1 year ago
Author: Joel Ridgway
On this day in Tudor history, 8th February 1601, Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex and Queen Elizabeth I’s former favourite, did a rather foolish thing and raised a rebellion against the queen and her council.
Spoilers: It didn’t go well and he ended up being executed as a traitor.
Find out exactly what happened in this talk…
2 years ago
On this day in history Mary Queen of Scots was executed. 434 years ago, early in the morning, Mary was taken from her prison cell to the place of execution at Fotheringhay castle. To commemorate this day, we will be sharing a documentary that was made back in 2019 about her life in Edinburgh. For the first time it is now available for all to enjoy.
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.
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.
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.””