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The Tudor Society

Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley

Mary and Lord Darnley c.1565, from Hardwick Hall

Mary and Lord Darnley c.1565, from Hardwick Hall

On 29th July 1565, Mary, Queen of Scots, married Henry Stuart (Stewart), Lord Darnley, at Holyrood Palace (the Palace of Holyroodhouse), Edinburgh.

You can find out all about Mary, Queen of Scots, at our Mary, Queen of Scots Bio page, but who was the bridegroom? Here are a few facts about him:

Birth: 7th December 1545 at Temple Newsam, Leeds.

Parents: Matthew Stuart, 4th Earl of Lennox, and Margaret Douglas, daughter of Margaret Tudor, Henry VIII's sister, and her second husband, Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus.

Relationship to Mary, Queen of Scots: Darnley and Mary were related not only by their marriage but also by the fact that they shared a grandmother, Margaret Tudor, and were also both descended from Joan Beaufort, Queen of Scotland.

Titles: Master of Lennox (1545 - 1565), Lord Darnley (1545 - 1565), Earl of Ross and Lord of Ardmanach (May - July 1565), 1st Duke of Albany (July 1565). On 30th July 1565, Darnley was proclaimed King of Scots at the Cross of Edinburgh. In February 1565 he was given the Order of Saint Michael by the King of France.

Marriages: He was married just the once, to Mary, Queen of Scots, on the 29th July 1565.

Character: Darnley was said to have had a drinking problem which exacerbated his mean and violent streak. He was jealous of Mary's friendship with her secretary, David Rizzio, even believing that Rizzio was the father of the child she was carrying. His increasingly erratic behaviour, along with his desire to be awarded the Crown Matrimonial (the right to co-reign with Mary) led to him becoming unpopular.

Scandal: Darnley and a group of his supporters murdered Rizzio, by stabbing him to death (allegedly 56 times!) on 9th March 1566, but were later pardoned of the crime. Click here to read more about Rizzio's murder.

Death: 10th February 1567 at Kirk O'Field, Edinburgh. Darnley was staying at Kirk O'Field while he recovered from smallpox (or possibly syphilis). On the night of the 10th February, the house was reduced to rubble and Darnley killed by an explosion caused by someone setting light to gunpowder in the cellars. His body was found in a neighbouring garden, beside that of his groom, with a dagger lying on the ground between them. Historian Magnus Magnusson believed that Darnley had been strangled to death before the explosion because the body showed signs of strangulation. The Earl of Bothwell, his supporters and Mary herself were all suspected of being involved in Darnley's death. Click here to read more about Darnley's murder.

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Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley