Queen of Scotland
1542 – 1587 A.D.
Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland from 1542 to 1567, born at Linlithgow Palace, the daughter of James V of Scotland by Mary of Guise. Her father died within a week of her birth, and she was proclaimed queen. Negotiations with France having been concluded for her marriage to the Dauphin, Mary was sent to France in 1548 and at the French Court received her education. Ten years later she married Dauphin and during his short reign as Francis II she exerted supreme influence.
On his death in 1560 Mary returned to Scotland, where her French Catholic training and the new Scottish reformation made her position a hard one. She diplomatically yielded to the force of circumstances and surrounded herself with Protestant advisers, but in 1565 married her cousin, Lord Darnley, hoping to win by this marriage the English Catholics, with whom Darnley had great influence, and to unite all Catholic claims to the English throne, Darnley being next in succession to Mary. His weak ambition made him the tool of the Protestant plot against David Rizzio, a favorite of the queen, her confidential advisor, an Italian of great ability. On March 9, 1566, Rizzio was brutally dragged from Mary’s dining room, and assassinated in the palace of Holyrood. Mary dissembled her indignation at her husband’s treachery, succeeded in detaching him from the conspirators and persuaded him to escape with her and deny all complicity in their designs.
Three months later Mary gave birth to a son, afterwards James I of England. She was apparently reconciled to Darnley, though meanwhile showing more and more favor to James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, a needy and profligate noble. In January, 1567, Darnley fell ill, and Mary brought him to Edinburgh, where he was lodged in a small mansion. Here on February 9th the queen visited him, and left him about ten o’clock in the evening. Early the next morning the house in which Darnley slept was blown up, and his lifeless body was found in a neighboring garden. Bothwell was undoubtedly the murderer, and it is a matter of controversy whether or not Mary was privy to the deed.
A mock trial was held, Bothwell was acquitted, and on May 15, 1567 – three months after her husband’s murder – Mary became Bothwell’s wife. This act turned all the nobles against her, she had to abandon Bothwell and surrender herself to the confederated lords who compelled her to sign and abdication in favor of her son.
Escaping from her island prison in May 1568, in spite of the entreaties of her best friends, she crossed into England and threw herself on the protection of Queen Elizabeth, only to find herself a prisoner for life. Fully nineteen years were spent by Mary as a prisoner in various castles, until in April, 1585, she was placed in the care of Sir Amyas Paulet, and here all opportunity was given her to become entangled in the conspiracy of Anthony Babington against Elizabeth. For this she was brought to trial, and though she denied all complicity and conducted the whole of her own defence with courage and ability, she was found guilty, and beheaded on February 8, 1587, at Fotheringay Castle, meeting her fate with composure and dignity.
Of great ability and varied accomplishments, reputed to be the most beautiful woman of her time, Mary Stuart’s whole life was dramatic, and it has never ceased to interest poets and historians, while numerous dramas have been written about her.
Reference: Famous Women; An Outline of Feminine Achievement Through the Ages With Life Stories of Five Hundred Noted Women By Joseph Adelman. Copyright, 1926 by Ellis M. Lonow Company.