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Mary Queen of Scots (1542 - 1567)

Name: Mary Queen of Scots
Father: James V King of Scotland
Mother: Mary of Guise
Relation to Charles III: 11th great grandmother
House of: Stewart
Born: December 7, 1542 at Linlithgow Palace
Ascended to the throne: December 14, 1542 aged 6 days
Crowned: September 9, 1543 at Stirling Castle
Married:(1) Francis II King of France, April 24, 1558
Married:(2) Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley , July 29, 1565
Married:(3) James, Earl Bothwell, May 15, 1567
Children: James VI (James I of England)
Died: February 8, 1587, executed at Fotheringhay Castle, Northants, aged 44 years, 2 months, and 2 days
Buried at: Peterborough Cathedral, removed to Westminster Abbey in 1612
Succeeded by: her son James VI (James I of England)

Mary Queen of Scots daughter of James V of Scotland was born at Linlithgow Palace, West Lothian, Scotland, on 8 December 1542, and became Queen of Scots when she was six days old. She was first promised as a wife to Henry VIIIs son Edward in the Treaty of Greenwich in 1543, but no sooner had the treaty been arranged than Catholic Scottish nobles opposed the plan and she was betrothed to Francis son of Henry II King of France. They were married in Paris on 24 April 1558, and Francis became King of France in 1559 but his reign was brief as he died the following year

Mary returned to Scotland which, although she was Catholic, had officially become protestant following the religious reforms of John Knox. She ruled successfully but extravagantly with her French styled court frowned upon by the Calvinist Scottish nobility. In 1565 Mary married her second cousin Henry Lord Darnley, but he was used by her enemies against her. Her secretary David Riccio was murdered when he burst into her chamber with a group of conspirators. Mary and Darnley’s son James was born in June 1566, but their marriage was turbulent and he was found murdered at Kirk o’Field near Edinburgh on 10 February 1567. She was generally believed to be behind the crime.

Her subsequent marriage to Earl Bothwell, who was possibly Darnley’s murderer, brought conflict with the Scottish nobles who imprisoned her in Lochleven Castle where she was forced to renounce the throne to her infant son James VI. Mary escaped from Lochleven, but was defeated near Glasgow at the battle of Langside in 1568. She fled South to England where she believed that Queen Elizabeth I of England would support her restoration.

However, Roman Catholic plots against Queen Elizabeth led Elizabeth's ministers to demand Mary's execution: 'so long as there is life in her, there is hope; so as they live in hope, we live in fear'. Elizabeth was reluctant to sign the death warrant, but Mary was executed at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire on 8 February 1587, at the age of 44. She was buried in Peterborough Cathedral. In 1612 her son by then James I of England and James VI of Scotland had her body exhumed and placed in the vault of King Henry VII's Chapel in Westminster Abbey.

Mary Queen of Scots's Signature

Timeline for Mary Queen of Scots

Year Event
1542One-week-old Mary, succeeds to the throne on the death of her father James V
1543At the Treaty of Greenwich Mary is betrothed to Prince Edward son of Henry VIII of England, but the Scottish Lords refuse to ratify the treaty preferring an alliance with France,
1558Mary, Queen of Scots, marries French Dauphin, Francis Valois (he was aged 14) at Notre Dame in Paris. She adopts the French spelling of Stuart for her surname
1559John Knox returns to Scotland from Geneva to promote Calvinism.
1559Mary becomes Queen of France when her husband becomes King
1560Parliament legislates protestant reformation of the Church of Scotland.
1560Treaty of Edinburgh between France and England, recognising sovereignty of Mary Queen of Scots and her first husband Francis II
1560Latin Mass prohibited in Scotland by Parliament as Protestant faith gains the ascendancy
1561Mary Queen of Scots lands at Leith on her return from France, after the death of her husband, King Francis II
1565Mary marries her cousin Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. The marriage is a disaster
1566Darnley jealous of Mary's Italian secretary David Rizzio, bursts into her room at Holyrood and Rizzio is murdered.
1566Mary Queen of Scots gives birth to the future King James VI of Scotland and I of England
1567Lord Darnley, husband of Mary Queen of Scots, assassinated
1567Mary marries Earl of Bothwell. The Scottish Lords imprison Mary in Loch Leven castle.
1567Mary Queen of Scots abdicates and her 1 year old son the young James VI accedes to Scottish throne. William Cecil, English Secretary of State, arranges for Mary's half brother James Stewart, Earl of Moray, to return from France and be appointed regent.