The Tudor Society
The Tudor Society
  • 14 October – The trial of Mary, Queen of Scots

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

    Although Mary did not recognise the authority of the commission and had threatened not to attend, she had been informed that the trial would go ahead with or without her and so attended.

    Find out all about Mary’s trial, what she was charged with and the evidence that Sir Francis Walsingham had gathered in today’s talk.

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  • 29 September – Elizabeth I tickles Robert Dudley while making him an earl

    On this day in Tudor history, 29th September 1564, Michaelmas, the queen’s favourite, Robert Dudley, was made Earl of Leicester and Baron Denbigh in front of the Scottish ambassador, Sir James Melville.

    Elizabeth I made Dudley an earl so that he’d be suitable as a potential bridegroom for Mary, Queen of Scots, but she couldn’t refrain from a display of affection during the ceremony, tickling him on the neck!

    In today’s talk, I explain why Elizabeth I was prepared to marry her favourite off to Mary, Queen of Scots, what happened on this day in 1564, and what happened next.

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  • 11 September – Mary, Queen of Scots’ Eventful Progress

    On this day in Tudor history, 11th September 1561, eighteen-year-old Mary, Queen of Scots, began her first royal progress in Scotland. Mary had been in Scotland for less than a month, having returned from France, and so wanted to see her homeland and her people, as well as showing her people their queen.

    But this royal progress was to be an eventful one for Mary, Queen of Scots – a brush with death and a violent altercation were included! I tell all in today’s talk.

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  • 19 August – Mary, Queen of Scots returns to Scotland

    On this day in Tudor history, 19th August 1561, Mary, Queen of Scots returned to her homeland, Scotland, from France following the death of her first husband, King Francis II of France.

    In today's talk, I explain the context of her return to Scotland, which would, of course, be the start of her troubles.

    Also on this day in history:

    • 1531 – Burning of Thomas Bilney, Protestant martyr, at Lollard's Pit, just outside Bishopsgate. Although he was burned as a heretic, he actually denied his reformist views and affirmed his Catholic faith at his execution.
    • 1551 – Princess Mary, the future Mary I, wrote to her brother Edward VI regarding the instructions the officers of her household were given about forbidding her chaplains to say Mass and any of her household to hear Mass.
    • 1578 – Death of John Harpsfield, humanist, scholar and Roman Catholic priest, in London. He was buried in St Sepulchre Church, London. Harpsfield is known for his leading role in the Marian persecutions of Protestants and his nine sermons, which appear in Edmund Bonner's 1555 “Homilies”.
    • 1591 – Death of Welsh clergyman and Bible translator Thomas Huet at Tŷ Mawr, Llysdinam, Brecknockshire. He was buried in the chancel of Llanafan Fawr church. Huet helped Richard Davies and William Salesbury translate the “New Testament” into Welsh in 1567.
    • 1601 – Death of William Lambarde, writer, antiquary and lawyer, at Westcombe in East Greenwich. He was buried in St Alphege Church, East Greenwich, but in 1710 his monument was moved to the Lambarde chapel in St Nicholas's Church, Sevenoaks. Lambarde's works included his 1570 “Perambulation of Kent”, the 1581 “Eirenarcha: or of the Office of the Justices of Peace” and the 1591 “Archeion, or, A Discourse Upon the High Courts of Justice in England”.
  • 29 July – Mary, Queen of Scots gets married

    On this day in Tudor history, Sunday 29th July 1565, twenty-three-year-old Mary, Queen of Scots, queen regnant of Scotland, married her second husband, nineteen-year-old Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, at Holyrood Palace.

    In today’s video, I give details of the wedding and how the marriage turned out. It wasn’t happy for long!

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  • 24 July – Mary, Queen of Scots abdicates

    On this day in Tudor history, 24th July 1567, twenty-four-year-old Mary, Queen of Scots, who was imprisoned at Lochleven Castle, and who was recovering after miscarrying twins, was threatened with violence and forced to abdicate. Her young son, James, became King James VI of Scotland in her place.

    I share a contemporary account from Mary’s private secretary regarding what happened that day and how Mary was forced to abdicate.

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  • 1 July – An interesting marriage agreement and rough wooing

    On this day in Tudor history, 1st July 1543, in the reign of King Henry VIII, the Treaties of Greenwich were signed.

    These treaties were between the kingdoms of Scotland and England, and, amongst other terms, was the agreement of a marriage between Prince Edward, the future King Edward VI, and Mary, Queen of Scots.

