Mary Queen of Scots

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Mary Queen of Scots

Mary Queen of Scots

Mary, Queen of Scots was heir to the throne of England as the granddaughter of Margaret Tudor, who married James IV of Scotland.

She became Queen of Scotland in 1542, at the age of 6 days old. Her mother ruled Scotland in her name until Mary returned to her homeland in 1561. She was charming, educated and beautiful, but despite this she found many enemies. Many of the Scottish Lords saw her as a French impostor. She married a descendant of the Tudor family, Lord Darnley, therefore strengthening her claim to the English throne.

In March 1556 her husband tried to overthrow her in the Rizzio Plot. She won him over and the two escaped to Dunbar.

In 1557 Lord Darnley was murdered. A close ally (and probable lover) of the Queen was implicated. Acquitted, he and Mary married. But it was the beginning of the end. The Scottish Church was outraged. She soon lost the support of her Lords and then of her people.

Mary abdicated in favour of her son, and the Regent Lord Murray. She was imprisoned in Lochleven Castle. In May 1568 she escaped. She tried one last stand against Murray, but was defeated, fled to England, arriving on the Cumbrian coast in a small boat.

Elizabeth felt that it was too much of a threat to have this woman on her land. Those who opposed her could rally behind her as a figurehead. There was ambiguity about her religion. Although she was married under Protestant rights it was widely believed that she was Catholic.

She was kept as a prisoner in Bolton Castle, Yorkshire, for a few months before being transported to the midlands under the watchful eyes of Lord Shrewsbury and his wife, Bess of Hardwick.

Mary and Norfolk

The Duke of Norfolk planned to marry Mary and then claim her as Elizabeth's successor. He assured the support of a couple of significant men (Leicester and Throckmorton). However, Leicester told all to Cecil when interviewed, and Norfolk fled.

A rebellion did follow, but Norfolk escaped with his life.

The Ridolfi Plot

Norfolk, Ridolfi (an Italian banker), Mary, Lord Lumley, de Spes, Philip II and the pope plotted to land over 6000 men at Harwich. These men would join with English Catholics in an attempt to overthrow Elizabeth and place Mary on the throne.

This time Norfolk could not get away with it. She delayed three times in signing his death warrant, as he was the country's only Duke and a relative of hers.

Elizabeth would not execute a second relative, nor did she want to set a modern precedent for executing monarchs. Mary was not even removed from the succession.

The Throckmorton Plot

Francis Throckmorton belonged to a Catholic family. Another plot was hatched with him as the leader for the overthrow of Elizabeth, to be replaced with Mary as Queen. The plan was the brainchild of the Duke of Guise. Again, Philip II and the Pope were to finance the scheme.

Walsingham discovered the plot and Throckmorton was executed. Mary, the figurehead of a rebellion for the third time, was spared.

As a result of the rebellion the Bond of Association was created. Volunteers who promised to avenge any overthrow of Elizabeth were invited to sign the Bond. It was incredibly successful.

Walsingham found Mary to be in secret correspondence with the French ambassador. At the same time a plot by Babbington to kill Elizabeth and install Mary was discovered. Mary had replied to Babbington that she approved of the murder of Elizabeth. A letter which had been intercepted. Babbington was executed and Mary went on trial.

Mary was found guilty by the court in October 1586 but still Elizabeth could not bring herself to sign the death warrant.

By February 1587 there were very real fears of a Spanish invasion. Elizabeth signed the death warrant, but told the Secretary of State not to seal it. He did nevertheless and Mary was executed on 8 February. Elizabeth was informed only after the execution. Elizabeth was wracked with remorse at this action. She had killed a Queen anointed by God. She wrote an apology to James VI.