Mary Queen of Scots: Stories, Trivia, And A Botched Beheading

By | February 6, 2020

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Portrait of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots. (Wikipedia Commons)

When King James V of Scotland died at the ripe age of 30 (hey, it was ripe for medieval times), his kingdom was in a bit of a pickle. His only surviving legitimate child was a little girl born just six days earlier, but an heir's an heir, so Mary Stuart became Scotland's baby queen. She would spend most of her childhood in France, however, in preparation for her arranged marriage to the heir to the French throne, the Dauphin Francis. Sadly, it was a short romance. Young King Francis died only a year into their marriage from an ear infection that caused his brain to swell, and it was back to the homeland for Mary, Queen of Scots.

A widow at only age 18, she thought being back among her people would be a welcome change, but we all know that family can be complicated, especially when one of your cousins happens to be the queen of your longtime frenemy nation. While Mary initially approached Queen Elizabeth I of England with earnest familial respect, Elizabeth was wary of the younger queen. After all, since Elizabeth never married or had children, Mary could fairly lay claim to the English throne if push came to shove.  

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John Rogers, the first victim of the Marian persecutions in England, 1555. (Wikipedia Common)

Push may very well have come to shove between the Protestants and Catholics, as it had during the reign of Elizabeth's sister, Mary Tudor A.K.A. Bloody Mary. English Mary tried to reinstate Catholic rule over England after her father, Henry VIII, departed from the Church, and in the process, she burned a few hundred Protestants at the stake. One could see why the Scottish Protestants side-eyed the Roman Catholic Mary Stuart, afraid that she would set the stage for another reign of Protestant oppression.