The Tudor Society

13 May – A battle between Mary, Queen of Scots, and her half-brother

On this day in Tudor history, 13th May 1568, the forces of Mary, Queen of Scots, met those of her brother, the Regent Moray, at the Battle of Langside in Scotland.

Mary, Queen of Scots was defeated soundly, but what happened and why was she fighting against the regent acting on behalf of her son, King James VI? What had led to this moment.

I explain all in today's talk.

Also on this day in Tudor history, 13th May 1515, Henry VIII's beloved sister, Mary Tudor, former Queen of France, married his best friend, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, at Greenwich Palace. Find out more in last year's video:

And on 13th May 1536, Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, got rather cross and exasperated with Thomas Cromwell and refused to be bullied in any way. Poor Cromwell, Percy wouldn't play ball! Find out what Thomas Cromwell was trying to get Percy to do any why, and what it had to do with the fall of Anne Boleyn in the 13th May 1536 video:

Also on this day in history:

  • 1619 – Funeral of Anne (Anne of Denmark), consort of James VI and I. She was buried in Henry VII's Chapel in Westminster Abbey.


On this day in Tudor history, 13th May 1568, the forces of Mary, Queen of Scots, were defeated by those of her half-brother, the Regent Moray, at the Battle of Langside.

Why was Mary fighting against the regent who represented her son, King James VI? What had led to this moment? Well, let me explain.

Mary, Queen of Scots had come to the throne of Scotland when she was just six days old, following the death of her father, King James V. She was sent, however, to France, in 1548 to prepare to marry the Dauphin, which she did in 1558. Her husband became King Francis II in 1559 but sadly died in 1560 and Mary’s mother-in-law, Catherine de’ Medici, became regent for Mary’s ten-year-old brother-in-law, King Charles IX. Mary was no longer queen consort of France, so she returned to Scotland in 1561, a country divided by Protestantism and Catholicism.

In 1565, Mary married Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, but the marriage quickly soured and Darnley was involved in the murder of her secretary, David Rizzio, in front of a pregnant Mary. Mary gave birth to a son by Darnley in June 1566, a little boy who would grow up to be King James VI/King James I. Darnley himself was murdered in February 1567 and Mary’s future third husband, James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, was implicated in his murder.

In April 1567, Mary was abducted by Bothwell, who took her to Dunbar Castle and ravished her. He married her on 15th May, but it was a marriage that was unpopular with Catholics and Protestants alike. On 15th June 1567, a number of Scottish Lords and their troops met those of Mary and Bothwell at Carberry Hill, and although it’s called the Battle of Carberry Hill, it was more of a standoff. Bothwell fled and Mary surrendered. She was taken prisoner and in July 1567, during her imprisonment, she miscarried twins fathered by Bothwell. She was forced to abdicate in favour of her son, James, and her half-brother, James Stewart, Earl of Moray, acted as regent.

On 2nd May 1568, Mary escaped from imprisonment at Lochleven Castle and was able to rally support for her cause. Within a week, she had gathered six thousand men. On this day in history, 13th May 1568, Mary’s force clashed with her half-brother’s men at Langside, just outside of Glasgow. Mary’s troops outnumbered Moray’s but Mary’s commander, Archibald Campbell, 5th Earl of Argyll, was in bad health and, according to accounts of the battle, collapsed. Without his leadership, chaos ensued and Mary’s troops were soundly defeated after just 45 minutes. Mary’s troops suffered the loss of over 100 men, whereas their enemy lost just one. Mary, who had watched events unfold from the safety of higher ground, fled the battlefield, while over three hundred of her supporters were taken prisoner. She headed to Dumfries and then on to Dundrennan, and eventually England. On 16th May 1568, Mary landed near Workington in Cumberland, England, and was taken into protective custody at Carlisle Castle. Mary had assumed that England’s queen, Elizabeth I, would help her to regain the Scottish throne, but it wasn’t the case. Mary was imprisoned from 16th May 1558 until her execution in February 1587.

Leave a Reply

13 May – A battle between Mary, Queen of Scots, and her half-brother