2019, Historical, Historical Couples, History, Mary, Queen of Scots, Scottish History, Scottish romance

The Ruinous Beginning of Mary, Queen of Scots

Lord Darnley was dead.

The Scottish lords should have been pleased. They never liked him and for them, Lord Darnley’s death benefitted them greatly.

How?

His death was the beginning of the end of their Catholic queen. According to Mary, Queen of Scots, and the Murder of Lord Darnley, “Parliament held in December 1567, when Mary had reached twenty-five and, had she not by then been deposed, would have legally been able to revoke grants made during her minority.”

What did that mean to the Scottish Lords?

Mary granted the Earldoms of Moray, Morton and Angus during her minority to men of Protestant faith, including the Earldom of Moray to her bastard brother, Lord James Stewart, and she could revoke them.

What does this have to do with historical couples? Now once again, Mary’s hand and very reign was in danger in a way that had not been since the Rough Wooing of her childhood.

Now every action, word or look Mary made was judged and used against her. And she made some bad choices. There are two reasons for her actions: First, grief (not the best time to be thinking clearly) and second, she believed Darnley’s death was a plot to kill her. Nevertheless, Mary entered mourning. Black hung in her apartments.

She didn’t remain at Holyrood for long. She took Prince James (who had remained with her since his birth) and went to the safety of Edinburgh Castle to be locked away for the forty days of mourning–the same she had done for her first husband.

Enter husband number three, the Earl of Bothwell. James Hepburn, the fourth Earl of Bothwell was described as “glorious (vainglorious), rash, and hazardous young man.” He stood about five feet six inches, which was described as middle stature and well below Mary and Lord Darnley’s height. Another member at court described him as “an ape” and “of greatly bodily strength and beauty, although vicious and isolate in his habits.” He had a swarthy complexion and a nose that appears to have been broken.

Portrait of Lord Bothwell
James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell

His power base resided in East Lothian and the Borders. He didn’t like the English and given his region along the borders, such a feeling was understandable. He was not just an Earl, he was the Lord High Admiral of Scotland, a heredity position. As much as many Scottish lords and English hated the man, they knew he was not stupid.

During this time, he was married to Jean Gordon, the daughter of the dead fourth Earl of Huntly, and sister to the new fifth Earl of Huntly.

Lord Bothwell took control of the government.

On the 12 February 1566, Darnley’s embalmed body was laid in state and three days later, he was buried. The next day, the council concerned for Mary’s health persuade her to give up her mourning since it affected her health adversely. Since October 1566, Mary had been ill. The queen agreed never knowing that this was another mark that would be used against her later in life. So, she traveled to Seton Castle.

On the 16th of February, the placards began to appeared on the Tollbooth’s door in Edinburgh. The first accused Bothwell of Darnley’s murder. Two nights later, another appeared, this one accusing Mary’s foreign servants.

Mary briefly returned to Edinburgh only to leave again, this time Bothwell was included in her train. During this time, Queen Elizabeth and mother-in-law Catherine de Medici, dowager Queen of France, advised her in letters to seize the murders. Both understood the danger especially Elizabeth as she had faced fierce talk about Lord Dudley’s wife’s death and her invovlement.

Mary placed the investigation in the hands of her Councillors (though most didn’t want the murder to be solved) as well as issuing a proclamation offering a worthy reward to anyone who identified the murderers and she summoned Parliament to debate the next steps in inquiry.

Lord Lennox (Darnley’s father and a Scottish Lord) placed her in a difficult position by asking her to arrest members of her council and her servants on evidence that was more hearsay than fact, which was illegal. Yet, she couldn’t refused.

The next day, another placard was nailed to Tollbooth. This one was “where was these letters written in Roman hand, very great, M.R., with a sword in her hand near the same letters; then an L.B. (for Lord Bothwell?) with a mallet near them.” This started linking the queen to the accused murderers of her husband and started shifting the well-favored opinion of their queen. More placards appeared and continued but the most infamous one was that truly damned her reputation was the mermaid one.

According to Weir, “It depicted a bare-breasted and crowned mermaid–a mermaid then being a symbol for a siren or prostitute–holding a whip above a hare surrounded by swords; the mermaid was undoubtedly meant to be the Queen, while the hare was Bothwell’s heraldic device. The mermaid was protecting the hare with a whip, but none dared approach it anyway because of the threatening swords.”

Still Mary didn’t turn from Bothwell not even banishing him from her side at the very least. She talked of living in France. She was becoming more stressed. It appears that her fears of her coming death and mixed with her grief, she was spiraling and her mental health was very disturbed. She decided that the Prince would be safer at Stirling.

