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Mary Queen of Scots

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Mary Queen of Scots is a unique figure in the history of Scotland . She was Queen of Scotland , she reigned briefly as Queen of France and it was her strong claim to the English throne which ultimately led to her death. Her family , the Stewarts , came to power in Scotland when Marjorie Bruce , daughter of King Robert the Bruce , married Walter Stewart .
Mary Queen of Scots was born in Linlithgow Palace .Her mother Mary of Guise was witty and a cunning political operator who survived in treacherous times to rule the war-torn Scottish kingdom. read her story The story of
the house of Stewart

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Mary was born on 8 December , 1542 in Linlithgow Palace . She was a weak child and not expected to live . To make matters worse , her father King James V lay dying in Falkland Palace . He had collapsed after the defeat of his army at Solway Moss. Six days later he died . However Mary grew strong and healthy . She was crowned queen at Stirling Castle before her first birthday .

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Mary's ascent to the throne raised the issue of to whom she should be betrothed . Her great uncle , King Henry VIII of England , suggested a union with his son Edward. Most of the Scottish lords favoured a marriage to the newborn French prince to continue the 'auld alliance' with France . Henry was outraged and sent an army to invade Scotland and enforce his will. Mary , who by this time was five years old , was sent by her mother , Mary of Guise , to France for her own safety .

Mary's childhood in France was idyllic and surrounded by Renaissance splendour . She was treated as the future queen of France and Scotland and stayed in chateaux and palaces such as Fontainebleau . Mary was beautiful , bright and lively. Henry II , the king of France , said
' The little Queen of Scots is the most perfect child that I have ever seen '. Mary quickly learned to speak French as well as Italian , Spanish and Latin . Her tutors taught her to sew tapestries , write poetry and play musical instruments . The only thing missing in her life was her mother , Mary of Guise who , as a regent of Scotland, had to stay there . In 1550 Mary of Guise visited her daughter and spent the next year with her in France .

Mary grew up with Prince Francis , son of the French king . In April 1558 Mary and Francis were married in an extravagant ceremony in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris . The poet Chatelard wrote ' the eyes of this Queen suffice to light up the whole sea with their lovely fire '. Seven months later the English queen Mary Tudor died , leading Henry II and some English Catholics to push the claims of Mary to the throne . From then on Mary and Francis carried the royal arms of England as well as France and Scotland .

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 The following year Henry II died and Mary became Queen of France . However less than a year later her husband developed an ear infection and died . Mary decided to return to Scotland .

A group of Protestant nobles , the Lords of the Congregation , took over Mary of Guise's government . However , Mary's half brother , the Earl of Moray , had prepared the way for her return and it was agreed that she would accept the changes made to the Parliament and Scottish church in return for being allowed to practise her own religion . Before long the Scottish people took Mary to their hearts .

Mary spent most of her time at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh and enjoyed visits to Falkland Palace and her castles at Stirling and Linlithgow . Mary was the Queen of Scotland and official heir to the English throne and she started to receive suitors from all over Europe . She decided to marry her cousin , Henry Stuart , Lord Darnley . They were married at Holyrood on 29 July 1565 . In 1566 Mary became pregnant . She started to spend a lot of time with her secretary , David Rizzio , and Darnley became jealous of their relationship. In March 1566 Darnley and his followers murdered Rizzio in the Queen's apartments . This effectively ended the marriage . In June Mary gave birth to a son James VI at Edinburgh Castle .

 Mary looked to the Earl of Moray and the Earl of Bothwell for support and she considered a divorce . In February 1567 the house at Kirk o'Field in Edinburgh where Darnley was staying was destroyed by an explosion . It became clear that Bothwell was responsible for this but the trial was disrupted by his supporters and he was set free .

Bothwell now made it clear he wanted the throne of Scotland . He tried and failed to persuade Mary that they should join forces . In April 1567 Mary visited her son in Stirling . On her way back Bothwell met her and he made her go with him to Dunbar Castle. There he attacked her and forced her into marriage . The people were scandalised at the marriage and turned against Mary .

There are nine pictures of Linlithgow Palace on Photogold

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 On 15 June 1567 a group of nobles met Bothwell and his army at Carberry Hill. Bothwell was defeated and Mary was taken to Lochleven Castle. She was forced to abdicate in favour of James and name Moray as regent .Bothwell fled to Denmark. Mary was locked up in Lochleven for ten months. She managed to escape and met her supporters at Langside . Once again her army was defeated and she fled south .

If Mary had travelled to France she would have been safe and well looked after . Instead she naively believed Queen Elizabeth of England would protect her . Elizabeth however did not trust the woman who had once claimed her throne . Once again Mary was imprisoned , this time in Carlisle Castle. Some Scottish lords accused Mary of involvement in Darnley's death and Elizabeth realised that Mary would be executed if she returned to Scotland. Mary had three powerful allies - the kings of France and Spain and the Pope. Elizabeth decided to imprison Mary because she feared Mary would make a claim on her throne if she was free. For 18 years Mary was kept in prison. Elizabeth refused all of Mary's requests to see her . Eventually Mary had to look for support from another source to regain her freedom.

In May 1570 the Pope excommunicated Elizabeth and issued a papal bull deposing her , increasing the pressure on Elizabeth . Many Catholics believed that Mary should become queen of England .

The Babington Plot was uncovered in 1586 by Walsingham and Mary's involvement was exposed . Elizabeth now had no choice but to try Mary for treason and she was found guilty . Mary was executed at Fotheringhay Castle on 8 February 1587 . In 1603 her son James achieved what many believed was Mary's destiny and entitlement - he became ruler of England and Scotland .

 There are nine pictures of Linlithgow Palace on Photogold



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Mary Queen of Scots