The Tudor Society

Mary, Queen of Scots – In my end is my beginning

On this day in history, 8th February 1587, Mary, Queen of Scots, daughter of James V, King of Scotland, and Marie de Guise, was executed in the great hall of Fotheringhay Castle after having been found guilty of treason.

We have lots of resources (talks, articles etc.) here on the Tudor Society website on Mary, Queen of Scots, and here are links to them:

There are also lots of articles on various aspects of her life and you can browse those at

Only 1 comment so far Go To Comment

  1. R

    When Mary said those words she spoke true because with her execution she entered into myth, legend and romantic history. Mary became immortal and has gained sympathy and become a tragic heroine in fiction, drama, poetry, memory and even in the eyes of many historians. It is a ridiculous trait of history that people who failed are often held in greater esteem and looked upon as people to write drama about, than many who succeed. The brutal death of a Queen on the orders of her cousin almost wipes out the drama and failure of her short reign as well as the plots connected to her name. Elizabeth I has not been vilified for much, but this one act hangs over her reputation like a hovering blade. I think Elizabeth did agonize over whether or not to execute Mary, but in the end her actions were those of a coward, because she could not own up to her own decisions.

    Of course Elizabeth gave the orders, nobody would have dared send a crowned Queen to their deaths without her orders. I don’t accept the pile of paper myth, either. For me Elizabeth should have had the gumption to openly sign and openly order Mary’s death if she wanted to execute her. Her entire council had to virtually draw straws as to who was going to take the blame and take her the news. Every member knew Elizabeth had given the orders. Now she wanted to pretend to mourn and feel guilty and angry for her own decision and that she knew nothing until it was too late. Really? Are we meant to believe that today? Like her father, Elizabeth was in charge, not her Council, not Walsingham and not William Cecil, so yes, only she could give the orders and no, they couldn’t act otherwise, no matter what they wanted. Elizabeth was not yet senile and knew exactly what she was doing. For me she could pretend and protest all she wanted but she was responsible for Mary’s death, nobody else.

    Mary’s execution was as dramatic as her life had been, it was pure theatre and she was the star actress. She was led out in dramatic fashion with guards, the Council, her own servants knelt, her Ladies wept and the very rude Dean prayed over her and at her, not allowing her the quiet to pray herself. Mary is subjected to constant rude interruptions and has to ignore him. She takes her leave and gives her Ladies her rosary and prayer book and takes of her black gown to reveal the scarlet dress of a Catholic martyr beneath. She knelt and continued to pray as three strokes of the axe were needed to remove her head. The executioner lifted her head up and the red whig she wore came away in his hand, leaving her head to roll free. Her little dog was found hiding under her skirts and later died. Elizabeth would mourn out of guilt and sorrow for several months. By executing a fellow monarch, Elizabeth had shown that King’s can be killed and opened the door for others to go the same way.

    Rest in peace, Mary, Queen of Scots. Amen

Leave a Reply

Mary, Queen of Scots – In my end is my beginning