Mary Queen of Scots born

Mary Queen of Scots born

In Linlithgow Palace in Scotland, a daughter is born to James V, the dying king of Scotland. Named Mary, she was the only surviving child of her father and ascended to the Scottish throne when the king died just six days after her birth.

Mary’s French-born mother, Mary of Guise, sent her to be raised in the French court, and in 1558 she married the French dauphin, who became King Francis II of France in 1559 and died in 1560. After Francis’ death, Mary returned to Scotland to assume her designated role as the country’s monarch. Mary’s great-uncle was Henry VIII, the Tudor king of England, and in 1565 she married her English cousin Lord Darnley, another Tudor, which reinforced her claim to the English throne. This greatly angered the current English monarch, Queen Elizabeth I.

READ MORE: The Wildly Different Childhoods of Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots

In 1567, Darnley was mysteriously killed in an explosion at Kirk o’ Field, and Mary’s lover, James Hepburn, the earl of Bothwell, was the key suspect. Although Bothwell was acquitted of the charge, his marriage to Mary in the same year enraged the nobility, and Mary was forced to abdicate in favor of her son by Darnley, James. Mary was imprisoned on the tiny island of Loch Leven.

In 1568, she escaped from captivity and raised a substantial army but was defeated by her Scottish foes and fled to England. Queen Elizabeth I initially welcomed Mary but was soon forced to put her cousin under house arrest after Mary became the focus of various English Catholic and Spanish plots to overthrow her. In 1586, a major Catholic plot to murder Elizabeth was uncovered, and Mary was brought to trial, convicted for complicity, and sentenced to death.

On February 8, 1587, Mary Queen of Scots was beheaded for treason at Fotheringhay Castle in England. Her son, King James VI of Scotland, calmly accepted his mother’s execution, and upon Queen Elizabeth’s death in 1603, he became James I, king of England, Scotland, and Ireland.

READ MORE: The Salacious Letters That Helped Bring Down Mary Queen of Scots

Early life

Mary Stuart was the only child of King James V of Scotland and his French wife, Mary of Guise. The death of her father six days after her birth left Mary as queen of Scotland in her own right. Although Mary’s great-uncle King Henry VIII of England made an unsuccessful effort to secure control of her (Mary inherited Tudor blood through her grandmother, a sister of Henry VIII), the regency of the kingdom was settled in favour of her mother.

Her mother saw to it that Mary was sent to France at age five. There she was brought up at the court of King Henry II and his queen Catherine de Médicis with their own large family, assisted by relations on her mother’s side, the powerful Guises. Despite a charmed childhood of much luxury, including frequent hunting and dancing (at both of which she excelled), Mary’s education was not neglected, and she was taught Latin, Italian, Spanish, and some Greek. French now became her first language, and indeed in every other way Mary grew into a Frenchwoman rather than a Scot.

By her remarkable beauty, with her tall, slender figure (she was about 5 feet 11 inches), her red-gold hair and amber-coloured eyes, and her taste for music and poetry, Mary summed up the contemporary ideal of the Renaissance princess at the time of her marriage to Francis, eldest son of Henry and Catherine, in April 1558. Although it was a political match aimed at the union of France and Scotland, Mary was sincerely fond of her boy husband, though the marriage was probably never consummated.

The accession of Elizabeth Tudor to the throne of England in November 1558 meant that Mary was, by virtue of her Tudor blood, next in line to the English throne. Those Roman Catholics who considered Elizabeth illegitimate because they regarded Henry VIII’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon and his marriage to Anne Boleyn invalid even looked upon Mary as the lawful queen. Mary’s father-in-law, Henry II of France, thus claimed the English throne on her behalf. The death of Henry in 1559 brought Francis to the French throne and made Mary a glittering queen consort of France, until Francis’s premature death in December 1560 made her a widow at the age of 18.

Scottish History In Minutes – The Story of Mary, Queen of Scots

The life of Mary Stuart – better know as Mary, Queen of Scots – is possibly one of the most dramatic and tumultuous in history.

Mary was born at Linlithgow Palace, Scotland, became queen aged one week, departed for France as a child, and married the French dauphin in 1558 when she was still a teenager. Her husband, who became king of France as Francis II, died in 1561 and Mary returned to Scotland to rule that same year. All that before she was 20 years of age.

Her return was fairly harmonious, but this peaceful beginning was not to last. A few suspicious murders later – and after nearly 18 years’ imprisonment by her cousin Elizabeth I – Mary would find her head on the executioners block.
The catalyst can be pinpointed to July 29, 1565, when Mary took her half-cousin – and Elizabeth I’s cousin for that matter – for her second husband.

Many foreign suitors had been proposed, as the Scots looked to an overseas alliance, so it came as a shock when Mary announced her intention to marry an Englishman, Lord Darnley.

There were advantages though!

Mary’s new beau had quite an ancestry. He was a son of the Earl of Lennox and grandson of Margaret, daughter of Henry VII of England – the grandfather of the English queen, Elizabeth I.

Darnley was therefore among the nearest heirs to England’s throne, making Mary and her consort, a formidable combination. Mary was tall, but Darnley was taller – and handsome, too. Rather like Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Grey, Darnley was almost too perfect, but he possessed courtly grace and swept the widowed queen off her feet. A child and heir would surely follow.

Elizabeth I was none too pleased with her cousin’s choice of husband. The union made Mary stronger and Catholic pretensions to replace Elizabeth with Mary were only too clear.

A papal dispensation for the marriage of cousins – even half cousins – had not been obtained, yet the marriage still took place – in the early hours of the morning, suggesting certain and indecent haste.

Four days of balls and banquets followed, but it was soon apparent that good looks and proximity to the English throne were all that recommended Darnley. He was weak, insolent, arrogant and vicious.

