Mary Queen of Scots (Mary Stuart) – Bio, Spouse, Children, Family

In Scotland’s royal history, one of the nobilities which can hardly ever be forgotten is Mary Queen of Scots also addressed as Mary I of Scotland or Mary Stuart. Her life was filled with drama, romance, and tragedy as a controversial monarch.
Her father died just six days after her birth thus she acceded the throne as a very young child. Mary would then spend a greater portion of her infant life in France while her home country was ruled by regents. In the course of time and following a series of unfortunate events, Mary later returned to Scotland. However, she didn’t get a respite on her return as she got imprisoned till she was finally beheaded on the order of her first cousin, Queen Elizabeth I of England. This happened after she was found guilty of planning to assassinate Queen Elizabeth. Here is an account of her life events.

Mary Queen of Scots (Mary Stuart) – Bio

Mary Queen of Scots was born to King James V of Scotland and Mary of Guise on the 8th day of December 1542 in Linlithgow Palace, Kingdom of Scotland. While she lived, she was the sole legitimate child of her father who sadly passed away six days after she was born. Thus Mary Stuart became Queen of Scotland as an infant while the kingdom was ruled by regents.

However, there was a tussle over the rulership of the kingdom as the Catholic Cardinal Beaton and the Protestant Earl of Arran contested who was truly next in line to ascend the throne based on their interpretation of the late King’s will. Nevertheless, the Protestant Earl of Arran had his way and ruled as a regent till 1554 when Mary Queen of Scots mother succeeded in removing him.

While Mary was growing up, King Henry VIII of England took advantage of the regency existing at the time to propose a marital union between his son Prince Edward and Mary Stuart in hopes of uniting the Scottish and English kingdom. This was obviously to the detriment of the already existing Scottish alliance with the French. It happened that the Scots didn’t ratify this agreement and this irked King Henry. The Protestant English monarch therefore resorted to coercing the Scots with his military might but this move was in turn resisted by the Scots. They also agreed to a marriage proposal between Dauphin Francis, the son of the Catholic French King, Henry II. Thus Mary was sent to France in 1548 to be the bride of the French prince and secure a Catholic alliance between Scotland and France against Protestant England.

Sadly, Dauphin Francis in 1561 died while still in his teens and thus, Mary Queen of Scots reluctantly returned to Scotland. Having lived a greater portion of her life in France and having become a staunch Catholic at that, Mary Stuart was regarded with suspicion by the Queen of England and indeed many other English nobilities.

In the course of time, Mary began searching for a husband among Europe’s nobilities in Austria and Spain but her quest fell through. Over time, she supposedly fell in love and married her English-born half-cousin Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley who however turned out to be a weakling in matters of politics. But to stem the widening Protestant and Catholic split, he was her best option, thus, Mary stayed put in the marriage. She ruled entirely on her own as her husband who was also a drunkard had no real authority.

While their marriage lasted, Lord Darnley wanted to have a major stake in the Kingdom and thus he demanded the Crown Matrimonial which could make him a co-sovereign of Scotland but his wife wasn’t having any of it. He also became jealous of his wife’s friendship with her Catholic private secretary, David Rizzio who at the time was rumored to be the biological father of her child – James. Lord Darnley out of envy and suspicion later conspired with other Protestants to have Rizzio murdered. They perfected their plans and executed it right in the presence of Mary.

After some time and as several political shenanigans played out, Lord Darnley was no longer safe himself. He was later found strangled and dead in the garden of a house he lodged at in Edinburgh. In the night of his death in February 1567, the house was blown up with explosives but his body was found in the garden and on examination, his death was ruled not to have been caused by the explosion but as a result of strangling.

Over time, Mary Queen of Scots began making moves to marry James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell who was believed to have murdered Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley but by April 1567, he was cleared of the charge and thus he married Mary. However, there was an uprising against the couple which led to Mary’s imprisonment in Loch Leven Castle. In addition, she was also compelled to abdicate the throne to her one-year-old son which she did. Following an unsuccessful attempt to reclaim the throne and fearing for her safety, she fled to seek protection from the Protestant Queen Elizabeth I of England, her first cousin.

Well, the peace Mary Stuart sought for with Queen Elizabeth eluded her being that she once contested for the English throne and did have backing from some English Catholics who considered her claim to the throne as legitimate. As a result of this, Queen Elizabeth considered Mary Queen of Scots as a threat to her throne and resorted to confining her to various castles and manor houses in England’s interior. She was confined for 181/2 years after which she was found guilty of plotting to assassinate the Queen in 1568. The punishment handed down to her was death by beheading. Therefore, on the 8th of February 1587, Mary Stuart was beheaded at Fotheringhay Castle.

The beheading of Mary Queen of Scots
The beheading of Mary Queen of Scots (image source)

In the contemporary time, a 2018 historical drama film titled Mary Queen of Scots tells the story of Mary Stuart. The film which was directed by Josie Rourke has as its cast Saoirse Ronan as Mary, Queen of Scots, Margot Robbie as Queen Elizabeth I, Jack Lowden as Lord Darnley, Martin Compston as Earl of Bothwell, Andrew Rothney as James VI and several others.

See Also: Who Was Abraham Ortelius? Here Are Facts You Must Know About Him

Family: Spouse, Children

While she lived, Mary Queen of Scots was married to Francis II of France beginning in 1558 but he died in 1560 while still a teen.

Following her return to Scotland, she married Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley in other to keep the peace between Catholics and Protestants but this marriage led to several sad events including the death of Lord Darnley. The couple got married in 1565 while Lord Darnley died in 1567.

Mary’s next husband became James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell who he got married to in the year 1567 but he later died in 1578.

In her second marriage, Mary Queen of Scots had a child supposedly with Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley on 19th June 1566. He was James VI and I (James Charles Stuart) who grew to become the King of Scotland as James VI from 24 July 1567, King of England and Ireland as James I following the union of the Scottish and English crowns on 24 March 1603 till his death in the year 1625. He was buried on 7th May 1625 at the Westminster Abbey.


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