Mary Stuart

The Enigmatic Queen of Scots

In the compilation of our wee summary of Scotland’s first female Monarch, we used the brain of comedian, historian and broadcaster, Susan Morrison. Then off we went and disappeared down the rabbit warren of ‘the web’ to bring something a little more original to the well-told tale of Our Mary.

Royal Ascension

Mary Stuart is probably the most famous of all Scotland’s Monarchs and ascended to the throne at the tender age of 6 days old after her Father, James V, died following battle. It’s a Scottish pedantry that she is known as Queen of Scots – the people’s Queen as well as the sovereign of the land. Mary’s story is one of romance, courage and tragedy.

A Multifaceted Queen

She was glamorous, intelligent, frightening and charismatic. At 5 ft 11, she was extraordinarily tall for a woman of her time and made international headlines during her 44 years of life. She spent the early years of her life in Scotland and France, was massively clever, spoke 6 languages and was renowned for great eloquence. Her first marriage to the Francis, Dauphin of France restored the centuries old Auld Alliance in Scotland (a unification of France and Scotland against England’s colonial aspirations for both countries). A lesser known fact was that Mary was also Queen Consort of France before Francis died in 1560.

Contrasting Biographical Perspectives

As biographies go, hers is full of contrast. Some saw Mary as a charismatic, clever and unifying figure in Scotland whilst others pilloried her for what they perceived as her manipulation and divisiveness. She was worshiped and denounced in equal measure. Eventually, imprisoned by her cousin (Queen Elizabeth I of England) in castles and palaces throughout England for almost 19 years.

Religious Tensions and Political Intrigues

Her life was also much influenced by huge upheaval within the churches of both Scotland and England as the tensions increased between the Protestant and Catholic churches in both Kingdoms - as well as the political and imperial aspirations from both thrones. In her second and most infamous marriage to Lord Darnley (he was murdered and she was one of the key suspects!), Mary gave birth to James VI of Scotland who then went on to become James I of England following the death of Elizabeth I. James later ascension to the English throne secured the Union of the Crowns and the rest is history (and herstory).

Legacy of Strength and Passion

Mary was eventually sentenced to death by Elizabeth on the charge of plotting her assassination. She was executed on February 7th 1587. From all written accounts at the time, she went to her death with courage, dignity and serenity – giving her the status of martyr for many then and still today. Whatever the opinions of Mary’s character, she was strong, brave and passionate.