The Tudor Society

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  • 19 August 1561 – Mary, Queen of Scots lands at Leith

    On this day in history, on 19th August 1561 at six o’clock in the morning, Mary, Queen of Scots landed at Leith harbour, in Scotland, the country of her birth. The reason for her return to her homeland was the death of her husband, Francis II, King of France. He had died in December 1560 and was succeeded by his brother, Charles IX, with his mother, Catherine de’ Medici acting as regent for the ten-year-old boy. Mary knew that there was no sense in her staying in France. There was no place for her there, so she handed her jewels in to Catherine and set about planning her return to Scotland and making a fresh start.

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  • 29 July 1565 – The marriage of Mary, Queen of Scots, and Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley

    On Sunday 29th July 1565, twenty-three-year-old Mary, Queen of Scots, married nineteen-year-old Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley.

    Mary, Queen of Scots, was queen regnant of Scotland and was the daughter of James V of Scotland (son of James IV and Margaret Tudor) and Mary of Guise. She had become queen when she was just six days old. The bridegroom was the son of Matthew Stuart, the 4th Earl of Lennox and Margaret Douglas (daughter of Margaret Tudor, Henry VIII’s sister). Mary and Darnley were related; they were half-cousins.

    The banns for the marriage had been read in St Giles’s Cathedral, High Kirk of Edinburgh, on Sunday 22nd July and in that afternoon Darnley was made Duke of Albany. On Saturday 28th July, heralds proclaimed the forthcoming marriage of Mary and Darnley at the Market Cross in Edinburgh and proclaimed that Darnley would be made king following the wedding.

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  • 24 July 1567 – Mary, Queen of Scots, is forced to abdicate

    n this day in history 24th July 1567, twenty-four-year-old Mary, Queen of Scots, was forced to abdicate and the Scottish crown passed to her one-year-old son, James, who became King James VI of Scotland. James Stewart, Earl of Moray and Mary’s illegitimate half-brother, would act as regent for the boy king.

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  • 19 April 1558 – Betrothal of Mary, Queen of Scots, and Francis, the Dauphin

    On this day in history, Tuesday 19th April 1558, fifteen-year-old Mary, Queen of Scots, became betrothed to fourteen-year-old Francis, the dauphin of France, the future Francis II.

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  • Mary, Queen of Scots, from the primary sources

    In the live chat last Saturday I mentioned how I’d been lucky enough to hear historian John Guy, author of My Heart is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots, talk about Mary, Queen of Scots, a few years ago on the Anne Boleyn Files Executed Queens Tour and that I’d try and dig my notes out to share with you.

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  • Transcript of Mary, Queen of Scots live chat

    Here is the transcript of the lively discussion we had over the weekend about Mary, Queen of Scots. Thank you for all those who came as this turned out to be a very memorable discussion on such a fascinating character.

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  • Mary, Queen of Scots – live chat on Saturday 4 March

    We’re holding one of our informal live chats on the chatroom this Saturday. Regular contributor Heather R. Darsie will be moderating and you can ask her questions or simply pose questions for debate and discussion. Heather thought it would be nice to talk about Mary’s life after her return from France, but we can stray to her earlier life if you like. We can also discuss books, theories about her… whatever you like, it’s an informal chat.

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  • The tomb of Mary, Queen of Scots

    Thank you to regular contributor Heather R. Darsie for writing this article on the tomb of Mary, Queen of Scots.

    Mary, Queen of Scots, lost her life on 8 February 1587. She was not buried for almost a full five months, finally being laid to rest on 5 August 1587 in Peterborough Cathedral. Peterborough Cathedral already had one queen buried there, namely Katharine of Aragon, buried in 1536.

    Peterborough Cathedral has an impressive history beginning in 655 BCE when the site was home to a monastery. During the years surrounding 1116, the bulk of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle was written at Peterborough. Skipping ahead to 1530, Cardinal Wolsey celebrated Easter at Peterborough after he was sent into exile by Henry VIII. In 1536, Katharine of Aragon was buried at Peterborough. Mary, Queen of Scots, was buried at the cathedral, as mentioned above, as it was close to Fotheringhay Castle, where Queen Mary was beheaded.

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  • 3 February 1587 – Elizabeth I’s Privy Council makes a decision about Mary, Queen of Scots

    William Cecil, Baron Burghley, Portrait attributed to Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger

    On this day in 1587, the Privy Council met in William Cecil, Lord Burghley’s chambers at Greenwich and agreed to send Mary, Queen of Scots’ signed death warrant to Fotheringhay. Burghley appointed the Earls of Shrewsbury and Kent to direct the execution, and the council agreed to keep Elizabeth in the dark until the deed was done.

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  • 8 December 1542 – Birth of Mary, Queen of Scots

    A miniature of Mary, Queen of Scots in captivity by Nicholas Hilliard

    On this day in history, 8th December 1542, Elizabeth I’s nemesis, Mary, Queen of Scots, was born at Linlithgow Palace in Scotland.