    Scotland’s subsequent rejection of the treaties led to a war known as the Rough Wooing – a great name!

    In today’s video, I explain what these treaties were all about and what happened in the war known as the Rough Wooing, and why it was called that.

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  • 20 June – The Casket Letters and Mary, Queen of Scots

    On this day in Tudor history, 20th June 1567, a silver casket of eight letters, which have become known as the Casket Letters, were allegedly found in the possession of James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, the third husband of Mary, Queen of Scots.

    These letters were instrumental in bringing down Mary, Queen of Scots, so in today’s video, I tell you a bit more about these letters and why they were “dynamite” for Elizabeth I’s advisors.

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  • 2 May – Mary, Queen of Scots escapes!

    On this day in Tudor history, 2 May 1568, Mary, Queen of Scots, who had recently been forced to abdicate in favour of her son, King James VI, successfully escaped from Lochleven Castle.

    How did she end up a prisoner at Lochleven? How did she escape? And what happened next?

    Let me explain…

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  • 24 April – Mary, Queen of Scots gets married

    On this day in Tudor history, 24th April 1558, fifteen-year-old Mary, Queen of Scots, got married for the first time. The groom was fourteen-year-old Francis, the Dauphin of France.

    Find out more about the bride and groom, their wedding and what happened to them in today’s video.

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  • 14 April – The death of the insane Earl of Bothwell, husband of Mary, Queen of Scots

    On this day in Tudor history, 14th April 1578, Mary, Queen of Scots’ third husband, James Hepburn, Duke of Orkney and 4th Earl of Bothwell, died at Dragsholm Castle in Denmark. He’d been held at the castle in appalling conditions and it was said that he’d gone insane.

    Find out more about the life of this earl who’d risen to be the husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, but who’d died in prison, far away from home, in today’s “on this day in Tudor history” video.

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  • 9 March – Mary, Queen of Scots’ secretary is murdered

    On this day in history, 9th March 1566, a pregnant Mary, Queen of Scots witnessed the murder of her private secretary, David Rizzio. He was stabbed fifty-six times and one of the gang responsible was her own husband, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley.

    What happened? Why was Rizzio murdered? How was Darnley involved? What happened next? All of these questions are answered in today’s video.

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  • 10 February – The murder of Lord Darnley

    On 10th February 1567, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, was murdered at Kirk o’Field in Edinburgh. In today’s video, I tell you what happened.

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  • Mary Queen of Scots True or False Quiz

    As Friday was the anniversary of the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots on 8th February 1587, I thought I would test your knowledge on the Scottish queen who was the nemesis of Queen Elizabeth I. Good luck!

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  • 3 February – Elizabeth I signs a death warrant

    In today’s video, I read an excerpt from my book “On This Day in Tudor History” about an event which happened on 3rd February 1587 and which was connected to Mary, Queen of Scots.

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  • Happy birthday Mary, Queen of Scots!

    Today is the anniversary of the birth of Mary, Queen of Scots, on 8th December 1542. She was the daughter of James V of Scotland and his second wife, Marie de Guise, and the granddaughter of Margaret Tudor (Henry VIII’s sister) and James IV of Scotland.

    One of the mottos associated with Mary, Queen of Scots, is “En ma Fin gît mon Commencement” , or “In my End is my Beginning”, and she is more famous for her brutal end at the hands of the axeman on 8th February 1587.

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  • Robert Dudley is made Earl of Leicester – 29 September 1564

    On this day in history, 29th September 1564, Robert Dudley was made Earl of Leicester, an earldom which had been planned earlier in the year to make him more acceptable as a bridegroom to Mary, Queen of Scots. This earldom was an important one, having previously been held by royal princes like John of Gaunt and Henry of Bolingbroke (Henry IV). Although Dudley behaved impeccably at the ceremony, the queen did not. As she put the chain of earldom around Dudley’s neck, she “could not refrain from putting her hand in his neck to kittle him smilingly.” A loving gesture and perhaps one that was meant to reassure Dudley that he was still hers.

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  • Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots – True or False quiz

    Happy Sunday! The trailer for the new Mary, Queen of Scots movie has caused lots of controversy amongst history lovers so I was inspired to make this Mary, Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I quiz. So, grab your favourite beverage and snack, make yourself comfortable and let’s get those little grey cells working!