Factions were splitting. Meanwhile, the Countess of Bothwell recovered from her illness. In a letter, Lady Bothwell wrote that she had been poisoned and many believed it to be so. She sought out a divorce and with her brother’s support, she issued the first procuratory– a document authorizing legal action. She filed on the grounds of adultery.

Not all was against Mary, accusations flowed in Scotland, France, and even England against the Earl of Moray. Still, Mary’s health was failing and soon came Bothwell’s trial.

On April 12, 1567, Bothwell’s trial began. In the dawn hours of that day, Queen Elizabeth’s messenger arrived with a letter for Mary, telling her to postpone Bothwell’s trial. The messenger was told that Mary was not to be disturbed at that early an hour. But when he returned Bothwell’s men promised to give it to her. It seems she never received it.

At noon, the trial began and seven hours later, Bothwell was free. Two days later, Parliament met and by April 19, it closed. That night Bothwell hosted a supper for the lords at a tavern most historians agree was named Ainslie’s Tavern in Edinburgh.

Once food had been consumed along with wine, Bothwell whipped out a bond and asked for them to sign it. The bond was for their agreement that the Earl of Bothwell become husband number three.

Present at this supper were both Catholic and Protestant lords. The original no longer survives but there were suppose to be 28 or 29 signatures but some lords were not known to have signed but their names are rumored to be included.

After this night, Mary’s ruin had began and as history shows would not be halted.

2019, Historical, Historical Couples, Historical Romance, History, Love, Mary, Queen of Scots, Scotland, Scottish, Scottish History, true Historical Romance Stories

A Marriage Explodes And Brings Down A Queen

Historical Couples Mary, Queen of Scots Part III

Rizzio was dead. Darnley and Mary escaped from Holyrood. Heavily pregnant, Mary rode for five hours to Dunbar Castle.

To refresh your memory or find out what happened, check out this link. https://matroche.com/2019/04/22/mary-queen-of-scots-and-the-man-who-would-bring-her-the-english-crown/

Now in the Royal Castle, Mary gathered her loyal supporters. Days laters, those men invovled in Rizzio’s death fled. By now, Mary’s army numbered 8000 men, she rode at the head of army into Edinburgh. She regained control of her realm. She pardoned some conspirators who were not directly involved with Rizzio’s murder. Her plan was simple, drive a wedge between these group of men.

Darnley signed a declaration that he was not a part of the murder. This fit Mary’s needs because she couldn’t have doubts about her unborn child’s legitimacy. In April of 1566, the Earl of Moray (Lord James Stewart, bastard half-brother to Mary and Protestant) arrived at Edinburgh Castle, where Mary was residing.

She gave Moray permission to stay at the imposing castle to keep a close watch on him. She knew that Moray held the support of Protestant lords as well as England and had to play it this way to keep support for her. This time Mary wouldn’t trust her half-brother but she knew that she needed him. The Protestants of Scotland looked to him as their leader. And Scottish lords had no problem rebelling against or killing their monarch. They had done so before.

Before the Scottish court, Mary gave the appearance of marital happiness but Darnley had been shut out from her graces and the seat of power. On 19 June 1566, Mary gave birth to James, the Duke of Rothesay (future James VI of Scotland and James I of England). Scotland had an heir to the throne and they rejoiced. Mary soared to great heights.

Darnley, though, was leading “a very disorderly life. Every night, he left the castle and went out vagabonding and drinking heavily with his young male friends in the streets of Edinburgh. He would return at all hours of the night, so that the castle gates had to be unlocked for him, which left Mary feeling ‘there was no safety, either for herself or her son.'”

Mary decided to keep James with her. She was fearful her enemies make steal him away and rule in his name. (Spoiler: That would happen) It didn’t help Mary that Darnley was still plotting to become king. The man was far from Mary’s good graces. He knew nothing of the Queen’s actions, daily life and certainly knew nothing of her affection. Mary seeking someone she could trust, she was turning more and more to the Earl of Bothwell.

Sadly for Mary, the men in her life sucked. And Darnley’s intrigue wasn’t the only on occurring. Moray and Bothwell, both had their own separate plans that would lead to death and the loss of the Scottish crown.

In October 1566, Mary gathered her Border lords for a justice eyre (a circuit court to hear legal cases). Darnley requested to accompany her and he was refused. Not pleased, Darnley starts to throw what I call hissy fits. One fit was his threat to sail away from Scotland. Mary could not allow such a thing. That posed a threat to her, her son and realm.

In the lowlands, during the eyre, Lord Bothwell had been attacked and injured. On 15 October, Mary learned on this and rode from Jedburgh to Hermitage Castle (The Earl of Bothwell’s, James Hepburn, holding) then rode back to Jedburgh. A sixty mile round trip that would be come to bite her in the ass.

