Mary Queen of Scots, tragedy figure or failed Machiavellian Princess

12/11/2010 at 10:04 pm (Renaissance)

Born in 1542 she was the daughter of James V Stuart and Mary of Guise of France and became queen a few weeks later when her father died.

At birth she was promised in marriage to Henry VIII’s son Edward later Edward VI in an English bid to break the Auld Alliance, however Mary of Guise was made regent which lead to renewed vigour in the alliance and eventually a short disastrous war with England.

In 1548 Mary was betrothed to the French Dauphin and sent to France to live. In 1558 her husband became Francis II of France them both being sixteen, however Francis was to die 2 years later.

She returned to Scotland and found herself in the middle of the Catholic/Protestant troubles engulfing the country. Despite being a Catholic Mary tolerated the Protestants and kept high level Protestant advisors which annoyed the Catholics and it was the Catholics who lead the first rebellion against her in 1562.

In 1565 Mary married her cousin Henry Stuart, Henry was a Catholic and the union lead to a Protestant rebellion

A year after her marriage things started to go wrong as her husband wanted more power and she refused to give it to him, this lead to him being sent away by her. After a year away he returned to her and was shortly murdered, most likely by the Earl of Bothwell who was quickly tried and acquitted in a mock trial.

Later that year (1567) Mary was kidnapped by Bothwell while visiting Stirling where she was taken back to his castle and allegedly raped. A few days later Bothwell divorced his wife and Mary and Bothwell went to Edinburgh and had a Protestant marriage.

Most Scottish nobles rose up against the marriage, Bothwell fled to Scandinavia and died in prison, Mary was taken prisoner in Loch Leven Castle.

In 1568 Mary escaped from prison and raised a small army bus was quickly defeated and fled into exile in England.

Mary’s relationship with Elizabeth was poor because Mary previously had refused to renounce her claim on the English throne and recognise Elizabeth as rightful queen.

At first Elizabeth was reluctant to help Mary regain her throne but eventually was persuaded to by the French ambassador; however Lord Burley put a condition on this aid, that Mary officially end the Auld Alliance which Mary refused to do. Shortly after a Catholic assassination attempt was made on Elizabeth with the intent of putting Mary on the throne of England. This lead to Elizabeth imprisoning Mary for the next 18 years.

Frustrated by her imprisonment Mary finally plotted to overthrow Elizabeth for the crown of England but her whole conspiracy was being monitored by England’s spymaster Francis Walsingham who was intercepting her letters. In 1587 she was beheaded for her part in the plot.


  1. Melisende said,

    Enjoyed the article – thanks.

  2. Shie-ey said,

    Greed and honour sometimes bring nothing but sadness.

  3. angie said,

    when, where, and who drew the picture above?

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