    Mary, Queen of Scots was the daughter of James V of Scotland and his second wife, Mary of Guise, and the granddaughter of Margaret Tudor (Henry VIII’s sister) and James IV of Scotland. On the 14th December, when she was just six days old, Mary became Queen of Scotland after her father died of a fever. She was crowned Queen on 9th September 1543 at Stirling Castle. As Mary was a baby, James Hamilton, 2nd Earl of Arran, acted as regent until 1554 when he surrendered the regency to Mary’s mother, Mary of Guise, who acted as regent until her death in 1560.

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  • The trial of Mary, Queen of Scots

    On this day in history, 14th October 1586, the trial of Mary, Queen of Scots began at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire.

    Mary, Queen of Scots had, at first, refused to appear before Elizabeth I’s commission, but had been told by William Cecil that the trial would take place with or without her. She appeared in front of the commission at 9am, dressed in a black velvet gown and a white cambric cap and veil. Mary then protested against the commission, arguing that the court was not legitimate, and arguing against the fact that she was not allowed legal defence and was not able to call any witnesses.

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  • 24 July 1567 – Mary, Queen of Scots, is forced to abdicate

    On 24th July 1567, Mary, Queen of Scots, who was imprisoned at Lochleven Castle and who had recently suffered a miscarriage, was forced to abdicate. The Scottish crown was passed on to her one-year-old son, James, who became James VI of Scotland, with his uncle, Mary’s illegitimate half-brother, James Stewart, Earl of Moray, acting as regent.

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  • 17 June 1567 – Mary, Queen of Scots, is imprisoned at Lochleven Castle

    On this day in history, 17th June 1567, Mary, Queen of Scots, was imprisoned at Loch Leven Castle following her surrender to the Protestant nobles at the Battle of Carberry Hill on 15th June.

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  • Elizabeth I and the fall of Mary, Queen of Scots Part 2

    In today’s Claire chats I continue my examination of the fall of Mary, Queen of Scots, by looking at the controversy surrounding the death warrant and examining the Bond of Association and the Act for the Queen’s Safety.

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  • 8 February 1587 – Mary, Queen of Scots is executed at Fotheringhay

    On this day in history, Wednesday 8th February, Mary, Queen of Scots was executed at Fotheringhay Castle, following the arrival of her death warrant at the castle the day before.

    Mary had been tried in October 1586 for her involvement in the Babington Plot, a plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I, and had been found guilty. Elizabeth I put off signing her death warrant, struggling with the idea of killing an anointed monarch, but finally signed the warrant on 1st February 1587, although Elizabeth claimed later that she ordered her secretary, William Davison, not to do anything with it for the time being. As I mentioned in my article on the death warrant, Elizabeth’s Privy Council met and agreed to send the warrant to Fotheringhay without the Queen’s knowledge. It is impossible to know exactly what happened. Did Davison misunderstand the Queen’s instructions and intentions? Probably not. Some historians believe that William Cecil, Lord Burghley, chose Davison to be a scapegoat because he realised that Elizabeth needed someone to take the responsibility for Mary’s death away from her, but others believe that it was Elizabeth who chose Davison as the scapegoat.

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  • 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.

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  • 1 February 1587 – Elizabeth I signs the death warrant of Mary, Queen of Scots

    On this day in history, 1st February 1587, Elizabeth I called her secretary, William Davison, to her and asked him to bring her Mary, Queen of Scots’s death warrant. She then signed it.

    Mary, Queen of Scots, had been tried in October 1586 for her involvement in the Babington Plot, a plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I. As the trial closed, Mary demanded that she should be heard in front of Parliament or the Queen, but she was fighting a losing battle. Sentence was delayed as long as possible, by order of Elizabeth, but on 25th October the commission reconvened and found Mary guilty. On 29th October, Parliament met to discuss Mary, the Babington Plot and her role in Lord Darnley’s murder, and it was decided that they should petition Elizabeth to execute Mary. This put Elizabeth in a difficult position as she did not want to be accused of regicide. On the 4th December, Mary was publicly proclaimed guilty.

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  • 14 October 1586 – Trial of Mary, Queen of Scots

    On this day in history, 14th October 1586, the trial of Mary, Queen of Scots, began at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire. Historian John Guy, author of My Heart is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots, has written a brilliant chapter on Mary’s downfall, “Nemesis”, and I have him to thank for the information in this article.

