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.