The marriage was the signal for an attempted insurrection by Mary’s chief minister, Moray. This caused the first rift between Darnley and the man believed responsible for his eventual murder, James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell. Mary needed a leader for her army and Bothwell was the obvious choice. She could not say no to Darnley, however, who insisted the appointment be chosen by his father. It was a slight Bothwell would not forget.

Moray’s attempted insurrection was dealt with, but the writing was on the wall, as once-loyal subjects rose against Mary. Her honeymoon was over, too, and Mary started to see the light, rejecting Darnley’s demands that the Scots crown pass to his heirs should she die without issue.

A failed rebellion…

This also brought a new chief adviser for Mary, Italian, David Rizzio, who first entered service as a musician. Darnley suspected he was the chief obstacle to his designs on the crown. Rizzio, close to the queen and acting as an informer, fostered a dangerous unpopularity, not least because he was foreign.

An Italian chief advisor on top of an English king consort had put the Scottish nobles’ noses right out of joint.
It was here that Darnley showed his ruthless streak. In cahoots with Protestant chiefs, he marched into Mary’s cabinet, physically restraining her – even though she was queen and heavily pregnant at the time – while accomplices stabbed Rizzio more than 50 times.

Despite her grief, Mary played a canny game. She concealed her indignation from Darnley, while separating him from his allies and plotting revenge. Although they became estranged, Mary worked Darnley well, suggesting his co-conspirators couldn’t be trusted and that his life, as well as hers, was in danger.

Meanwhile, Bothwell moved centre stage. The queen and Bothwell were both married, yet the earl had his sights set on queen. This meant setting aside his wife and getting rid of Darnley.

The birth of James VI of Scotland!

Before this, Mary gave birth to a son, the future James VI of Scotland and I of England, but this did little to mend the rift between the new parents.

Darnley spoke of leaving Scotland, but soon fell ill with smallpox and was brought to Edinburgh to recover.
While the queen danced the night away at Holyrood, Darnley’s safe haven was gun-powdered. In what remains a mystery to this day, the house was blown to smithereens yet Darnley’s body was found in the garden without a scratch on him. It’s believed he escaped the explosion, only to be strangled or smothered.

The finger of suspicion pointed at Bothwell and rumours grew that the queen knew more than she confided. Bothwell was quickly tried, just as quickly acquitted, and within three months of Darnley’s murder, he and Mary married.
The Scots nobility decided they’d had enough and took matters into their own hands. They took up arms against their queen, whose loyal band melted without a blow struck. Left with no alternative, Mary surrendered to her own people.

Abdication followed, then escape and one final defeat, leading to her throwing herself on the mercy of Elizabeth I.
The rest is pitiable. Bothwell was exiled to Denmark, where he was chained up in a dark, dank dungeon and died
more than a decade later in 1578.

Elizabeth I didn’t seem to know what to do with her forceful cousin queen…

Mary suffered 19 years of house-arrests – albeit in remarkably better conditions than her husband. Elizabeth I didn’t seem to know what to do with her forceful cousin queen. Execution would be convenient, but to do so without due cause would set a precedent that might endanger Elizabeth’s own crown – and head.

The Babington Plot sealed the deal, and Mary’s fate. Letters, sanctioning the assassination of Elizabeth and said to be in Mary’s own hand, were intercepted, and Mary was put on trial for treason.

Mary spent her final days at Fortheringhay Castle, in the north of England, and was beheaded in the great hall there in 1587.

No key player in Mary’s rule of Scotland prospered – save one. Mary’s son James inherited the Scottish throne from his mother and then the English throne after Elizabeth’s death, becoming James VI of Scotland and I of England, uniting the two kingdoms in peace – for a short time at least.

