King, for which I count myself both honoured and happy.’  Catherine saw to it that ‘Madam de Flamin’ was shipped back to Scotland, travelling with her daughter Agnes (who was to marry Mary Livingston’s brother, William, 6th Lord Livingston in 1553), while her daughter Mary remained behind in France as one of the Maries. Back in Scotland, she gave birth to a son, named Henry after his father. Diane resumed her politically important position as royal mistress, but she was now aged fifty-one, and was beginning to find the 32-year-old King’s sexually athletic overtures somewhat irksome. This allowed Catherine to develop her political authority by spending increasing time in the royal bed.

The Lady Fleming was determined to return with her son to France, but this was forbidden by the Queen Dowager, Marie of Guise. It was only after her death in 1560 that Elizabeth in England permitted her to travel over land with Lord ‘Harry de Valois’ and an escort of twenty-four horsemen. Both Mary, now Queen of France, and her husband Francis II, were fond of her and appear to have received her graciously. Henry, Chevalier d’Angoulême, was thereafter brought up with the other royal children and his leaping agility on the dance floors at Court was testimony to his Scottish ancestry. He later became Abbé de la Chaise-Dieu and Grand Prior General of the Galleys. Although he was noted for his writing of lyrical verse, he grew to be a man of great cruelty, being associated with the St Bartholemew’s Day Massacre. He was finally killed in a duel in 1586. The Lady Fleming died in February 1562 at Richmond in London, perhaps as she was returning to Scotland.

Janet Stewart, Lady Fleming

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

(Redirected from Lady Janet Stewart)

Portrait of Lady Janet Stewart by George Jamesone

Janet Stewart, Lady Fleming (17 July 1502 – 20 February 1562), called la Belle Écossaise (French for ‘the Beautiful Scotswoman‘), was a Scottish courtier. She was an illegitimate daughter of King James IV of Scotland who served as governess to her half-niece Mary, Queen of Scots. Janet was briefly a mistress of King Henry II of France, by whom she had a legitimated son: Henri d’Angoulême.[1] Her daughter, Mary Fleming, was one of the young queen’s “Four Marys“.


Janet Stewart (also referred to as Jane, Jenny, and other variants) was the fifth illegitimate child of the Stewart king James IV to reach adulthood. Her half-brothers included James Stewart, 1st Earl of MorayAlexander StewartLord Chancellor of Scotland; and James VKing of Scots, her father’s only surviving legitimate child.

Her mother—the fourth royal mistress of James IV to bear his offspring—was Agnes (secondarily known as Isabel), daughter of James Stewart, 1st Earl of Buchan (who bore the nickname “Hearty James”).[2] Janet’s parents were distantly related (precisely, half second cousins once removed) by a common ancestor: Joan Beaufort, Queen of Scots.

Marriage and issue[edit]

Janet Stewart married Malcolm Fleming, 3rd Lord Fleming, despite being related within a forbidden degree of affinity. They had eight children:

  1. Johanna (born 1525)
  2. Janet (born 1527), who was first married to John, Master of Livingston, killed at the battle of Pinkie 1547, eldest son of Alexander Livingston, 5th Lord Livingston, and a brother of Mary Livingston, one of Queen Mary’s “Four Marys
  3. Margaret Fleming (born by 1532), who married Robert Graham, Master of Montrose, by whom she had a son, John Graham, 3rd Earl of Montrose; then was remarried to Thomas Erskine, Master of Erskine (younger brother of the John Erskine, 6th Lord Erskine), but had no issue; and thirdly, married John Stewart, 4th Earl of Atholl, by whom she had a son John Stewart, 5th Earl of Atholl and three daughters. Margaret Fleming was said to be a witch possessing the power to cast spells.[3]
  4. James Fleming, 4th Lord Fleming (?born 1534), who married Barbara Hamilton, his daughter Jean Fleming (1554–1609) married John Maitland of Thirlestane, the younger brother of William Maitland of Lethington the husband of his sister Mary Fleming. His grandson was John Maitland, 1st Earl of Lauderdale.
  5. Elizabeth (born 1530)
  6. John Fleming, 5th Lord Fleming (?born 1535).
  7. Agnes (born 1535), who married William Livingstone, 6th Lord Livingston
  8. Mary Fleming (born 1543), was one of the “Four Marys” the ladies in waiting to Mary, Queen of Scots who married William Maitland of Lethington

Court life[edit]

Lord Fleming was killed at the Battle of Pinkie in 1547. The following year, presumably due to her unofficial membership in the royal Stewart family, the widow Fleming was appointed governess or nurse to her infant half-niece Mary, Queen of Scots (her new mistress having been fathered by her late half-brother). Her own daughter, Mary Fleming, also joined the queen’s household as a lady-in-waiting.

In August 1548, mother and daughter accompanied the young queen to France. They waited aboard ship on the Clyde at Dumbarton Castle for a time. Lady Fleming asked Captain Villegaignon if the queen could go back ashore to rest.[4] Villegaignon swore she would go to France or drown on the way.[5]

Giovanni Ferrerio wrote to Robert ReidBishop of Orkney, concerned about Lady Fleming’s lack of French or Latin. As she was only fluent in Scots, he doubted her ability to communicate to French doctors any symptoms of illness seen in Mary. He hoped Reid would speak to Mary of Guise to secure the appointment of a Scottish physician, William Bog.[6]

At the royal court of France, Lady Fleming soon attracted the attentions of King Henry II and became his lover. Their affair resulted in pregnancy, and—either before or after bearing the French monarch an illegitimate son—Janet was sent back to Scotland and replaced as governess to Mary by Françoise de Paroy. Her boy, called Henri de Valois-Angoulême (1551–June, 1586), was “the chief and most highly favored natural son of the King”. He was legitimized and went on to become the “Grand Prior of France, Governor of Provence, and Admiral of the Levantine Sea.”[7]

In November 1549 the English prisoner James Wilford was exchanged for the release of her son James, Lord Fleming, who had been captured during the war of the Rough Wooing.[8] In October 1552, Janet’s situation in Scotland was described by Mary of Guise in a letter written to her brother, the Cardinal of Lorraine. There had been talk of marrying Janet off to Henri Cleutin, Guise’s military advisor. Although one of Janet’s daughters had informed Mary of Guise that her mother did not wish to leave Scotland, Guise knew that Janet had discussed leaving Scotland with the Governor, Regent Arran, and wanted to see Henry II that winter. Guise told the Cardinal to reassure Catherine de’ Medici, the queen of France, that Janet would not be leaving Scotland.[9]

Janet was one of the ladies who kept vigil over the body of Mary of Guise at Edinburgh Castle in June 1560. The ladies were not at first given mourning clothes, and Janet quoted in Latin a phrase from the Book of Joel to the English diplomat Thomas Randolph, “Scindite corda vestra, non vestimenta,” Rend your heart, not your garments.[10] Afterwards, Janet applied to the Privy Council for permission to leave Scotland with her son “Lord Hary de Valoys” on 22 August 1560. Henry took part in the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre and was killed in a duel in 1586.[11]

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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