Mary Queen of Scots Biography

Mary Queen of Scots Biography
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    Mary, queen of Scots was one of the most fascinating and controversial monarchs of 16th century Europe. At onetime, she claimed the crowns of four nations - Scotland, France, England and Ireland. Her physical beauty and kindheart were acknowledged even by her enemies. Yet she lacked the political skills to rule successfully in Scotland. Her second marriage was unpopular and ended in murder and scandal; her third was even less popular and ended in forcedabdication in favor of her infant son. She fled to England in 1568, hoping for the help of her cousin, Elizabeth I. Her  presence was dangerous for the English queen, who feared Catholic plotting on Mary's behalf. The two queens never met and Mary remained imprisoned for the next nineteen years. She was executed in 1587, only forty-four years old. Byorders of the English government, all of her possessions were burned. In 1603, upon Elizabeth's death, Mary's son became king of England as James I.  FURTHER READING You may also view a chronologyof Mary's life, read Primary Sources, including letters written by Mary,view portraits of Maryand her contemporaries, testyour knowledge of Mary's life at Tudor Quizzes, and learn more about her famous cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. Click here to view sourcesfor this biography; andclick here for weblinks related to Mary, queen of Scots. My personal favorite isThe Marie Stuart Society of Scotland website. NEWSMay 2007 From Mary Boleyn to Mary qoS..... Nowit's ScarlettJohansson playing Mary, queen of Scotsin a new film. April 2004 Two new studies of Mary, queen of Scots have arrivedin bookstores. Jane Dunn's   Elizabeth and Mary:Cousins, Rivals, Queens is a dual biography with a beautiful selection of portraits and judicious use of  primary sources. John Guy's  Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart  (published in the UK as  My Heart is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots )   is thefirst biography dedicated to the Scottish queen in over thirty years. Its central thesis argues that Burghley wasthe true villain of Mary's story. 'As a sinner I am truly conscious of having often offended myCreator and I beg him to forgive me, but as a Queen andSovereign, I am aware of no fault or offence for which I have to  render account to anyone here below.'  Mary, queen of Scots to her jailer, Sir  Amyas Paulet; October 1586  In November 1542, King James V of Scotland, lay dying at his belovedFalkland Palace, built just five years earlier. He was devastated by hisarmy's defeat by the English at Solway Moss and saw little hope for thefuture. At Falkland, he was told that Mary of Guise, his French-born wifeonce wooed by Henry VIII, had given birth to a daughter at LinlithgowPalace on December 8. This was a feast-day in honor of the Virgin Mary andmany took it as a good omen for the little princess; for her father, however,it was otherwise. Uponreceiving news of Mary's birth, he reportedly said,'Woe is me. My dynastycame with a lass. It willgo with a lass.' James'sancestor, Robert II, had become King of Scots in1371. The son of Robertthe Bruce's daughter Marjorie and Walter, theHigh Steward of Scotland, Robert wasnearest in succession tothe throne. He called hisnew dynasty 'Stewart,' avariation on his father'stitle; in France, it wasspelled Stuart. Mary'sfather, James V, believedthis lineage had endedwith his daughter's birth.He certainly never contemplated that his grandson would one day rule both Scotland and its oldenemy, England. James died within a week of Mary's birth and, before shewas even a year old, the child was crowned queen of Scots.The regents of Scotland made a treaty with Henry VIII in which Edward,Henry's long-awaited and precious son, would wed Mary. But Henry VIII became increasingly erratic and despotic in his later years and continued tosend his army north. In 1546, Henry also encouraged the murder of CardinalBeaton, a great Scots patriot; the proof - shortly before the murder, he hadoffered one thousand pounds for expenses associated with a plot to murder Beaton. After this, the Scots were determined to avoid the proposed Englishmarriage. In July 1548, they sent the five-year-old Mary to France, her mother's homeland. The Scots Parliament had agreed to her marriage withFrancis, the heir of Henry II, king of France from 1547 to 1559. Mary sailedfrom Dumbarton Castle to France, using this route to avoid English ships patrolling the English Channel. According to most contemporary reports,Mary was exceptionally lovely (even in an age when most noble womenwere accorded the title of 'fair' or 'beautiful'), intelligent and full of vitality.  