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James VI & I

At Stirling Castle, between the hours of 9 o’clock and 10 o’clock in the morning of June 19, 1566, Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to her son James.
With James in her arms she presented him to Darnley with these words: “My Lord, here I protest to God, and as I shall answer to Him at the great day of judgment, this is your son, and no other man’s son and I am desirous that all here, both ladies and others, bear witness, for he is so much your own son that I fear it may be the worse for him hereafter.”
To William Standon, one of her soldiers, she said “this is the prince whom I hope shall first unite the two kingdoms of England and Scotland.” A wish that came true.
With this speech she had obviously given up her hope to succeed to the throne of her great grandfather, Henry VII.
As soon as James was born, Melville (the Queen’s secretary) was dispatched to England to inform Elizabeth of the birth. Melville was also instructed to ask Elizabeth to become Godmother. Melville arrived at Greenwich just as Elizabeth was giving a ball. When Cecil, Elizabeth’s Secretary of State, and Melville gave the news of the birth to Elizabeth, she ” ‘was filled with sudden melancholy … Interrupting the dance, she sank dejectedly into an armchair, and said to the ladies who surrounded her, that the Queen of Scots was mother of a fair son, while she was but a barren stock.’ ”
She did accept the invitation to become James Godmother but did not attend the baptism in the royal chapel at Stirling Castle. Instead sent the Countess of Argyle to represent her at the ceremony. Also in attendance at the baptism were the representatives of the French king and the Duke of Savoy who were the Godfathers. Notably absent from this auspicious occasion was Darnley even although he was present in the castle at the time.
In June of 1567, the Protestant lords rebelled. They had become increasingly unhappy with Mary (James’ mother) after her marriage to Bothwell. They arrested and imprisoned Mary in Lochleven Castle where she was forced to abdicate the throne of Scotland. James, was only a year old when he became James VI, King of Scotland.
Because of his young age a regent was appointed to act as head of state. In fact, during his minority a succession of regents were chosen to rule in his stead. The first regent was Mary’s half brother, James Stuart, Earl of Moray, Upon the Earl’s death in 1570, Matthew Stewart, Earl of Lennox, who was James grandfather, became the second regent. His regency didn’t last very long, as he died in 1571. The third regent was James’s guardian, John Erskine, the first Earl of Mar whose regency also didn’t last long, he died in 1572. The fourth and last of the regents was the very powerful James Douglas, Earl of Morton.
In spite of his mother’s Catholic faith, James was brought up in the Protestant religion. He was educated by men who had empathy for the Presbyterian church. His marriage to Anne of Denmark (a protestant country) no doubt pleased his Protestant subjects.
James was considered to be an intellectual and did write several books.
An interesting book on witchcraft came about after his return from Krondborg where his marriage to Anne took place. This book was the result of his attendance at the North Berwick Witch Trial. Apparently, several people were accused of using the black arts to create a storm hoping that it would sink the ship carrying James and Anne back to Scotland. He became quite troubled about this threat from witchcraft and wrote his book on demonology. As a result, hundreds of women were put to death for supposedly being witches.
“A custom loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs, and in the black, stinking fume thereof, nearest resembling the horrible Stygian smoke of the the pit that is bottomless.” James wrote these words in his publication “A Counterblaste to Tobacco (1604).” Without a doubt, James did not like smoking and made it quite plain what he thought about the “loathsome” habit!
Another interesting writing was The True Law of Free Monarchies in which he states that “the sovereign succeeds to his kingdom by right from God.” He believed that subjects owe absolute obedience, and that his rights as sovereign could not be attacked nor limited. Though he believed in the divine right of kings his Parliament most definitely did not.
He authorized a translation of the bible which is now known as the King James Version.
James married Anne Oldenburg of Denmark on 23 November, 1589. Anne was the daughter of Frederick II, King of Denmark and Sophia von Mecklenburg-Gustrow. It is said that Anne and James were at first quite close but after several years of marriage they drifted apart. They had quite a large family, eight children in all, of which only three survived. In fact, after the death of their daugher Sophia, Anne and James lived apart. Anne, eventually converted to Catholicism.
On 25 July, 1603, in Westminster Abbey, James and Anne were crowned. The two kingdoms were now united under one crown. However, they were in fact, two separate kingdoms each with their own legislatures and own administrative bodies. Being under one crown, they could not go to war with each other, they could not take opposing sides in foreign wars. Nor could they make any hostile agreements.
James misunderstood the differing powers of the two parliaments and conflicts arose especially in the areas of taxation and religion. There were also diametrically opposite opinions on Spain. England adamantly believed Spain to be its enemy and, therefore, a country to be defeated. On the other hand, James believed in resolving differences with Spain.
A list of troubles for James included:

The anger of Roman Catholics, resulting in plots to remove the King. One such plot was the Gunpowder Plot another was the Bye Plot.
A Catholic uprising in 1588, and a conspiracy in 1600 led by John Ruthven, Earl of Gowrie.
His plan for free trade between Scotland and England was denied.
His selling of honors and titles to shore up the debt-ridden treasury.
His dissolution of the second Parliament called the Addled Parliament whose purpose was to obtain new taxes. Ultimately, this Parliament failed to pass any legislation and failed to impose taxes. After the dissolution he ruled for seven years without a parliament.
Arranging the marriage of his eldest son to the daughter of the King of Spain hoping for an alliance with Spain. The marriage greatly angered the populace.
His execution of the well-liked, and admired Sir Walter Raleigh further hurt his popularity.
The Five Articles of Perth did not endear him either as they were interpreted as being too Catholic and Anglican-like therefore a threat to Scottish Presbyterians. (The Five Articles of Perth: (1) kneeling during communion, (2) private baptism, (3) private communion for the sick or infirm, (4) confirmation by a Bishop and (5) the observance of Holy Days.)


Margaret was baptised in St. Margaret's, Westminster, on St Andrew's Day. [2] She was named after Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby, her paternal grandmother. [3]

On 30 September 1497, James IV's commissioner, the Spaniard Pedro de Ayala concluded a lengthy truce with England, and now the marriage was again a serious possibility. James was in his late twenties and still unmarried. [4] The Italian historian Polydore Vergil said that some of the English royal council objected to the match, saying that it would bring the Stewarts directly into the line of English succession, to which the wily and astute Henry replied:

What then? Should anything of the kind happen (and God avert the omen), I foresee that our realm would suffer no harm, since England would not be absorbed by Scotland, but rather Scotland by England, being the noblest head of the entire island, since there is always less glory and honour in being joined to that which is far the greater, just as Normandy once came under the rule and power of our ancestors the English. [5]

On 24 January 1502, Scotland and England concluded the Treaty of Perpetual Peace, the first peace agreement between the two realms in over 170 years. The marriage treaty was concluded the same day and was viewed as a guarantee of the new peace. Margaret remained in England, but was now known as the "Queen of Scots". [6]

The marriage was completed by proxy on 25 January 1503 at Richmond Palace. The Earl of Bothwell was proxy for the Scottish king and wore a gown of cloth-of-gold at the ceremony in the Queen's great chamber. He was accompanied by Robert Blackadder, archbishop of Glasgow, and Andrew Forman, postulate of Moray. The herald, John Young, reported that "right notable jousts" followed the ceremony. Prizes were awarded the next morning, and the tournament continued another day. [7]

The new queen was provided with a large wardrobe of clothes, and her crimson state bed curtains made of Italian sarcenet were embroidered with red Lancastrian roses. Clothes were also made for her companion, Lady Catherine Gordon, the widow of Perkin Warbeck. [8] In May 1503, James IV confirmed her possession of lands and houses in Scotland, including Methven Castle, Stirling Castle, Doune Castle, Linlithgow Palace and Newark Castle in Ettrick Forest, with the incomes from the corresponding earldom and lordship lands. [9]

