Mary Queen of Scots


(NOTE: Students sometimes confuse  Mary I, Queen of England with   Mary, Queen of Scots,  therefore, a short biography of Mary I, Queen of England, along with her genealogy chart ,  is included in this site to help clear up any confusion.) 

ary was Queen of Scotland and reigned about 460 years ago. She was one of the most tragic queens in British history. Born in Linlithgow Palace in the year 1542, (7th or 8th of December)*, Mary was the third child (two young brothers had previously died) and the only daughter of James V of  Scotland and his second wife Mary of Guise, a French noblewoman.  Her father James V died six days after her birth and with his death Mary became the  infant queen.  On 23 July 1543, she and her mother were moved to the safety of  Stirling Castle where she was crowned Queen on the 9th of September. The young queen was then entrusted to the care and protection of Lords Erskine and Livingstone.  *Note:  The 7th is the date recorded in the Register of Lothian (Chalmers, i 2)

A Promised Marriage with Prince Edward of England In an effort to create an alliance with Scotland, King Henry VIII  proposed a marriage between his young son Edward and the infant Mary. When  his efforts failed, he launched a war on Scotland. This war was known as  “The Rough Wooing.” (1544-1551) After Henry VIII died in 1547, young Edward’s uncle the Duke of Somerset  continued on with the attempt to forcibly create an alliance between  the two countries.  This phase saw several invasions into Scotland. Shortly  after the last invasion, the battle of Pinkie Cleugh, where  the Scots suffered a bitter defeat, Mary’s mother sent  her for security to the priory of Inchmahome, situated on an island in the Lake  of Menteith. She was eventually transferred to Dumbarton Castle the stronghold most accessible to France.

First Marriage: the Dauphin Ten years later she married Francis, son of Henry II, king of France, and his wife, Catherine de Medici.  Unfortunately, this marriage did not last long as Francis died after only 2 years of marriage. Mary was inconsolable!

Second Marriage: Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley In 1565 Mary married her cousin Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, an English nobleman. The bridegroom was proclaimed Henry, King of Scots. Their only child was to become James 1 of England.  Mary soon became disenchanted with Henry, he had become overbearing, arrogant and carried away by his new title.  He made enemies of some of the powerful nobles and, because of that enmity, there was a plot to kill him.  Some thought that Mary had knowledge of the plot.   Henry, along with his servant,  was found strangled to death after the gunpowder blast intended to take his life failed.

Third Marriage: James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell The rift between Mary and her husband became public knowledge.  She turned to a Scottish nobleman, a very powerful man, the Earl of Bothwell, for support.  He and other Scottish noblemen proposed to do whatever they could to help the queen in her dilemma.   This decision led to a failed explosion plot and to the strangulation death of Darnley.  A few months later, Mary and the Earl married.  This angered the populace who suspected Bothwell’s participation in the murder of their King. Mary’s subjects were outraged and turned against her.

She fled to England to ask for help from her cousin Queen Elizabeth I.  Instead, she was imprisoned.
After 19 years of trying to obtain her freedom, she was charged and found guilty of taking part in a plot to kill Elizabeth. Mary was beheaded at Fotheringhay Castle in 1587.  She was 44 years old.

(NOTE:  Students sometimes confuse Mary, Queen of England with Mary, Queen of Scots, therefore, a short biography of Mary, Queen of England is added to this site for their clarification.)

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