D.O.B: 8th of December 1542, at Linlithgow Palace, Scotland
Father: James V, King of Scotland
Mother: Mary of Guise
Crowned Queen of Scotland: December 14th, aged 6 days old
Died: February 8th, 1587, executed at Fotheringhay Castle, aged 44 years old
Buried at:Peterborough Cathedral, taken to Westminster Abby in 1612
Children:James VI (James I of England)
Mary was born in the same week that her father, King James V was dying. When James heard the news of his daughter’s birth he cried out from his deathbed saying “Woe is me. My dynasty came with a lass. It will go with a lass”
Mary’s early days
6 days after Mary’s birth, her father died and the baby girl was crowned Queen of Scotland.
James V’s death
On James V’s death, the country was plunged into confusion, as both France and England plotted for control.
Mary’s new Husband
Back in the 16th century the life expectancy was between 30-40 years old. So, to ensure that their daughter was going to be looked after her parents arranged a suitable marriage at a young age. Her parents looked at the possibility that Mary would marry Henry VII’s son, Edward VI of England. Henry started to make demands about the conditions of their marriage and their future life, which were not seen as acceptable by Mary’s parents. All the demands were rejected, including the marriage, by Mary of Guise who was acting as regent for her daughter.
In July 1548, her parents found a suitable partner for Mary to marry - Mary, Queen of Scots was only 5 years old. She became engaged to Frances II, son of King Henry II of France. Mary was then sent to live in France. She was educated at the French court.
Mary’s life in France
Mary had been brought up in France as a Catholic. In Paris 1588, she got married to Francis II at the age of 15. As a result of becoming married to Francis II, the French monarch believed Mary was the rightful heir to the English throne. Elizabeth I was furious as she believed she was the sole heir to the throne.
Queen at last
In 1599 due to tragic circumstances the King of France died. When Mary’s husband took the crown, she became his queen. Sadly, the following year Mary of Guise died after 6 years of being Regent in Scotland. A year after Francis became King he passed away, leaving Mary a widow at the age of 19. She returned to Scotland. She left for Scotland on the 14th of August 1561. When she arrived at Leith Port, Edinburgh 5 days later, she received a tremendous welcome. She became Queen. Everybody loved her courtesy and radiant beauty. Sadly, a short time after her arrival the Scottish people began to fear the friends, opinions and Catholicism Mary had brought back from France.
Mary married Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley. Lord Darnley proved to be a useless husband. He was an ill-behaved and untrustworthy husband. Mary became pregnant with Darnley’s child and lost patience for his wicked ways. Mary’s attention turned towards an Italian singer, Rizzio, who later became her secretary. Darnley was mad with jealousy over Rizzio because Rizzio was receiving all of Mary’s attention.
The murder of Rizzio
Mary & Darnley
On March 9th 1566 Darnley arrived with a group of drunken friends and invaded Mary’s private apartment. Mary at the time was throwing a supper party, in which Rizzio was attending. To Mary’s horror, they dragged Rizzio into the corridor and stabbed him 50 times in the stomach and left him there to die.
Not long after the murder of Rizzio, Mary gave birth to a beautiful son, who became Prince James VI of Scotland in June 1566. A few months later, there was an explosion in Darnley’s home. Someone had put gunpowder under his room.
Darnley was found in his front garden, dead in February 1567. It turned out that the explosion had not killed him, he was strangled to death, someone had purposely put gunpowder under his room to distract from the fact that Darnley was strangled.
Mary and her son, Prince James VI
People believed that James Hepburn, Lord Bothwell of Scotland was the one who killed Darnley, but Mary was one of his only supporters. Mary had met Lord Bothwell on her way back to Edinburgh after visiting her family. Bothwell persuaded her that if she returned to Edinburgh her life would be in danger, after the murder of her husband, Lord Bothwell feared that if she went back to Edinburgh she, too, would be killed. He suggested that she go and live with him at Dunbar Castle, where he could protect her. She agreed to join him; they fell in love and got married in May 1567 at Holyrood Palace. Some people believed that she was forced to marry Bothwell because of a conspiracy between them over Darnley’s murder.
Lord Bothwell of Scotland
Many nobles opposed their marriage and an uprising was organised, led by the Earl of Morton. The uprising took place on the 15th of June 1567 at Carberry Hill, near Musselburugh.
The uprising led to a 6 hour fight, which ended with Bothwell leaving the grounds. Mary was soon aware of the treachery of her ‘loyal’ subjects and was then forced to ride with the rebels without any rest or refreshments. She slowly made her way to Edinburgh. On her arrival, the crowd, once again cheered. Not long after her arrival, she was accused of treason. Mary was taken to the Provost’s house and was locked into a small room while a rioting mob outside demanded her to be executed. Afraid of what would happen if Mary stayed at the Provost’s House, the nobles decided to move her to the Holyrood, under the protection of the ‘blue blanket’, which was used by the soldiers to shield her from the mob.
Earl of Morton
The ‘Blue Blanket’
Mary’s capture 2
Loch Leven castle
Mary was later moved to a castle in the middle of Loch Leven because the soldiers thought it was unsafe for her to stay in Holyrood. When she arrived, she was placed under the care of her father’s former mistress, Lady Margaret Douglas. Several days later, Mary was forced to sign some papers giving the throne to her son, James VI. The Earl of Moray was to become the Regent for James VI. Everything was going well until the news of Mary’s escape got out. Mary escaped from the castle in Loch Leven and she had fled to Hamilton Palace. Meanwhile in Glasgow, the Earl of Moray gathered an army while other nobles swore their loyalty to Mary. Mary was scared that she would fall into enemy hands. She escaped to Solway Firth and then to England, to seek protection from her cousin, Queen Elizabeth.
Warrant for the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots
Mary lived for 18 years as a prisoner of Elizabeth, who thought it was better to keep Mary under armed guard rather than sending her back to Scotland, where her presence might have caused a civil war. Mary was still an embarrassment and a threat to Elizabeth, so she accused Mary of treason and signed a warrant for Mary’s death. On a cold day at Fotheringhay Castle, Mary was led to her death. Mary wore a scarlet dress. Being so weak from the 18 years of imprisonment she was helped onto the scaffolding. It took 2 tries with an axe for her head to get completely removed from her neck. The executioner noticed something moving under her dress, he lifted her dress up to find her small Skye terrier. Mary had brought her own dog to her execution. The little dog didn’t want to leave Mary’s dead corpse, he was lying on her shoulders. He had to be dragged away from Mary’s son, Prince James VI, covered in Mary’s blood. After James VI became the new King of England, he moved his mother’s body to Westminster Abbey in 1612.