Later in 1503, months after the death of her mother, Margaret came to Scotland her progress was a grand journey northward. She left Richmond Palace on 27 June with Henry VII, and they travelled first to Collyweston in Northamptonshire. At York a plaque commemorates the exact spot where the Queen of Scots entered its gates. After crossing the border at Berwick upon Tweed on 1 August 1503, Margaret was met by the Scottish court at Lamberton. At Dalkeith Palace, James came to kiss her goodnight. He came again to console her on 4 August after a stable fire had killed some of her favourite horses. Her riding gear, including a new sumpter cloth or pallion of cloth-of-gold worth £127 was destroyed in the fire. [10]

At a meadow a mile from Edinburgh, there was a pavilion where Sir Patrick Hamilton and Patrick Sinclair played and fought in the guise of knights defending their ladies. On 8 August 1503, the marriage was celebrated in person in Holyrood Abbey. The rites were performed by the archbishop of Glasgow and Thomas Savage, archbishop of York. Two days later, on St Lawrence's day, Margaret went to mass at St Giles', the town's Kirk, as her first public appointment. [11] The details of the proxy marriage, progress, arrival, and reception in Edinburgh were recorded by the Somerset Herald, John Young. [12]

In 1503, Margaret married King James IV and had six children, of whom only one survived infancy:

  • James, Duke of Rothesay (21 February 1507, Holyrood Palace – 27 February 1508, Stirling Castle). [13]
  • Daughter (died shortly after birth 15 July 1508, Holyrood Palace).
  • Arthur Stewart, Duke of Rothesay (20 October 1509, Holyrood Palace – 14 July 1510, Edinburgh Castle). , born 10 April 1512 at Linlithgow Palace, [14] who died 14 December 1542 at Falkland Palace.
  • A daughter, who was born prematurely and died shortly after birth, November 1512, Holyrood Palace. [15] (30 April 1514, Stirling Castle – 18 December 1515, Stirling Castle).

In 1514, Margaret married Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus, and had one child:

In 1528, Margaret married Henry Stewart, 1st Lord Methven, and had one child:

By her marriage contract, Margaret was allowed a household with 24 English courtiers or servants. [16] These included her cook Hunt, her chamberer Margaret, John Camner who played the lute, her ushers Hamnet Clegg and Edmund Livesay, and her ladies in waiting, Eleanor Jones, Eleanor Verney, Agnes Musgrave, and Elizabeth Berlay, who subsequently married Lord Elphinstone. [17] Some of her ladies in waiting had been members of the household of Elizabeth of York. [18] Richard Justice and Harry Roper worked in the wardrobe, making her sheets, washing clothes, mending her tapestries and perfuming them with violet powder. Roper had been Page of the Beds to Elizabeth of York, and Justice was her Page of Robes. Roper returned to England to serve Catherine of Aragon. [19] Elizabeth Maxtoun, a Scottish woman, washed the queen's linen. Rich fabrics were provided by an Italian merchant Jerome Frescobaldi. [20] After a few years, she employed a Scottish cook Alexander Kerse. [21]

On Maundy Thursday, known as Skyre Thursday or "Cena Domini", it was the custom for the monarch and consort to give gifts to the poor and symbolically wash their feet. [22] [23] On 4 April 1504 Margaret gave 15 poor women blue gowns, shoes, a purse with 15 English pennies, and a wooden tankard with a jug and a plate, a token of the Last Supper. The number of poor women matched her age. [24] [25] Another custom was to give gifts on New Year's day, and in 1507 James IV gave Margaret a "serpent's tongue" set in gold with precious stones, which was believed to guard against poison. She gave a French knight Antoine d'Arces a gold salt cellar with an image of the Virgin Mary. [26] In January 1513 the gifts included gold rings for eight ladies of her chamber, made by John Aitkin, a goldsmith who worked in Stirling Castle, and the "two black ladies" Ellen and Margaret More were given 10 gold French crowns. [27]

Margaret suffered from nosebleeds, and an apothecary William Foular provided a blood stone or heliotrope as a remedy. Foular also sent the queen medicinal spices including pepper, cinnamon, "cubebarum", and "galiga", with glass urinals. [28] Margaret went on pilgrimages to Whitekirk in East Lothian, and in July 1507, after recovering from a period of ill-health, to Whithorn in Galloway, dressed in green velvet and riding on a saddle covered with the pelt of a reindeer, accompanied by her ladies and the court musicians. [29]

The king named the Scottish warship Margaret after her. The treaty of 1502, far from being perpetual, barely survived the death of Henry VII in 1509. His successor, the young Henry VIII, had little time for his father's cautious diplomacy, and was soon heading towards a war with France, Scotland's historic ally. In 1513, James invaded England to honour his commitment to the Auld Alliance, only to meet death and disaster at the Battle of Flodden. Margaret had opposed the war, but was still named in the royal will as regent for the infant king, James V, for as long as she remained a widow.

Parliament met at Stirling not long after Flodden, and confirmed Margaret in the office of regent. A woman was rarely welcome in a position of supreme power, and Margaret was the sister of an enemy king, which served to compound her problems. Before long a pro-French party took shape among the nobility, urging that she should be replaced by John Stewart, 2nd Duke of Albany, the closest male relative to the infant prince, and now third in line to the throne.

Albany, who had been born and raised in France, was seen as a living representative of the Auld Alliance, in contrast with the pro-English Margaret. She is considered to have acted calmly and with some degree of political skill. By July 1514, she had managed to reconcile the contending parties, and Scotland – along with France – concluded peace with England that same month. But in her search for political allies amongst the fractious Scottish nobility she took a fatal step, allowing good sense and prudence to be overruled by emotion and the personal magnetism of Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus.