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  • 24 April 1558 – The marriage of Mary, Queen of Scots, and the Dauphin of France

    On this day in history, 24th April 1558, Mary, Queen of Scots, married Francis, the Dauphin of France, at Notre Dame in Paris. Mary was fifteen, and Francis was fourteen.

    In his book The Book of the Ladies (Illustrious Dames), Pierre de Bourdeille, seigneur de Brantôme, wrote of their marriage:

    “This lady and princess pleased France so much that King Henri was urged to give her in alliance to the dauphin, his beloved son, who, for his part, was madly in love with her. The marriage was therefore solemnly celebrated in the great church and the palace of Paris; where we saw this queen appear more beauteous than a goddess from the skies, whether in the morning, going to her espousals in noble majesty, or leading, after dinner, at the ball, or advancing in the evening with modest steps to offer and perform her vows to Hymen; so that the voice of all as one man resounded and proclaimed throughout the Court and the great city that happy a hundredfold was he, the prince, thus joined to such a princess; and even if Scotland were a thing of price its queen out-valued it; for had she neither crown nor sceptre, her person and her glorious beauty were worth a kingdom; therefore, being a queen, she brought to France and to her husband a double fortune.

    This was what the world went saying of her; and for this reason she was called queen-dauphine and her husband the king-dauphin, they living together in great love and pleasant concord.”

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  • 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:

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  • 14 December – A death, an accession and a burial

    On this day in 1542, James V died at Falkland Palace in Falkland, Fife, Scotland, after being taken ill following the Scots’ defeat at the Battle of Solway Moss on 24th November. It is not known what killed him – some argue that it was a nervous collapse, and others that it was a virus.

    While James was on his deathbed, his consort, Mary of Guise, gave birth to a daughter, and it was the six-day-old baby who became Mary, Queen of Scots on her father’s death. John Knox and the chronicler Robert Lindsay of Pitscottie both recorded that James uttered the words “it came wi a lass, it’ll gang wi a lass” (“it came with a lass, it will end with a lass”) as he lay dying, referring to how the Stuart dynasty began with a girl, through Marjorie Bruce, Robert the Bruce’s daughter, and how he feared it would now end with his daughter, Mary. However, the Stuart dynasty actually ended with another girl, Queen Anne, in 1714, and it is not known that James actually ever said these words.

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  • 11 September 1561 – Mary, Queen of Scots, sets off on progress

    On this day in history, 11th September 1561, eighteen-year-old Mary, Queen of Scots, began her first royal progress. It was to last until 29th September and was the first of nine royal progresses that Mary undertook before she fled to England in 1568.

    On this progress, Mary visited Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh Castle, Linlithgow Palace, Stirling Castle, Kincardine Castle, Leslie Castle, Perth, Dundee, St Andrews, Cupar and Falkland Palace.

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  • Mary Queen of Scots movie due in 2018

    Apologies for the delay in posting this news but I was away in Moscow when it was being shared around on social media. Thank you to all those who sent me messages about it.

    A new film due out in 2018 will be of interest to Tudor Society members, not only because it’s on Mary, Queen of Scots, but because it is based on John Guy’s excellent book on Mary, “My Heart Is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots”, which is a must-read. The film’s cast includes Saoirse Ronan as Mary, Queen of Scots, Margot Robbie as Queen Elizabeth I, Jack Lowden as Lord Darnley, Martin Compston as the Earl of Bothwell, Joe Alwyn as Robert Dudley, Brendan Coyle as Matthew Stewart, 4th Earl of Lennox, and David Tennant as Anthony Babington, so some big names.

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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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  • 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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  • James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell

    James Hepburn, 1st Duke of Orkney, 4th Earl of Bothwell and the third husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, was the son of Patrick Hepburn, 3rd Earl of Bothwell and Lord High Admiral, known as the “Fair Earl”, and his wife Agnes Sinclair, daughter of Henry Sinclair, 3rd Lord Sinclair. In 1556, on his father’s death, James became 4th Earl of Bothwell and Lord High Admiral of Scotland.

    In 1559/1560 Bothwell visited Denmark on the way to France and met Anna Throndsen (Anne Thorssen). He is alleged to have seduced and even married Anne but deserted her. In 1566, he married Jean Gordon, second eldest daughter of George Gordon, Earl of Huntly, but the marriage was not a happy one, as Jean accused Bothwell of adultery with her maid and seamstress, Bessie Crawford. The marriage was annulled in May 1567 on the grounds of consanguinity. Eight days after the divorce, Bothwell married Mary, Queen of Scots.

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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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