    Mary Queen of Scots had, at first, refused to appear before Elizabeth I’s commission, but had been told by William Cecil that the trial would take place with or without her. She appeared in front of the commission at 9am, dressed in a black velvet gown and a white cambric cap and veil. Mary then protested against the commission, arguing that the court was not legitimate and arguing against the fact that she was not allowed legal defence and was not able to call any witnesses. Mary was also not permitted to examine any of the documents being used against her. Her protests were in vain and the prosecution went ahead and opened the trial with an account of the Babington Plot, arguing that Mary knew of the plot, had given it her approval, agreed with it and had promised to help. Mary protested her innocence:

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  • 24 July 1567 – The Abdication of Mary, Queen of Scots

    On 24th July 1567, Mary, Queen of Scots, who was imprisoned at Lochleven Castle and who had recently suffered a miscarriage, was forced to abdicate. The Scottish crown was passed on to her one year-old son, James, who became James VI of Scotland, with his uncle, Mary’s illegitimate half brother, James Stewart, Earl of Moray, acting as regent.

    Claude Nau de la Boisseliere, Mary’s private secretary, recorded this event in his memoirs, which were translated from French into English as The History of Mary Stewart: From the Murder of Riccio Until Her Flight Into England:

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  • Mary, Queen of Scots Letter

    The last letter of Mary, Queen of Scots.

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  • 8 February 1587 – The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots: A Primary Source Account

    This primary source account of the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots is from Original letters, illustrative of English history; with notes and illustrations, Second Series, Volume III, ed. Henry Ellis (p113-118). Ellis notes that “the present narrative is from the Lansdowne MS. 51. art. 46. It is indorsed in Lord Burghley’s hand, “8 Feb. 1586. The Manner of the Q. of Scotts death at Fodrynghay, wr. by Ro. Wy.””

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  • July 24 – An Elizabethan conspirator is born, a priest is executed, and a queen abdicates

    On this day in Tudor history, 24th July 1553, in the reign of Queen Mary I, merchant and conspirator Richard Hesketh was born in Lancashire.

    Hesketh is known for the Hesketh Plot of 1593, when he urged Ferdinando Stanley, 5th Earl of Derby, to lead a rebellion to claim the throne of England.

    But who was Richard Hesketh and why did he plot against Queen Elizabeth I?

    What happened to him and what happened to Ferdinando Stanley?

    And why did Stanley take bezoar stone and unicorn horn?

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  • July 6 – The death of Edward VI and the accession of Queen Jane, Lady Jane Grey

    On this day in Tudor history, 6th July 1553, fifteen-year-old King Edward VI died at Greenwich Palace.

    His “devise for the succession” named his heir as Lady Jane Grey, the daughter of Edward’s cousin, Frances Grey (née Brandon), Duchess of Suffolk.

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  • 18 February – The Ridolfi Plot against Elizabeth I and the birthday of Queen Mary I

    On this day in history, 18th February 1612, Italian banker Roberto di Ridolfi died in Florence, Italy, aged 80.

    Amazingly, he died a natural death even though he’d been the brains behind the Ridolfi Plot, a plot to depose Queen Elizabeth I and to replace her with Mary, Queen of Scots, thereby restoring Catholicism in England.

    Find out more about Ridolfi and his famous plot in this talk…

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  • Hans Holbein’s Portrait of Queen Catherine Howard? by Roland Hui

    A big thank you to our resident art historian, Roland Hui, for this excellent article on a Tudor miniature by Hans Holbein the Younger which is causing controversy at the moment.

    Over to Roland…

    In an essay on the portraiture of Henry VIII’s six wives, art historian Brett Dolman offered the depressing, but sobering, opinion that pictures of one of them, Catherine Howard, may not even exist:

    “Catherine left no documentary proof that her portrait was ever painted during her lifetime, and perhaps, we are searching for the impossible.”…

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  • Celebrate Summer with Mary and Elizabeth

    Today is the first day of Summer! For the occasion we chose two special events that took place in the Summer in the Tudor era. 

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  • 13 May – Queen Anne Boleyn is on her way out

    On 13th May 1536, eleven days after her arrest, the royal household of Queen Anne Boleyn was broken up and her household discharged.

    The queen hadn’t even been tried yet, never mind found guilty!

    Find out more about this day and what happened to members of her household in this #TudorHistoryShorts video…

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  • 2 May – Queen Anne Boleyn is arrested

    On this day in Tudor history, 2nd May 1536, in the reign of King Henry VIII, the king’s second wife, Anne Boleyn, was arrested. What happened on that day? What was she told? Where was she taken?

    Find out in this #TudorHistoryShorts video…

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  • This week in Tudor History Part 2 – A princess marries, a queen faces death, and a spy and lawyer die

    In this second part of “This week in Tudor history” for the week beginning 1st February, I talk about Tudor events and people associated with 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th February.

    4th February 1495, in the reign of King Henry VII – Anne of York, daughter of the late King Edward IV, marries Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, at Westminster Abbey in London…

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  • 25 August – Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk and uncle of two queens

    On this day in history, 25th August 1554, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, magnate, soldier and uncle of Queens Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, died of natural causes at his home of Kenninghall in Norfolk. He was laid to rest in St Michael’s Church, Framlingham, Suffolk.

    Find out more about this important Tudor man, and how he escaped the axe-man and died at a good age in his bed, in this talk.

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