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MCLEANSCOTLAND ARE LOOKING FOR INTERESTED PEOPLE TO MAKE UP A TOUR COINCIDING WITH THE LIFE OF MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS. Interested persons should please e mail us at: with notes of interest. ALONG with Robert the Bruce, Mary is probably the best known of Scotland's monarchs, due to the dramatic and tragic nature of both her life and reign. Mary was born in Linlithgow Palace on December 8th 1542. She became queen at only six days old following the death of her father, James V.   As female heir to the kingdom of Scotland, Mary was promised in marriage to Henry VIII's son, Edward. Although this would cement a pact with England, the match did not go down well with the population of Scotland, who regarded France as their natural ally. The marriage was soon off. Needless to say, Henry VIII would not be denied and so began his 'rough wooing' of Scotland to convince the powers that be that they better reconsider his marriage plans - or else. Abbeys in Melrose, Jedburgh, Dryburgh and Holyrood were sacked. Concerns for Mary's safety mounted as Henry's forces ran riot over the Scots.

After the disastrous Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, she was sent to live in France and, in 1558 she married the French dauphin, Francois. The series of tragedies that mark Mary's life continued as Francois was stricken with an infection and died in 1560. After her husband's death, Mary returned to Scotland to finally rule as queen in situ, but for a Catholic monarch who was also a woman, turbulent, Protestant Scotland was unlikely to be an easy place to be. The problems that Mary faced were made worse by her marriage to Lord Darnley in 1565. Darnley was a fellow Catholic, which infuriated the Scots' protestant noblemen, and was said to be both immature and violently temperamental. He had strong links to both Scots and English monarchies and any child that the couple had would have a good claim to both thrones. This prospect displeased Elizabeth I who anyway felt that Mary should not have married Darnley (who was an English subject) without consulting her first. By the time she found herself pregnant with the future James VI, she already had problems with the new husband, who felt that he should enjoy more power and influence as 'king'. Darnley's behaviour led to one of the most notorious events of Mary's reign when, in concert with a group of noblemen, he burst into the queen's apartment and stabbed her secretary Rizzio to death in front of her eyes. This, along with Darnley's increasingly aggressive behaviour towards her, would lead to a royal assassination when Darnley was killed at Kirk O' Fields (in Edinburgh's Royal Mile) in February 1567. Darnley's assassination caused uproar in Scotland, but the fact that the Earl of Bothwell (suspected to be responsible) was to shortly become Mary's third husband was the last straw. The noblemen acted once more and she was soon taken captive and imprisoned in Loch Leven castle.

What followed for Mary was a series of events that would eventually lead to her execution. Although she was able to escape from Loch Leven, she was unable to regain her throne and sought sanctuary in England. Her first experience of the life of an exiled monarch was an inquiry into the death of Darnley where the notorious 'casket letters' - love letters from Mary to Bothwell - formed a major part of the evidence against her. Mary's confinement in England lasted 18 years, most of it spent in the custody of the Earl of Shrewsbury in Sheffield Castle or Sheffield Manor. It is not certain whether the plot that led to her death was genuine or contrived by her enemies, but whatever the seed of her downfall, it was enough to convince Elizabeth to sign Mary's death warrant. She was led to the scaffold on February 8th 1587, wearing the red of a Catholic martyr. It is said that it took three blows to complete the beheading and that when the executioner lifted her head by the hair for all to view, he was left with only a wig in his hand as her head rolled on the ground at his feet, lips still moving in prayer.


Born: 7 Dec 1542, Linlithgow Palace, Scotland
Acceded: 9 Sep 1543, Stirling Castle
Died: 8 Feb 1587, Fotheringhay Castle, Northampton
Interred: 1612, Westminster Abbey, London, England

Father: JAMES V STUART (King of Scotland)
Mother: Mary De GUISE

Married 1: FRANCOIS II De VALOIS (King of France) 24 Apr 1558, Paris, France
Married 2: Henry STUART (B. Darnley) 29 Jul 1565, Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh,
Children: 1. JAMES I STUART (King of Great Britain)

Married 3: James HEPBURN (4 E. Bothwell) 15 May 1567, Holyrood Palace,
Children: 2. Twin HEPBURN (b. Jul 1568 - d. Jul 1568)
3. Twin HEPBURN (b. Jul 1568 - d. Jul 1568)       Marie Stuart Society Website
The Society was formed in 1992 to mark the 450th anniversary of the birth of Mary, the Queen of Scots. The aim is to promote the further study of her life and times. It is not an academic Society but a group of people who all share an interest in the Tudor and Stewart periods of history, and in particular, Mary.