The rest of 1566, Mary was ill and rested at Craigmillar Castle. During her recovery, Darnley appears again only to disappear to Mary’s relief. Her husband was a necessary nuisance. Her lords were trying to find a way to divorce her from her wastrel of a husband. He was a danger to her yet she couldn’t risk the standing of her son–a divorce would have James declared illegitmate. Yet, Mary knew that her husband wanted her dead. Her death would lead to a regency and Darnley wanted to be appointed Regent. Scotland had had a regency since 1393 and Mary, Queen of Scots (Scotland would have another under Mary’s son).

But many wanted Darnley dead too.

In 1567, (According to testimony made in 1573) a bond was drawn up to kill Darnley. No record exists and no one saw this written bond. But that didn’t stop the English and Cecil and Walingsham from using this testimony)

At the end of 1566, Darnley became ill with pox, syphillis as the Diurnal of Occurents’ stated. The sixteenth century cure wasn’t an easy one. It was mercury baths. He was at his father’s stronghold near Glasgow. That wasn’t necessary a good thing for Mary.

In the beginning in 1567, Mary had proof of two conspiracies: Lords against Darnely with plans to kill him and Darnley against Mary. With no other choice, Mary rode to Glasgow to confront her husband and bring him to Edinburgh to watch him.

Now the queen had her husband and Bothwell had recovered from his injuries and journeyed to the royal burgh. The plan was to lodge Darnely in Craigmillar. But he feared being locked up and killed so he went to Kirk o’ Field. Later many would say that Mary had set up the house in order to kill him. But that choice was Darnley’s.

The house “lay to the south of Edinburgh, on a hill overlooking the Cowgate; it stood just inside the city wall and three-quarters of a mile from Holyrood Palace, in a semi-rural location, ‘environed with pleasant gardens, and removed from the noise of the people.'”

Mary saw that her husband had all the luxuries the husband of the queen could want or need. As he recovered, the queen “visited her husband daily.” According to Alison Weir’s book, Mary, Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord Darnley, she spent two nights at Kirk o’ Field, sleeping in the bedroom below his. They sat up late, sometimes until midnight, talking, playing cards or listening to music, and ‘many nobles’ came with the Queen to divert the convalescent.

Though, Mary might have shown kindess to her husband, she didn’t trust him and continued to learn of all his undermined plans against her.

On 9 February 1567, the last day of Sunday before the beginning of Lent, the queen had a full schedule. She had a wedding of her favorite servants, attended a banquet and around 7, she rode to Kirk o’ Field in the company of Lords Bothwell, Argyll and Huntly. They spent the time playing dice and chatting. The group including the Queen were dressed for the wedding masque that they would be attending later that night.

At midnight, Mary and the lords departed. This night has many stories depending on who you believe and when the story is told. Whatever you believe, Mary returned to Holyrood, attended the masque and took part in the bedding ceremony of the newlyweds then returned to her apartments.

There she held a meeting with the Captain of her Guards and Bothwell. The captain left Bothwell and the queen alone where they talked in private for some time then Bothwell left and Mary went to bed. Another act that would be used against Mary.

Shortly before 2 a.m. Mary was woken by an explosion. She thought it might be cannon fire and sent messengers to learn what was happening. They returned with the news of an explosion of Kirk o’ Field and the belief that Darnley was dead.

Map of Kirk o’ Field on night of murder comissioned by Sir William Cecil

Lord Bothwell was the Sheriff of Edinburgh and the duty to investigate fell to him. His servant had to wake him. He sent his men then returned to bed.

Bodies of servants were discovered in the rubble remains of the house but Darnley had not been find. “At last, at 5 a.m., three hours after the explosion, someone thought to look in the south garden and orchard, beyond Flodden Wall, and it was there that they found the bodies of the twenty-year-old king and his valet.” Both men were dressed in short nightshirts and neither body had a mark on their flesh. “Darnley was stretched out on his back, under a pear tree, with one hand draped modestly over his genitals.”

Near the bodies was a chair, rope, and a dagger. The clothing weren’t burned, scorched or black from powder.

Mary learned of the news. She fell into deep grief and stayed in her chamber all day. Weir writes, “There is no doubt that Darnley’s murder left Mary grief-stricken, emotionally shattered and fearful for her own safety. For several months afterwards, she seems not to have functioned normally, and her judgment, never very good at the best of times, utterly failed her.”

This was the beginning in the end for her as Scotland’s queen and her life.

2019, heroine, Historical, Historical Couples, History, Mary, Queen of Scots, Oscar winning, Scotland, Scottish, Scottish Historical Romance, Scottish History

Mary, Queen of Scots and the Men in her life.