In seeking allies Margaret turned more and more to the powerful House of Douglas. She found herself particularly attracted to the Earl of Angus, whom even his uncle, the cleric and poet Gavin Douglas, called a "young witless fool". [30] Margaret and Douglas were secretly married in the parish church of Kinnoull, near Perth, on 6 August 1514. Not only did this alienate the other noble houses but it immediately strengthened the pro-French faction on the council, headed by James Beaton, Archbishop of Glasgow. By the terms of the late king's will she had sacrificed her position as Regent of Scotland, and before the month was out, she was obliged to consent to the appointment of Albany.

In September, the Privy Council decided that she had also forfeited her rights to the supervision of her sons, whereupon in defiance she and her allies took the princes to Stirling Castle. In November, Margaret devised a code for letters sent to Henry VIII, saying that those signed "Your loving sister, Margaret R" would be genuine, and others might be the result of coercion by her enemies. [31]

Albany arrived in Scotland in May 1515, and was finally installed as regent in July. His first task was to get custody of James and Alexander, politically essential for the authority of the regency. Margaret, after some initial defiance, surrendered at Stirling in August. With the princes in the hands of their uncle, Margaret, now expecting a child by Angus, retired to Edinburgh. For some time her brother had been urging her to flee to England with her sons but she had steadily refused to do so, fearing such a step might lead to James's loss of the Scottish crown.

However, once Margaret's two sons were in the custody of their uncle, Margaret secretly accepted her brother's offer of her personal safety at the English Court. Pregnant with Angus' child, Margaret feared for her life under the rule of the Privy Council of Scotland. As queen dowager she was forced to beg permission from the Privy Council even to travel. She obtained permission to go to Linlithgow Palace for her lying-in.

She escaped to Tantallon Castle and then, via Blackadder Castle and Coldstream Priory, crossed the border to England. [32] She left valuable costume and jewels behind at Tantallon, including several velvet hoods embroidered with pearls with jewel-set front borders called "chaffrons", and a silk hat with a diamond jewel that had been a present from Louis XII of France. [33] [34] [35] Her jewels were later collected by Thomas Dacre's agent, John Whelpdale, the Master of College of Greystoke. [36] [37]

Margaret was received by Thomas Dacre, Henry's Warden of the Marches, and taken to Harbottle Castle in Northumberland. Here in early October she gave birth to Lady Margaret Douglas, the future Countess of Lennox and mother of Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, cousin and second husband to Mary, Queen of Scots, and father of the future James VI.

While still in the north of England, Queen Margaret learned of the death of her younger son, Alexander. Dacre hinted that Albany – cast in the role of Richard III — was responsible. Margaret, even in her vulnerable state, refused to accept this, saying that if he really aimed at securing the throne for himself the death of James would have suited his purpose better.

It was also at this time that she at last began to get the measure of Angus, who, with an eye on his own welfare, returned to Scotland to make peace with the Regent, "which much made Margaret to muse". When Henry VIII learned that Angus would not be accompanying his sister to London he said, "Done like a Scot". [38] However, all of Angus's power, wealth and influence was in Scotland to abandon the country would mean possible forfeiture for treason. In this regard he would have had before him the example of his kinsman James Douglas, 9th Earl of Douglas, who had fled to England the previous century, living out his life as a landless mercenary.

Margaret was well received by Henry and, to confirm her status, was lodged in Scotland Yard, the ancient London residence of the Scottish kings. In 1517, having spent a year in England, she returned north, after a treaty of reconciliation had been worked out by Albany, Henry and Cardinal Wolsey. Albany was temporarily absent in France – where he renewed the Auld Alliance once more and arranged for the future marriage of James V — but the queen dowager was received at the border by Sieur de la Bastie, his deputy, as well as by her husband.

Although Margaret and Angus were temporarily reconciled, it was not long before their relationship entered a phase of terminal decline. She discovered that while she was in England her husband had been living with Lady Jane Stewart, a former lover. This was bad enough what was worse, he had been living on his wife's money. In October 1518, she wrote to her brother, hinting at divorce:

"I am sore troubled with my Lord of Angus since my last coming into Scotland, and every day more and more, so that we have not been together this half-year… I am so minded that, an I may by law of God and to my honour, to part with him, for I wit well he loves me not, as he shows me daily." [39]

This was a difficult issue for Henry a man of conservative and orthodox belief, he was opposed to divorce on principle – which was highly ironic, considering his later marital career. Just as important, Angus was a useful ally and an effective counter-weight to Albany and the pro-French faction. Angered by his attitude, Margaret drew closer to the Albany faction and joined others in calling for his return from France. Albany, seemingly in no hurry to return to the fractious northern kingdom, suggested that she resume the regency herself. The dispute between husband and wife was set to dominate Scottish politics for the next three years, complicated even more by a bitter feud between Angus and James Hamilton, 1st Earl of Arran with bewildering rapidity Margaret sided with one and then the other.

Albany finally arrived back in Scotland in November 1521 and was warmly received by Margaret. It was soon rumoured that their cordial relations embraced more than politics. Angus went into exile while the Regent – with the full cooperation of the queen dowager – set about restoring order to a country riven by three years of intense factional conflict. Albany was useful to Margaret: he was known to have influence in Rome, which would help ease her application for a divorce. Angus and his allies spread the rumour that the two were lovers, to such effect that even the sober-headed Lord Dacre wrote to Wolsey, predicting that James would be murdered and Albany would become king and marry Margaret. But the relationship between the two was never more than one of calculated self-interest, as events were soon to prove.

In most essentials, Margaret remained an Englishwoman in attitude and outlook, and at root, she genuinely desired a better understanding between the land of her birth and her adopted home. Necessity demanded an alliance with Albany and the French faction, especially after the devastating border wars with England in the early 1520s.

