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"In my end is my beginning."


 "Princes at all times have not their wills, but my heart being my own is immutable."


Mary I (1542 - 1587) of The House of Stuart, popularly known as Mary, Queen of Scots, Queen of Scotland from 1542 to her forced abdication in 1567. She was the only surviving legitimate child of King James V. Because Mary was only six days old when her father, King James V, died, her mother, Mary of Guise, assumed the Regency of the kingdom and arranged her marriage to Francis, heir to the throne of France, who was crowned as Francis II in 1559, only to die the next year.

After Francis's death, Mary returned to Scotland, where her Roman Catholicism made her unpopular in a country that had adopted the Calvinist form of Protestantism. Mostly among the nobility; she was very charismatic and capable of winning the common subjects to her side when need be. In 1564, she married her first cousin, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, a fellow Catholic and, like her, a claimant to the throne of England. The marriage was a distinctly unhappy one — by nearly all accounts, Darnley was both vicious and effeminate, while Mary was widely accused of luxury and adultery, supposedly with the French poet Chastelard and her Italian secretary and court musician, David Rizzio, whom Darnley (in league with the Protestant Scots lords) murdered in the Queen's presence in 1566. Following a separation, Darnley took refuge from his numerous enemies in a house at Kirk o' Field — which was blown up in February 1567, though Darnley himself apparently escaped the explosion, as he was subsequently found strangled to death in the garden.

Popular opinion blamed Mary, who was supposed to have wanted to clear the way for her lover, James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, who kidnapped and married her in April 1567. (Whether this was consensual, a plot between Mary and Bothwell that made their marriage absolutely mandatory to preserve the Queen's honor, or just plain rape is still a matter of debate.)

A rebellion resulted; Bothwell fled the country and Mary was imprisoned in Loch Leven Castle and forced to abdicate the throne in favor of her son, the one-year-old, James VI (later James I of England). After an unsuccessful attempt to regain the throne, Mary fled to England seeking protection from her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I of England. Elizabeth, however, ordered her arrest, as she and her Protestant councilors (not entirely unjustifiably) considered Mary a focus for Catholic conspiracies against her rule. After nearly twenty years of imprisonment (Elizabeth was notably hesitant to condemn her), she was tried and executed for treason on the grounds of conspiracy to assassinate Elizabeth and place herself on the throne of England.

Mary's life and character have been a matter of great dispute ever since her execution. She has been depicted by supporters of Elizabeth and the Protestant settlement as a murderous adulteress and Machiavellian Papist plotter, while those on the Catholic side often view her as a spotless martyr and the victim of Protestant treachery. She has, at any rate, been generally depicted as a beautiful, elegant, and wildly romantic woman.


  • Alternative Character Interpretation: You might call Mary the queen of this trope.
  • Arranged Marriage: Henry VIII wanted to arrange a marriage between his son and Mary, but Mary's mother was French and arranged a marriage to the Dauphin of France instead.
  • Crowning Moment of Awesome: Her escape after the Rizzio murder. She sweet-talked Darnley, her husband and one of the co-conspirators, into helping her escape and rode off into the night, despite being heavily pregnant. Alternatively, the Chaseabout Raid.
  • Evil Uncle: Her French uncles, the Guise brothers, had a tendency to view her as a pawn for advancing their own interests.
  • Fatal Flaw: Her horrible choice of allies, her lack of patience and her unbending sense of self-righteousness.
  • Fiery Redhead
  • Kangaroo Court: She was denied access to the documents that proved her guilt, for one thing. She also made the argument that she had no obligation to submit to an English court, as she was not an English citizen and an anointed queen in her own right.
  • Kissing Cousins: Darnley.
  • Love Ruins the Realm: Bothwell.
  • One Steve Limit: Had four attendants who were also named Mary.
  • Parental Abandonment: Her father died when she was 6 days old, and her mother shipped her off to France for her protection when she was a little girl. Her son was also a victim, as Mary spent most of his life imprisoned, and his father, Lord Darnley, was murdered when he was a baby.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": She used the French spelling of her name, "Marie Stuart."

Works associated with Mary of Scotland:



  • Mary is the subject of an essay in Alternate History in G. K. Chesterton's "If Don John of Austria Had Married Mary, Queen of Scots."
  • Kathyrn Lasky is the author of a book in Scholastic Books' juvenileThe Royal Diaries series, Mary Queen of Scots: Queen Without A Country, France, 1553 (1999), set during her years in France.
  • Mary appears in a vision in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's short story, "The Silver Mirror".
  • Appears as a character in the Lymond Chronicles.
  • Appears as the "Reine Dauphine" in La Princesse de Clèves.

Live Action TV

  • A Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch entitled 'The Death of Mary, Queen of Scots', in which two pepperpots listen to a radio show which mainly consists of Mary and her would-be murderer scuffling.

 Murderer: I think she's dead.

Mary: No, I'm not.

[scuffling resumes]

  • Part 1 of the mini-series Gunpowder, Treason and Plot shows her rise and fall. She is executed at the beginning of part 2.



 Don't you know you're never going to get to France.

Mary, Queen of Chance, will they find you?

Never going to get to France.

Could a new romance ever bind you?



  • Around the middle Baroque era, Mary's story seemed to grip many Italian composers who depicted her as a tragic martyr--notably, Giacomo Carissimi, who wrote the cantata Lamento della Regina Maria Stuarda (Ferma Lascia Ch'Io Parli).
  • Giuseppe Verdi's opera, Maria Stuarda.
  • Friedrich Schiller's play Maria Stuart.
  • Liz Lochead's play Mary Queen Of Scots Got Her Heid Chopped Off. (The title comes from a Scottish playground rhyme.)
  • She meets Elizabeth I in the Elizabeth mini-series, starring Helen Mirren. She has a French accent.
  • She was in Elizabeth: The Golden Age. She had a Scottish accent.