Saturday, October 27, 2007

Mary Stuart

(1542 - 1587)
Queen of Scotland (1542 - 1567)

Mary was born (7/12/1542) at Linlithgow, Scotland. She was the daughter of James V of Scotland (d.1542) and Mary of Guise (d.1560). From the day of her birth, Mary was betrothed to the future Edward VI of England (1542) - the vetoing of this marriage led to war with England.

The Scottish were defeated at Pinkie (10 Sept. 1547) by forces of Duke of Somerset. A French alliance was decided upon. Mary was sent to the French court aged 5 (1548), where she received a Catholic upbringing under her Guise uncles. Mary married (1) the Dauphin Francis (King Francis II of France) at Paris, France (24/4/1558). Her husband succeeded to the French throne (1559).

Mary became Queen of France but shortly after, Francis died (1560/1561). Mary was returned to Scotland (1561), and promptly proclaimed herself rightful Queen of England as the granddaughter of Henry VIII's sister Margaret Tudor. Back in Scotland, Mary had to adapt to the anti-monarchial, anti-Catholic, anti-French elements that had dominated Scotland in her absence. Then Mary embarked upon the illconsidered marriage (2) to her cousin Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley (29/7/1565) at Edinburgh, Scotland. Mary soon gave birth to a son, James VI & I (1566).

The following year Mary was caught up in the scandal surrounding the murders of Riccio and Darnley (1567). Mary made mistake upon mistake. Soon after both deaths, Mary made a scandalous marriage (3) to James Hepburn, 4th Earl Bothwell (c.1567), who just happened to have been recently acquitted of Darnley's murder, was then hastily divorced from his wife, and was swiftly promoted to the Dukedom of Orkney and Shetlands. There was an immediate uprising of Scottish lords which resulted in military defeat for Mary at Carberry Hill and Langside (1568).

Mary fled Scotland for England, and threw herself on the mercy of Elizabeth I, who kept her imprisoned in various strongholds. Following intrigues to rescue her and place her on the throne of England, Mary was placed on trial (Oct.1586). She was found guilty of treason and sentanced to death (25/10/1586). After delaying for as long as possible, Elizabeth reluctantly signed Mary's death warrant (1/2/1587) and Mary was executed at Fotheringhay (8/2/1587).

~~~ Melisende (first pub: 1998 Women of History)

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