One French observer wrote admiringly: 'It is not possible to hope for morefrom a Princess on this earth.' From this vantage point, Mary's life seemedto be set on a glorious course; but like a later foreign queen of France, MarieAntoinette, Mary's life was not destined to be peaceful and happy.When Mary left for Scotland, she traveled with the children of Scotland'snobility, including the 'Four Maries,' the women who would stay with her throughout her later imprisonment and execution. They were Mary Fleming,Mary Seton, Mary Beaton and Mary Livingstone. Mary Seton was the onlyone to die unmarried and lived on until 1615, praying for Mary's soul andgiving alms in her memory. The group arrived in France in August 1548. France, 1548-61 Mary was given a royal welcome in France by King Henry II. He orderedthat she would have precedence over his own daughters as she wassovereign of an independent country and also because she was to wed hisheir, the Dauphin. The king also became very fond of the child, saying, 'Thelittle Queen of Scots is the most perfect child I have ever seen.' While inFrance, Mary's maternal grandmother, Antoinette de Guise, wrote to her daughter in Scotland that Mary was 'very pretty, graceful and self-assured.'Mary was 5 when she first met the four-year-old Dauphin, her betrothedhusband. According to most contemporaries, they were close andaffectionate with one another even as children. They traveled from one royal palace to another - Fountaineblea to Meudon, or to Chambord or Saint-Germain. They were always attended to by a retinue of servants and, eventhen, Mary had developed a fondness for animals, especially dogs, whichwas to continue throughout her life. Mary was also educated in thetraditional manner of French princesses; she spoke French and learnedLatin, Italian, Spanish and a little Greek. She learned to dance, sing, play thelute as well as converse on religious matters. Her religious tutor was the prior of Inchmahome, a Scottish priest. When she was seven, her mother came to France to visit her; when Mary of Guise returned to Scotland,neither realized that they would never see each other again.By the age of eleven, Mary was deemed to be as intelligent and well-spokenas a woman of twenty-five by her doting father-in-law. It is worth notingthat the Guise family regarded Mary as one of their own; not only was betrothed to the heir to the throne but her mother was a Guise as well. Her uncle, Cardinal Guise, taught her about statecraft, perhaps encouraging her natural feelings of clemency and mercy. In fact, Mary was to be remarkablyfree from bigotry during her shortreign in Scotland, even towards her subjects of a different religion.In 1555, Mary sent back letters to her mother in Scotland to be used for administrative purposes and it is fromthese that we first see her royal  signature 'MARIE R'. In 1558, she married the Dauphin in an incredible celebration in Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. Exceptionally tall for awoman in the 16th century, Mary was every inch the regal Queen; she hadan oval face, shapely chin, and small mouth which were set off by her golden-red hair, her large forehead, and hazel eyes. Many considered Maryto be the most beautiful princess in Europe, much as they had thought of her relative, Henry VIII's sister, Mary, who had also come to France as queen for a short while. Mary was not always in the best of health but, unlike her husband, there were no immediate concerns for her life.In 1558,Queen Mary Iof England passed away and Henry II of Franceencouraged his daughter-in- law to assume the royal arms of England. In hisopinion - and that of most of Catholic Europe - Mary of Scotland was thenext heir to the English throne. This belief, of course, would have seriousrepercussions throughout Mary's life. Elizabeth I never forgot this firstoffense and never rested easily while her Catholic relative was alive. But thematter was smoothed over when Elizabeth was persuadd the assumptionwas due more to Guise ambitions than Mary's actual wish. In 1559, Henry IIof France, died at the age of 40. Mary and her husband were crowned Queenand King of France. But in June of 1560, Mary's mother died in Scotland atthe age of 45. And just six months later, her young husband also died of anear infection. Mary was understandably devastated by this chain of tragicevents. Thockmorton, the English ambassador, commented that Francis hadleft 'as dolorous a wife as she had good cause to be. By long watching withhim during his sickness and painful diligence about him' she had becomeexhausted and made herself ill. She wrote a poem, in French, about her grief at his death; this is a translation of one verse:  By day, by night, I think of him/ In wood or mead, or where I be/ My heart keeps watch for one who's gone./ And yet I feel he's aye with me.  