The Tudor Society

Elizabeth I and the fall of Mary, Queen of Scots

In this week's Claire Chats I start a two part series on Elizabeth I and the fall of Mary, Queen of Scots. Today, I focus on what led to Mary, Queen of Scots' execution and next week I will examine the controversy surrounding her death warrant.

Notes and Sources

  • Bloody Queens: Elizabeth and Mary, BBC2 programme, February 2015, click here to watch it.
  • Guy, John (2004) My Heart is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots, Harper Perennial.
  • Weir, Alison (2009) Elizabeth the Queen, Vintage.
  • Somerset, Anne (2002) Elizabeth I, W&N.
  • Camden, William (1635) Annales or, The historie of the most renowned and victorious princesse Elizabeth, late Queen of England, printed by Thomas Harper, London, p. 345. Available to read online at Google Books.

There are 2 comments Go To Comment

  1. L

    The Lords didn’t approve of Darnley either, Claire. As far as they were concerned

    On the night of Darnley’s death Mary was at the wedding feast of yet another one of favourites namely Bastian Pagez.

    My personal belief is that she agreed that Darnley was to die, but not to who was to do the deed. IMO Bothwell just seemed to be the right man for the job.
    Plus there was a sort of love hate relationship between Bothwell and Moray from what I can see from my research. So Bothwell’s involvement with the murder of Darnley doesn’t seem too hard to believe.
    Bothwell perhaps sensed that Moray was closing in on him and needed help to keep Moray off his back. Who else would be better to stop Moray from cutting his throat? Mary….I believe that Bothwell saw the advantage to Darnley’s death and took it.
    By the way Darnley’s death was I believe was talked about and conceived in the home of Sir Simon Preston, i.e Craigmillar castle. The castle itself must have been very beautiful in all it’s spendour. In the grounds visible from above there was a water course made in the shape of a letter P.
    I find Mary’s behaviour after the death of Darnley very unusual, as it’s it’s said that after Mass she promptly went out and played Golf. Something which she brought back with her from France in 1561 and was viewed with much amusement by the Scottish people.
    She was certainly more upset over Rizzio’s death, than she was over Darnley’s death. In fact she went on to employ Rizzio’s brother Joseph to be a personal Securtary.

    I also believe that Mary may well have believed herself in love with Bothwell, which Bothwell took full advantage of, I don’t think he raped her I think it was a very mutual sexual encounter. Her marriage to him was a spur of the moment thing, I wouldn’t put it past him to have perhaps got her drunk or drugged her or something and then married her. Bothwell was a nasty piece of work in my opinion.

    Little titbit here: Bothwell’s great grandfather was James 1V proxy at the marriage of Margaret Tudor. And Bothwell’s father for a while lived in England as an exile, basically because he told Marie de Guise to get stuffed, however he was eventually pardoned and returned to Scotland, where he died in 1556.

    Mary denied all knowledge of the casket letters and believed it was possible that Mary Beaton had written them, as her handwritting was very like her own.
    Mary also had a rope of black pearls which were given to her by King Henri of France upon her wedding day to Francois, those pearls somehow found their way to Elizabeth’s treasure chest.

  2. L

    Silly me, I posted this before I finished the bit of why I feel the Lords of the congregation didn’t like Darnley, and have only just noticed. Matthew Lennox ,Darnley’s father was yet another one of the lords who basically turned his back on Scotland and actually recieved a fair sized chunk of money off Henry V111 when he (Matthew) married H8 niece Margaret. Matthew like Patrick Hepburn did eventually return to Scotland and grovelled at the feet of Marie de Guise, she needed all the help she could get at that time and I believe at that time that next to the Huntley family Lennox had a large Catholic army at his disposal. I don’t think the Scottish people had anything against Margaret Douglas, other than she was a Catholic, but her own mother Margaret Tudor had or they perceived that she had betrayed her own son James V by marrying Archibald Douglas who kept the the young James V in an almost vice like grip. I also think they thought that her marriage to him so soon after the death of James 1V was utterly betraying the dead King and the honour the Scottish people had given her, I.e Queen of Scotland. Darnley was really doubly cursed here as 1 He was Catholic (I believe a very poor one) 2 He was English. I also think that despite his ignoble end, his days would be numbered even if he hadn’t of married Mary. What I find so sad about Darnley’s death, is that he wasn’t even given the dignity of a decent Christian burial, in fact as far as I know, no one actually knows where he was buried, he didn’t even get a memorial, it was as if he didn’t exist. Rizzio got more honour, it is believed that Mary arranged to have his body laid in the same vault as her father James V and Madeleine of France, but this might well be just propaganda and was mentioned in 1581 by George Buchannan. James Melville begged George to re write this part of his book, for fear that it would anger James V1 and paint Mary in a very negative light. G Buchannan refused and it was printed.
    I don’t believe Mary was good or bad, she was simple too vain, foolish and ill advised to be an effective queen, she relied to much on her charm and beauty to get her through. She did have flashes of being an effective ruler, and to her credit she did take the Huntley’s down, but in doing so she also destroyed her greatest ally.
    Poor Mary, she just one of those people that I want to cuddle one minute and say “There there, don’t worry it will all come out in the wash” and then in the next minute cheerfully strangle and say ” what the F are you playing at you stupid little fool”.

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Elizabeth I and the fall of Mary, Queen of Scots