But no sooner was Albany off the scene than she set about organising a party of her own. In 1524, the Regent was finally removed from power in a simple but effective coup d'état. With Albany once more in France (where he was to die in 1536), Margaret, with the help of Arran and the Hamiltons, brought James, now 12 years old, from Stirling to Edinburgh. [4] It was a bold and popular move.

In August, Parliament declared the regency at an end, and James was elevated to full kingly powers. In practice, he would continue to be governed by others, his mother above all. When Beaton objected to the new arrangements, Margaret had him arrested and thrown into jail. In November, Parliament formally recognised Margaret as the chief councillor to the King.

Margaret's alliance inevitably alienated other noble houses. Her situation was not eased when her brother, Henry VIII, allowed Angus to return to Scotland. Both of these factors were to some degree beyond her control. The most damaging move of all was not. She formed a new attachment, this time to Henry Stewart, a younger brother of Lord Avondale.

Stewart was promoted to senior office, angering the Earl of Lennox, among others, who promptly entered into an alliance with her estranged husband. That same November, when Parliament confirmed Margaret's political office, her war with Angus descended into a murderous farce. When he arrived in Edinburgh with a large group of armed men, claiming his right to attend Parliament, she ordered cannons to be fired on him from both the Castle and Holyrood House. When the two English ambassadors present at court, Thomas Magnus and Roger Radclyff, objected that she should not attack her lawful husband she responded in anger, telling them to "go home and not meddle with Scottish matters". [40]

Angus withdrew for the time being, but under pressure from various sources, the Queen finally admitted him to the council of regency in February 1525. It was all the leverage he needed. Taking custody of James, he refused to give him up, exercising full power on his behalf for a period of three years. James' experience during this time left him with an abiding hatred of both the house of Douglas and the English.

Margaret attempted to resist but was forced to bend to the new political realities. Besides, by this time her desire for a divorce had become obsessive, taking precedence over all other matters. She was prepared to use all arguments, including the widespread myth that James IV had not been killed at Flodden. Despite the coup of 1524, she corresponded warmly with Albany, who continued his efforts on her behalf in Rome. In March 1527, Pope Clement VII granted her petition. Because of the political situation in Europe at the time it was not until December that she learned of her good fortune. She married Henry Stewart on 3 March 1528, ignoring the pious warnings of Cardinal Wolsey that marriage was "divinely ordained" and his protests against the "shameless sentence sent from Rome". [41]

In June 1528, James V finally freed himself from the tutelage of Angus – who once more fled into exile – and began to rule in his own right. Margaret was an early beneficiary of the royal coup, she and her husband emerging as the leading advisors to the king. James created Stewart Lord Methven "for the great love he bore to his dearest mother". [42] It was rumoured – falsely – that the Queen favoured a marriage between her son and her niece Mary, but she was instrumental in bringing about the Anglo-Scottish peace agreement of May 1534.

The central aim of Margaret's political life – besides assuring her own survival – was to bring about a better understanding between England and Scotland, a position she held to through some difficult times. James was suspicious of Henry, especially because of his continuing support for Angus, a man he loathed with a passion. Even so, in early 1536 his mother persuaded him to meet with her brother. It was her moment of triumph and she wrote to Henry and Thomas Cromwell, now his chief advisor, saying that it was "by advice of us and no other living person". [43] She was looking for a grand occasion on the lines of the Field of Cloth of Gold, and spent a huge sum in preparation. In the end it came to nothing because there were too many voices raised in objection and because James would not be managed by his mother or anyone else. In a private interview with the English ambassador, William Howard, her disappointment was obvious – "I am weary of Scotland", she confessed. [44] Her weariness even extended to betraying state secrets to Henry.

Weary of Scotland she may have been: she was now even more tired of Lord Methven, who was proving himself to be even worse than Angus in his desire both for other women and for his wife's money. She was once again eager for divorce but proceedings were frustrated by James, whom she believed her husband had bribed. As so often in Margaret's life, tragedy and unhappiness were closely pursued by intrigue and farce. At one point she ran away toward the border, only to be intercepted and brought back to Edinburgh. Time and again she wrote to Henry with complaints about her poverty and appeals for money and protection – she wished for ease and comfort instead of being obliged "to follow her son about like a poor gentlewoman". [45]

In the first months of 1536 Henry VIII sent her £200 and a parcel of luxury fabrics including lengths of purple cloth, tawny cloth of gold tissue, russet tinsel, satin, and velvet. The fabric was for costume to wear to welcome her son's bride Madeleine of Valois. [46] Margaret welcomed Mary of Guise, James's second French bride to Scotland in June 1538. These two women, among the most formidable in Scottish history, established a good understanding. Mary made sure that her mother-in-law, who had now been reconciled with Methven, made regular appearances at court and it was reported to Henry that "the young queen was all papist, and the old queen not much less." [47]

Margaret died at Methven Castle on 18 October 1541. [48] Henry Ray, the Berwick Pursuivant, reported that she had palsy (possibly resulting from a stroke) on Friday and died on the following Tuesday. As she thought she would recover she did not trouble to make a will. She sent for King James, who was at Falkland Palace, but he did not come in time. Near the end she wished that the friars who attended her would seek the reconciliation of the King and the Earl of Angus. She hoped the King would give her possessions to her daughter, Lady Margaret Douglas. James arrived after her death, and he ordered Oliver Sinclair and John Tennent to pack up her belongings for his use. [49] She was buried at the Carthusian Charterhouse in Perth (demolished during the Reformation, 1559, its site now occupied by the former King James VI Hospital).

Where was Mary Queen of Scots born?

Discover facts about Mary Queen of Scots, who became queen of Scotland at just six days old, with our guide to the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots.

