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The History of Mary Queen of Scots

The History of Mary Queen of Scots

Mary, Queen of Scots was one of the most interesting monarchs of the 16th century in Europe. She, at one point held the crown of four countries – Scotland, France, England and Ireland. Her heart and beauty were renowned throughout Europe by both her subjects and enemies. However, for all her beauty and graciousness – her political skills however were not nearly as strong as they needed to be to continue a successful rule in Scotland. 

Let’s go back to the beginning of her legacy. In 1542, King James V of Scotland was on his death bed and received news of Mary’s birth, he reportedly said, ‘Woe is me. My dynasty came with a lass. It will go with a lass.’ James’s ancestor, Robert II, had become King of Scots in 1371. James died within the week of Mary’s birth and she was named a Queen of the Scots.

In 1546, the King of England, Henry VIII, became mentally unstable and erratic and ordered the murder of Cardinal Beaton, who was the Scots patriot. Prior to this mental breakdown, Mary, had a contract marriage to his son, once the Scots found out of the murder and that the king had ordered they were adamant to break the marriage contract and instead they sent 5-year old Mary to France where her mother was born. 

Mary was five when she met her four-year-old betrothed. According to contemporaries that surrounded them, Mary and Dauphin were very close even as children. 

The year of 1560 was a hard year for Mary, both her father and her mother had passed away – upon hearing this she returned to Scotland and by 1561 she arrived at the port of Edinburgh. The Scots were delighted with their new queen, with her cousin earning the name “bloody Mary” it is easy to see why the Scots were so elated that Mary, Queen of the Scots had come. In 1563, Mary began the traditional ‘royal progress’ throughout Scotland.

In 1564, the fourth Earl of Atholl organized a great hunt in honor of the queen and, yet again, Mary charmed all who met her. Yet she also treaded hazardous grounds with her policy of non-discrimination and desire to unify the nation which took power away from the independent nobles. Mary became friends with one of the most learned Protestants of the time, George Buchanan. In the political world, Mary kept up peaceful relations with France, Spain, and England. But, in 1566, her persistence was tried by English ambassador’s persistent who was spying; eventually Mary ordered him out of the kingdom and declared him “persona non grata”. Mary’s peace with France and Spain was kept without a treaty, even though treaty would have benefitted Scotland against England to future conflicts. However, Mary knew that any treaty could compromise her subjects, which could subject them to yet another war and causing strife between them. Above all, she wanted peace and prosperity, and she kept Scotland safely distanced from political machinations. When the threat to Mary’s reign finally came, it was not from one of these outside powers; indeed, it came from within her own nation.

In 1568, she ran from England in hopes of finding help from her cousin, Elizabeth I. Mary was imprisoned for nineteen years and in 1587 she was executed by orders of the English government and after Elizabeth’s death in 1603, Mary’s son became King of England as James I. 

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