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The Tudor Society

17 February – Love at first sight for Mary, Queen of Scots?

Well, ok, perhaps love at second or third sight!

On this day in Tudor history, Saturday 17th February 1565, Mary, Queen of Scots, met and fell in love with Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, at Wemyss Castle in Scotland. Just over 7 months later, the couple got married.

Find out more about the background of this meeting between Mary, Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley, Mary's thoughts on Darnley, and what happened next, in today's talk.

Here is my video on Darnley's murder:

Also on this day in Tudor history, 17th February 1547, Edward Seymour was made Duke of Somerset. Find out more in last year's video:

Also on this day in history:

  • 1557 – Death of Henry Radcliffe, 2nd Earl of Essex, at Cannon Row, Westminster. He was buried firstly at St Laurence Pountney and then moved to Boreham in Essex.
  • 1584 – Burial of John Watson, Bishop of Winchester, at Winchester. He was buried in the cathedral.
  • 1590 – Death of Edward Leeds (Lydes), Rector of Croxton and Master of Clare College, Cambridge from 1560 to 1571. He died at his manor at Croxton in Cambridgeshire, and was buried at Croxton Church. Leeds had served Archbishop Matthew Parker as one of his chaplains.

Transcript:

On this day in Tudor history, Saturday 17th February 1565, Mary, Queen of Scots, met and fell in love with Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, at Wemyss Castle in Scotland.

Darnley, son of Lady Margaret Douglas and Matthew Stewart, 4th Earl of Lennox, had met Mary before on at least one occasion, having been sent to France in 1559 by his parents to congratulate Mary and her husband, Francis II of France, on their accession. It has also been suggested that he was sent again in late 1560, early 1561, to offer his condolences to Mary on the death of Francis. This was all part of his father’s effort to recover the Scottish estates he’d lost in 1545 when he’d been declared a traitor for supporting the military action of Henry VIII against Scotland in the War of the Rough Wooing. Mary did restore Lennox’s lands following the intercession of Elizabeth I in 1564.

Darnley left London for Scotland on 3rd February, after Elizabeth I granted him permission to join his father there. He arrived in Edinburgh by 12th February and on this day in history, 17th February 1565, he presented himself to the Scottish queen at Wemyss Castle in Fife. Sir James Melville, the Scottish ambassador, recorded that Mary “took well with him, and said that he was the lustiest and best proportioned long man that she had seen; for he was of high stature, long and small (meaning slender), even and erect.” He was clearly a good-looking man, and appears to have been charming and accomplished too. Apart from a temporary separation for Darnley to visit his father, the couple were constant companions. Just over 7 months later, on 29th July 1565, Mary married Darnley at Holyrood Palace.

Marital bliss didn’t last at all long, with the couple being estranged by Christmas 1565. Things went from bad to worse when Mary’s private secretary, David Rizzio, was stabbed to death in front of her by a gang of assassins led by her husband in March 1566. Mary gave birth to Darnley’s son, James, the future James VI and James I, on 19th June 1566, but there was no reconciliation. Darnley was murdered on 10th February 1567.

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17 February – Love at first sight for Mary, Queen of Scots?