Mary Stuart This painting of Mary was worked in a traditional glazing technique on canvas board. Ardell Morton.
Mary (1542-1587), born to rule a kingdom, fell prey to treacherous relations on her return to Scotland from France as a young woman and was beheaded by her cousin Queen Elizabeth I.
Mary Stuart was born at Linlithgow Palace on the 8th of December 1542. Mary’s father James V had returned to Falkland Palace after his troops had been routed by the English at Solway Moss. James had recently lost two young sons, and with the birth of Mary, the royal lineage now passed to her.
James died within a week of Mary’s birth; she now became Mary Queen of Scots. What a beginning to a life full of romance and ultimately tragedy.
Her early years were spent at Stirling castle mainly to keep her safe from the clutches of King Henry VIII, who had demanded that Mary should be raised at the Tudor court, this followed Mary’s betrothal to Henry’s eldest son Prince Edward after the treaty of Greenwich was drawn up on July 1543.
These were turbulent times, Henry VIII’s arrogance towards the Scots knew no bounds, and thus, to appease the mood of the people and at the same time declare the intention of remaining an independent Scotland, the coronation of Mary took place at the Chapel Royal, Stirling Castle. Mary was nine months old.
By December of that year, Henry, failing to ratify the terms of the treaty of Greenwich within the agreed period of time led to only one thing, the betrothal of Mary and Edward was rescinded and the Auld Alliance of Scotland and France was reinstated. Such was Henry VIII’s rage that for two years he laid waste to many of the borders towns and villages, this was known sardonically, as “The Rough Wooing”.
Henry VIII died in January 1547 but the violence against the Scots continued unabated. In Sept. of that year, 30,000 Scots led by the hopelessly inept Earl of Annan were thoroughly routed at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, one third of the Scots force were annihilated. At this juncture, Mary was sent to the priory at Inchmahome. Mary was four years old.
In 1548, Mary was betrothed, for the second time, to the Dauphin Francis. For the next ten years, Mary, now in France and treated as the Queen that she rightfully was, embraced all that France could offer at that time, culture, society, the arts, and philosophy, all were within Mary’s sphere. On the 24th of April 1558, Mary and Francis were wed. Mary was fifteen years old.
Following the death of Henry II, the Dauphin was now Francis II, King of France, Mary was Queen, and she was now sixteen years of age. In December 1560 Francis II died. In August 1561, Mary left France bound once more to return to Scotland, she would never see France again.
If only Mary had a glimpse of her future in subsequent years, would she have remained in France? Therein lays the whole tragedy of what was to befall her. That heady mix of greed, ambitious suitors, religion, politics, and ultimately regicide, all conspired against her.
In July 1565, Mary married Henry, Lord Darnley. In March 1566, David Riccio was murdered in front of Mary. A pregnant Mary fled to the safety of Dunbar Castle, in June of that year; Mary gave birth to a healthy son, who would become, James the VI of Scotland and James the I of England. In February 1568, Darnley was killed in the old Provosts lodging in Edinburgh following an explosion.
In May 1567, Mary took her third husband, the Earl of Bothwell. In May 1568, Mary landed in the port of Workington on the Cumbrian coast. Bothwell had fled to the Orkneys, later dying insane abroad. On February 8, 1587, after nineteen years incarceration, Mary Queen of Scots was executed.
It is to the shame of Elizabeth I that she should participate in regicide and to the eternal damnation of the Scots that they should have allowed it. Mary was 45 years old.