On this day in Tudor history, Sunday 29th July 1565, twenty-three-year-old Mary, Queen of Scots, queen regnant of Scotland, married her second husband, nineteen-year-old Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, at Holyrood Palace.
In today's video, I give details of the wedding and how the marriage turned out. It wasn't happy for long!
Also on this day in history:
- 1504 – Death of Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby, husband of Lady Margaret Beaufort, and stepfather of Henry VII, at Lathom. He was buried at Burscough Priory. It is thought that it was Stanley who placed Richard III's crown on his stepson's head at Bosworth.
- 1509 – Birth of George Neville, son of Richard Neville, 2nd Baron Latimer, and his wife, Anne Stafford. Neville was Archdeacon of Carlisle and Rector of Salkeld, Spofforth and Morland.
- 1573 – Death of John Caius, scholar, Physician to Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I, and founder of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, at his home near St Bartholomew's Hospital.
- 1588 - The Battle of Gravelines - The Spanish Armada was defeated by the English naval force.
- 1589 – Hanging of Agnes Waterhouse, one of the Essex Witches, at Chelmsford in Essex.
- 1591 – Death of Edmund Coppinger, puritan and alleged prophet, after a 7-8 day hunger strike. Coppinger was an associate of William Hacket, who had been executed the day before.
What a pity Mary didn’t realise he was a homosexual and a cad and drunken twit before she married him. His behaviour was known to his family, but he was told to behave himself and made an effort to do so. He might even have been the lover of David Rizzio whom he murdered, as suggested by pamphlets from the time, although we don’t know for certain and his demands just got worse and worse.
From a dynastic point of view the marriage made sense because of the fact Margaret Douglas, as the eldest niece of Henry Viii had a recognised claim to the English throne. Henry, Lord Darnley, her son was of course also an heir and as the cousin of Mary, shared a claim to the crown. This marriage brought her closer to the crown she already saw as hers by right. It was, however, a disaster and he became brutal, violent, demanding and above his station, taking part in the murder of Rizzio and tried to get the Lords of the Congregation to crown him. He gained a reputation for every kind of immoral behaviour and was eventually murdered while sick with either smallpox or syphilis or both. Mary had nothing to do with his murder, she herself was ill, she did seek a hearing, but she also married the man who was implicated in his murder, James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell. This incident caused outrage at the time, no more so than from John Knox, the firebrand who preached against her as a whore of Babylon and the people rose up in outrageous anger. Even Elizabeth was concerned and she declared Mary should prove her innocence. Mary was eventually defeated in war and taken prisoner, her third husband forced to flee to Denmark, where he ended his life as an imprisoned lunatic, poor Mary was forced at the edge of a dagger to abdicate and again put in prison on Loch Leven. It’s a remote and beautiful setting, but boy the castle looks grim and lonely. A boy helped her escape and she was allowed to flee to England. As a Queen, although in confinement, Mary had far better treatment and living conditions than she did in Scotland during those dark days. For the first ten years in England she had relative freedoms, she could ride, hold court, had visitors and was held in very good luxurious rooms. However, as more people supported her and tried to get her to agree to alleged plots to kill Elizabeth, Mary was held in more restrictive conditions. Her rooms were smaller, she had her bags and sfuff searched, her letters were read and she wasn’t allowed much exercise. She became more desperate. Elizabeth also had some kind of hearing on the death of Darnley, having forged letters called the Casket Letters but the verdict was undecided. Many historians are divided on the whole scenario of the murder of Darnley but a second trial cleared Mary and Elizabeth just used any excuse to keep her locked up. Maybe she would have avoided some of the alleged plots had she not imprisoned a Catholic rival for her own throne within her kingdom. Give her one ship, a poorly maintained one and send her to France. She would have been a refugee there and unlikely to have the support Elizabeth feared. The execution of Mary Queen of Scots on 8th February 1587 made her a Catholic martyr. It also gave Philip Ii of Spain the final excuse he needed to invade England and replace the Excommunicated Elizabeth. Her pirates were bad enough, now the execution of an anointed Catholic Queen; the fanatical Philip didn’t need much prompting after that.
I find her story so sad. I wonder if she had any idea what she was letting herself in for with Darnley. He was such an arrogant man. It’s a shame that François didn’t survive, I’m sure that their marriage would have been successful and that she would have been a good queen consort for France. If only!
I agree, Mary made mistakes, but was a tragic heroine. Francis II died in such a painful way, but the couple appear to have been devoted to each other for the couple of years they were married. I agree, they would have been very good for France and imagine their children uniting the crowns of Scotland, France and England? Now that is one mind blowing what if.
I wish Fortheringhay was more than a ruin because of its connection to Richard iii and sadly to Mary Queen of Scots. The Church is fantastic and the restored tombs of Richard, Duke of York and Cecily Neville, Duchess of York by Elizabeth I are really something, although I suspect the Victorians have had some hand in them as well. It’s easy to imagine how something would have looked, but it’s a sad spot to stand on. Maybe it being a ruin after such a dreadful event as the execution of a Queen taking place there is appropriate. Mary is an evocative heroine, her life brings a lot of sympathy but I think she was a much stronger woman than she is often shown. After everything she endured I don’t really blame her for wanting to consent to the death of Elizabeth, either. If I was a caged animal, I might even feel the same way to be honest. Mary is my personal heroine.