You may not know this but I love–and I mean love Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland. I first learned of her when I was a little girl about nine or ten years old. And I must confess that I was heartbroken when I learned of her execution. When I say heartbroken, I mean that I mourned her as I have never mourned a person I did not know personally let alone one who had been dead for hundreds of years.

So when the Mary, Queen of Scots movie was released I was thrilled. I must confess something else that is very shameful. I haven’t seen the film yet. Every time I plan to go something comes up and I’m unable to go to the movies.

Naturally, I had to write Mary Stuart and the men she married. First is Francis, the Dauphin of France and her first husband. Their love story doesn’t start with their marriage. The story begin in Scotland.

Mary Stuart was born on 8 December 1542. About a week old and this tiny infant became Queen of Scotland. Her father, James V died days after the defeat at the Battle of Solway Moss. She was crowned September 9, 1543.

Henry VIII, the king of England, decided that the Scottish Queen should marry his five-year-old son, Prince Edward and that the young queen be reared in the English court.

Well her mother, Mary of Guise, didn’t agree with that. So started the Rough Wooing. At this time, the future Dauphin Francis (The title for the French heir to the throne) was not yet born so to Henry’s thinking who else but the future king of England for the Scottish queen. That would bring England and Scotland under one crowned couple. Henry’s attitude to Scotland was burn it to the ground. During this time, the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh was fought. The queen was moved from castle to castle, home to home in order to keep her safe and far from English hands.

In 1548, her mother made a marriage agreement with France (her home nation) for Mary to wed Francis. In July, she sailed to France.

Francis of Valois was born in 1544 to the King of France and Catherine de Medici. He was sickly from birth. The cause was believed due to all the concoctions Catherine took to get pregnant. It took her ten years before she had Francis.

Mary met her future husband and these two got along from the start. Mary was raised in the nursery alongside Francis and his sister Elisabeth as royal children. There she lived in luxury and in the splendour that is France and its castles. She learned to speak French, her preferred tongue, but this Queen of Scots never lost the Scots tongue.

The time came for the young royal couple to wed. On Sunday, April 24, 1558, Francis and Mary wed in the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Mary–according to Antonia Fraser’s biography Mary Queen of Scots— “was dressed in a robe as white as lilies, so sumptuous and rich that the pen of the contemporary observer fell from his hands at the thought of describing it.”

White was a favorite shade of Mary since she looked best in that color. But it was also the traditional color of mourning for the queens of France. The wedding celebrations were a three-day affair.

These two seemed to have a very caring, loving relationship with reports of them sitting in the corners of the court, apart from everyone with their heads together and giving kisses to each other. Though, they were different in nature. Mary was fearless and Francis was timid.

Now whether their marriage was consummated is up for debate. Francis had a delicate nature as well as a deformity–undescended testicles, which lead to his stunted height and lacking physique. Mary towered over him as she did with most people.

Yet, Mary says that it did. However, people say that as an untried miss ignorant of such things, she would think that sleeping together in the same bed and some petting and such would mean that the royal couple had sex.

On July 10, 1559, King Henry II of France died and now Francis was king and Mary was Queen of France and Scotland. They were just teenagers with the king fifteen and Mary sixteen. The French court went into mourning.

Francis was crowned in September but Mary wasn’t since she was already Queen of Scotland there was no need to confirm her royal state. The court returned to mourning.

It was during this time her mother died. Then in 1560, Francis complained of a ghastly ear-ache then a few days later he fell down in a faint. He had a large swelling behind his left ear. Mary and her mother-in-law, Catherine de Medici nursed him themselves. Mary left his side once to go to church to pray for Francis’ recovery. Other than that, she was at his side.

Francis died a month before his seventeenth birthday. At eighteen, Mary was a widow and Dowager Queen of France. Her and Francis had never been apart for longer than a few months. He had been at her side since she was a girl of five. Mary must have felt lost. No doubt, that they loved each other. But I believe that their relationship was a love that didn’t burn with a passion but was warm and sometimes brotherly and sisterly but was a partnership for them both.

Mary grief was heavy and she wrote a poem (as she did and there is a book of her verses.)

Wherever I may be
In the woods or in the fields
Whatever the hour of day
Be it dawn or the eventide
My heart still feels it yet
The eternal regret...
As I sink into my sleep
The absent one is near
Alone upon my couch
I feel his beloved touch
In work or in repose
We are forever close...

Now, Mary could no remain in France so to Scotland, she was to go. Where she will meet the English Lord Henry Darnley.

Fraser, Antonia (2001). Mary Queen of Scots. New York, New York: Bantam Dell.