What was Mary to do next? She left for Scotland, a land rife with religiousand civil discord. Without waiting for a safe-conduct pass from Elizabeth,whose ships were patrolling her route, Mary set out for Scotland on 14August 1561 and, five days later, reached Leith, the port of Edinburgh. Scotland, 1561-68 Mary knew very well that she was succeeding to a most troubled heritage.But after her recent years of loss and grief, she was determined to make a bright future. Also, in an age of religious persecution which earned her cousin Mary Tudor the nickname 'Bloody Mary,' Mary was determined thatevery one of her Scottish subjectsshould worship God as their conscience bade; there would be noreligious persecution under her rule.In this, she resembled her cousinElizabeth I.The Scots received their new queen  with great joy and celebration. At once, she began to try and help them;within a year of her arrival, one-sixth of all Church benefices was given tothe Protestant ministers to relieve their poverty. She also attempted tostrengthen the power of the Crown against Scotland's notoriously difficult-to-control nobles. Of course, such a strategy would lead to more peace andstability within the realm. As a result, she was popular with the common people but not the nobility; she played croquet, golfed, went for hunts andarchery practice, sung, danced, and, in general, showed an admirable zestfor life. In 1562 the English ambassador reported to Elizabeth, 'When thesoldiers came back from the night's sentry-duty, she said she was sorry shewas not a man to be all night on the fields and to walk the causeway with buff-coat, steel-helmet, buckler, and broadsword.'In 1563, Mary began the traditional 'royal progress' throughout Scotland. In1564, the fourth Earl of Atholl organized a great hunt in honor of the queenand, yet again, Mary charmed all who met her. Yet she also treadeddangerous ground with her policy of non-discrimination and desire to unifythe nation, taking power away from the independent nobles. Though aCatholic, Mary became friends with one of the most learned Protestants of the time, George Buchanan. In the political realm, Mary kept up peacefulrelations with France, Spain, and England, though she never met Elizabethface-to-face. But, in 1566, her patience was tried by the Englishambassador's persistent and obvious spying; she ordered him out of thekingdom and declared him persona non grata. And her peace with Franceand Spain was kept without a treaty, though a treaty would have givenScotland some measure of protection against England in the possibility of conflict. However, Mary was aware that any treaty could compromise her subjects, involving them in yet another war and causing strife. Above all,she wanted peace and prosperity, and she kept Scotland safely distancedfrom political machinations. When the threat to Mary's reign finally came, itwas not from one of these outside powers; indeed, it came from within her own nation.As queen, Mary was more than awarethat she should marry and provide heirsto the throne. In July of 1565, she wed acousin named Henry Stewart, LordDarnley, a weak, vain, and unstableyoung man; like Mary, he was also agrandchild of Henry VIII's sister Margaret. Why Mary wed Darnleyremains a mystery. He was superficiallycharming and, unlike most men, taller than the queen. He was also fond of courtly amusements and thus a nice change from the dour Scottish lordswho surrounded her. But he never seemed to care for Mary and sought far more power than she was willing to give him. When she was six months pregnant in March of 1566, Darnley joined a group of Scottish nobles who broke into her supper-room at Holyrood Palace and dragged her Piedmontese secretary, David Riccio, into another room and stabbed him todeath. They claimed Riccio had undue influence over her foreign policy but,in reality, they probably meant to cause Mary, from watching this horrific
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