The release of the Universal Pictures movie Mary Queen of Scots has focused a new attention on the life of Mary, Scotland&rsquos queen from 14 December 1542 until her forced abdication on 24 July 1567. For more facts on Mary&rsquos life, click here.

Mary Queen of Scots was born on 8 December 1542 at Linlithgow Palace, a grand palace on the banks of Linlithgow Loch, in the town of Lintlithgow, current-day West Lothian, just fifteen miles west of Edinburgh. Mary was the daughter of the reigning king James V and his wife Mary of Guise, but sadly tragedy hit the family just six days later when James died at Falkland Palace following Scotland&rsquos defeat at the battle of Solway Moss.

At the time of Mary&rsquos babyhood, Linlithgow Palace had been in existence for more than a century, after a huge fire had destroyed a previous building that had stood on the site since the 12 th century. Mary&rsquos great-grandfather James III and grandfather James IV had made improvements to the palace, and Mary&rsquos father James V was born there on 10 April 1512. It was he who added a grand outer gateway (shown here) and splendid courtyard fountain that still exists today (the fountain operates every Sunday in July and August).

The palace was a favourite with the Stewart monarchs, who used it as an escape from the royal court at Edinburgh, and as a way of breaking the journey between the residences of Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle. When the Stewarts stayed here, the palace would have been a splendid and luxurious residence with splendid furnishings, sumptuous wall hangings and the very best food, drink and courtly entertainment.

Visit Linlithgow Palace

Today, Linlithgow Palace is cared for by Historic Environment Scotland and is open to visitors throughout the year (closed 25 and 26 December and 1 and 2 January). Find out more at the HES website. The distinctive spire of St Michael&rsquos Parish Church can be seen from the palace and its grounds and it was here that Mary Queen of Scots was baptised.

For more on Mary's life, get the Mary Queen of Scots magazine.


Rival Queens: The betrayal of Mary Queen of Scots by Kate Williams

One of the most recent releases about Mary&rsquos life and queenships is Rival Queens, that explores the relationship between Mary and Elizabeth I. Kate Williams explains the basis of the rivalry between the two monarchs and discovers why these two kindred spirits embarked upon a collision course that would end with Mary&rsquos execution at the hands of the English queen.

Scotland, 1561-68

Mary knew very well that she was succeeding to a most troubled heritage. But after her recent years of loss and grief, she was determined to make a bright future. Also, in an age of religious persecution which earned her cousin Mary Tudor the nickname ‘Bloody Mary,’ Mary was determined that every one of her Scottish subjects should worship God as their conscience bade there would be no religious persecution under her rule. In this, she resembled her cousin Elizabeth I.

copy of a French miniature of Mary, painted c1565

The Scots received their new queen with great joy and celebration. At once, she began to try and help them within a year of her arrival, one-sixth of all Church benefices was given to the Protestant ministers to relieve their poverty. She also attempted to strengthen the power of the Crown against Scotland’s notoriously difficult-to-control nobles. Of course, such a strategy would lead to more peace and stability within the realm. As a result, she was popular with the common people but not the nobility she played croquet, golfed, went for hunts and archery practice, sung, danced, and, in general, showed an admirable zest for life. In 1562 the English ambassador reported to Elizabeth, ‘When the soldiers came back from the night’s sentry-duty, she said she was sorry she was not a man to be all night on the fields and to walk the causeway with buff-coat, steel-helmet, buckler, and broadsword.’

In 1563, Mary began the traditional ‘royal progress’ throughout Scotland. In 1564, the fourth Earl of Atholl organized a great hunt in honor of the queen and, yet again, Mary charmed all who met her. Yet she also treaded dangerous ground with her policy of non-discrimination and desire to unify the nation, taking power away from the independent nobles. Though a Catholic, Mary became friends with one of the most learned Protestants of the time, George Buchanan. In the political realm, Mary kept up peaceful relations with France, Spain, and England, though she never met Elizabeth face-to-face. But, in 1566, her patience was tried by the English ambassador’s persistent and obvious spying she ordered him out of the kingdom and declared him persona non grata. And her peace with France and Spain was kept without a treaty, though a treaty would have given Scotland some measure of protection against England in the possibility of conflict. However, Mary was aware that any treaty could compromise her subjects, involving them in yet another war and causing strife. Above all, she wanted peace and prosperity, and she kept Scotland safely distanced from political machinations. When the threat to Mary’s reign finally came, it was not from one of these outside powers indeed, it came from within her own nation.

Mary’s second husband, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley

As queen, Mary was more than aware that she should marry and provide heirs to the throne. In July of 1565, she wed a cousin named Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, a weak, vain, and unstable young man like Mary, he was also a grandchild of Henry VIII’s sister Margaret. Why Mary wed Darnley remains a mystery. He was superficially charming and, unlike most men, taller than the queen. He was also fond of courtly amusements and thus a nice change from the dour Scottish lords who surrounded her. But he never seemed to care for Mary and sought far more power than she was willing to give him. When she was six months pregnant in March of 1566, Darnley joined a group of Scottish nobles who broke into her supper-room at Holyrood Palace and dragged her Piedmontese secretary, David Riccio, into another room and stabbed him to death. They claimed Riccio had undue influence over her foreign policy but, in reality, they probably meant to cause Mary, from watching this horrific crime, to suffer a miscarriage, thus losing her child and her own life as well since one usually meant the other in the 16th century. Mary certainly believed that Darnley, angry because she had denied him the crown matrimonial, wanted to kill her and the child, thus becoming King of Scots. But it is unlikely that, had he been successful, Darnley would have long survived his wife.

