(1542 - 1587)
Queen of Scots
- Mary was the only surviving heir to King James V of Scotland. She was only 6 days old when her father died and was crowned when she was 9 months old.
- A marriage was arranged for Mary to the Dauphin of France and she was sent to live in France when she was just 5 years old, living Scotland to the rule of competing regents.
- The reign of King Francis II and Queen Mary in France was short lived, with Francis surviving for only 1 year after his coronation, after which Mary returned to Scotland.
- During this time England had gone through the children of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I was on the throne. Many Catholics saw Elizabeth as being illegitimate (as her mother’s marriage to Henry VIII had been declared invalid) and considered Mary to be the Queen of England as well as Scotland.
- Queen Mary married her cousin Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, however their marriage was short lived, as Lord Darnley died in mysterious circumstances just 2 years after their marriage.
- Some historians point to Mary as a key figure in the plot to kill her husband, after Darnley had her private secretary, David Rizzio, killed in front of her under suspicion of being her lover and father of her child.
- This marriage did, however, result in the birth of a son, James, who would later become King James VI (Scotland) and I (England).
- The Earl of Bothwell, who was charged (and later acquitted) of Lord Darnley’s murder, kidnapped Mary and later married her.
- This marriage was also short lived as the couple were driven apart through war, with Bothwell going into exile, being imprisoned in Denmark becoming insane and dying just 10 years after kidnapping and marrying Mary.
- Mary was forced to abdicate from the Scottish throne in favour of her son James and ended up in protective custody in England where she expected assistance from her cousin Elizabeth I to regain her throne.
- When assistance from Elizabeth failed to come Mary participated in many plots to free herself, regain her Scottish throne and take Elizabeth’s throne.
- These plots led to her trial and execution by beheading.
This post is part of my "Well behaved women rarely make history" series.