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The coronation of Mary of Guise

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Marie de Guise

Thank you to Heather R. Darsie for this article on Mary of Guise (Marie de Guise), who was crowned Queen Consort of Scotland on this day in 1540.

Mary of Guise was born on 22 November 1515 to Claude of Lorraine, the Duke of Guise, and Antoinette of Bourbon. She was the eldest of twelve children. Mary was first made a wife in 1534 at the age of eighteen when she married the Duke of Longueville. She had two sons with her first husband, the second of whom died young. The Duke of Longueville passed away in 1537 when Mary was only twenty-one. She was then courted by both Henry VIII of England and James V of Scotland.

James V of Scotland’s first French bride, Madeleine of Valois, died in the summer of 1537. James had travelled to France to meet his first bride Madeleine but also had the opportunity to meet Mary of Guise. It was reported that Mary of Guise was second in his affections. Mary avoided the marriage to James’s maternal uncle Henry VIII and went on in May 1538 to marry James by proxy in Paris, and later married him in person after her arrival in Scotland. Mary brought with her a dowry given by Francis I of France, father of James V’s first bride, and it was large enough to be of the same value as a French princess. Of Mary of Guise, Margaret Tudor wrote to her brother Henry VIII, "I trust she will prove a wise Princess. I have been much in her company, and she bears herself very honourably to me, with very good entertaining." Mary would leave behind her three-year-old son, who was now the Duke of Longueville.

Mary’s coronation happened on 22 February 1540. She was pregnant with her first son by James V, who was born in May of 1540. A new crown was made for the occasion, which was set to take place in Holyrood Abbey. Ladies were summoned from all over Scotland to attend. The abbey was hung with tapestries, and items moved for the occasion from the Holyrood Palace chapel to Holyrood Abbey. A thirty-gun salute marked the occasion, and fireworks were lit just up the hill at Edinburgh Castle. Mary used a gilded sceptre for the coronation, too.

James V and Marie de Guise

Mary had a second son in 1541 with James V, and tragically, both of her sons died on the 21 April 1541, the elder boy being not quite a year and the younger being only a few days old. Mary of Guise was Queen Consort of Scotland for less than five years before her husband died after the Battle of Solway Moss. This famously left the couple’s six-day-old daughter, Mary, as Queen of Scots. Mary of Guise had the Queen of Scots smuggled out of Scotland and to France when the Queen of Scots was about five years old. Mary of Guise served as regent for her daughter from 1554 until 1560, while the Queen of Scots was being raised at the French court. Mary of Guise passed away in 1560, and her body was taken to France for burial some months later.

Heather R. Darsie lives in the United States with her family and three parrots. She works in the legal field, with a focus on children. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in German Languages and Literature, then a Juris Doctorate in American jurisprudence, and studied abroad in Costa Rica and France. Heather has always loved history. She first became acquainted with Elizabeth I when she was in middle school and chose to write a book report about her. Since then, she has always held an interest in the Renaissance and its numerous enigmatic citizens, with particular focus on the history of England and Italy. She is currently working on a book on the heraldry of Tudor women and is also researching Anne of Cleves.

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The coronation of Mary of Guise