After Riccio’s death, the nobles kept Mary prisoner at Holyrood Palace. Entering the later stages of her pregnancy, she was desperate to escape and – somehow – won over Darnley and they escaped together. Three months later the future James VI of Scotland was born and congratulations came from all over Europe. Still young and healthy after the birth, Mary now had an heir. This was the apex of her reign, her greatest and happiest moment. In December 1566 James was baptized in the Chapel Royal of Stirling Castle. Mary, once the fragile last hope of the Stewart dynasty, was just 23 years old and had fulfilled one of a monarch’s greatest duties – providing a healthy son and heir. Elizabeth of England, ten years older, watched these events with interest for, even then, she knew her own future would be – by choice – unmarried and childless. She could well imagine that Mary’s son would be her heir as well.

But this future soon seemed perilous for James’s birth provided only a temporary calm. The nobles who had plotted with Darnley now felt betrayed by him after all, they had captured the queen and her potential heir, murdered her dear friend, and were in a position to demand anything. But Darnley’s decision to help Mary escape infuriated them. In February of 1567 they had Darnley’s house, Kirk o’ Field, blown up Darnley’s strangled body was found in the garden. Many nobles were implicated, most particularly James Hepburn, the Earl of Bothwell. Certainly Bothwell’s later life (imprisoned in Denmark, he died in 1578, virtually insane) was a degree of punishment for this crime. However, in the immediate aftermath of Darnley’s murder, he met with Mary about six miles outside of Edinburgh. He had 600 men with him and asked to escort Mary to his castle at Dunbar he told her she was in danger if she went to Edinburgh. Mary, unwilling to cause further bloodshed and understandably terrified, followed his suggestions. Bothwell’s noble friends had previously pressed her to marry him and he, too, had told her she needed a strong husband who could help unify the nobles behind her. Mary had refused the proposal then, preferring to marry Darnley, but now she knew herself to be powerless. She also had an infant son to consider. So she consented to wed Bothwell, hoping that this would finally stabilize the country. Also, Bothwell showed Mary an agreement the nobles had signed which indicated they were prepared to accept him as their overlord. In May 1567 they wed at Holyrood and Mary wrote to the foreign courts that it was the right decision for her country.

Mary’s third husband, James Hepburn, Lord Bothwell

But the nobles were still not to be trusted. Now, they were angry that Bothwell would be all-powerful and they decided to wage war against him. Barely a month after the marriage, rebel nobles and their forces met Mary’s troops at Carberry Hill, 8 miles south-east of Edinburgh. The nobles demanded that Mary abandon Bothwell, whom they had earlier ordered her to wed. She refused and reminded them of their earlier order. To avoid the bloodshed of battle, she turned herself over and the rebels took her to Edinburgh while Bothwell struggled to rally troops of his own. Mary was taken to Lochleven Castle and held prisoner in that island fortress fearing for her own life, she became desperately ill. She was forced to sign a document abdicating the crown in favor of her year-old son. At the end of that month, July 1567, James was crowned king and James Stewart, the Earl of Moray, Mary’s bastard half-brother, became Regent. Moray wasted no time in repaying Mary’s earlier kindness to him by stealing her son and jewels. Of course, Scottish history reveals that all these nefarious nobles came to a bad end – Moray was murdered just 3 years later and the next regents were also killed in fact, her son James had one of the traitors executed in 1580, when he was just a teenager.

Mary’s cause was aided in 1568 when John Hay, before his execution, made a statement from the scaffold that told how the nobles had murdered Darnley. Before this, the nobles had attempted to make the people believe Mary was responsible. Now, she was able to win sympathy and friends. George Douglas, one of the brothers of her keeper at Lochleven, helped her escape. After 10 months of captivity, she was free to fight for the throne. Her supporters gathered an army and, on their way to Dumbarton Castle, a battle was fought at Langside, Glasgow. Mary’s forces lost and she was forced to flee with her supporters. Against all advice, she was determined to go south and ask Elizabeth I for support. As James’s godmother and Mary’s cousin as well as a fellow independent Queen, Mary felt certain Elizabeth would help her. As most know, this was the beginning of yet another chapter of suffering and misery for Mary.

Mary Queen of Scots is born in Linlithgow Palace

Today on December 8th 1542, Mary Queen of Scots is born.

Mary Stuart, commonly known as Mary Queen of Scots, was born at Linlithgow Palace in Scotland. At the time, she was the only legitimate, surviving heir of King James V of Scotland. Mary’s two older brothers, Robert and James, had both prematurely died before she was born. She succeeded her father as Queen of Scotland only six days later because of his sudden and unexpected death. Scotland’s nobles arranged for her to marry Francis II, the Dauphin of France, when she was five years old. As a result, Mary was immediately shipped off to France where she spent most of her childhood. Regents were appointed to rule over the kingdom in her absence.

Mary experienced a wonderful upbringing, enjoying the many luxuries of living in the French court. In 1558, she married Francis and became queen consort after her husband was crowned King of France. However, Francis died shortly after becoming king due to an ear infection. Mary decided to return to Scotland and assume her rightful place on the throne. She next married her first cousin, Henry Stewart, the Earl of Darnley. Her second husband was a very ambitious man who quickly became a political liability. His erratic behavior raised eyebrows across the Scottish nobility. The couple did have one son together, James VI, who eventually reigned as the first King of Scotland and England. Darnley was mysteriously killed by an explosion outside Edinburgh and foul play was suspected.

Turmoil just seemed to follow Mary and her political enemies had her captured and imprisoned. Under immense pressure, they forced her to abdicate the throne in favor of her infant son. She managed to temporarily escape and raise an army to overthrow the nobles but was swiftly defeated. Mary asked her first cousin, Elizabeth I of England, to assist her in retaking the throne. However, Elizabeth strongly distrusted her and eventually had her executed for treason. Mary is remembered as a controversial monarch who undoubtedly suffered through a life of constant struggle and tragedy.

Watch the video: The REAL Cause Of Elizabeth I Death