||Mary I (Stewart) Stuart was a member of aristocracy in the British Isles.|
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|Queen of Scots
14 December 1542 - 24 July 1567
Mary Stuart was born 8 Dec 1542, at Linlithgow Palace, West Lothian, Scotland. She was the daughter of James V of Scotland and Mary of Guise. She had two older brothers who died in infancy. Mary’s father died when she was only six days old, making her queen of Scotland. Her mother acted as regent on Mary's behalf. Mary, Queen of Scots was queen regent of Scotland from 14 Dec 1542 to 24 Jul 1567. She was also queen consort of France from 10 July 1559 to 5 December 1560.
At the age of 5, Mary was sent to France, where she grew up in the luxurious French court. Mary's mother was French, and the Scots had a longstanding alliance with France, so Mary was betrothed to the four-year-old French heir.
Mary was married three times, with the last union eventually leading to her downfall.
Francis II, King of France
On 24 Apr 1558 Mary I, Queen of Scots married Dauphin Francois (later to become Francois II of France) at Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France. Francis was the eldest son of French King Henry II and Catherine de Medicis. In 1559, Mary's husband was crowned Francis II, making Mary both the queen of Scotland and France's queen consort. Francis died from an ear infection the year after he ascended to the throne, leaving Mary a widow at age 18.
Following Francis’s death, Mary returned to Scotland from France in 1561. By that time, John Knox's influence had changed Scotland's official religion from Catholicism to Protestantism.
As a Roman Catholic raised in France, Mary found herself an outsider. However, with help from her illegitimate half-brother, James, Earl of Moray, Mary managed to rule while creating an atmosphere of religious tolerance.
Henry Stewart, Earl of Darnley
In 1565 Mary married her second husband, her cousin, Henry Stuart Lord Darnley, a grandson of Margaret Tudor. Mary uniting with a Tudor infuriated Elizabeth Tudor. Her marriage to Darnley also turned Mary's half-brother against her. Darnley’s ruthless ambition caused problems. In 1566 Darnley and a group of Protestant nobles viciously murdered David Rizzio, Mary's Italian secretary, stabbing him 56 times as a pregnant Mary looked on. Though she gave birth to their son a few months later, she no longer wished to be married to Darnley. When Darnley was mysteriously killed following an explosion at Kirk o' Field, outside Edinburgh, in February 1567, foul play was suspected. Mary's involvement is unclear.
James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell
In May 1567 Mary married her third husband, James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, the main suspect in her previous husband Darnley’s murder. Over the years, Bothwell had become a close confidant of Mary and was said to exert great influence over her. He also had his own ambitions to become king, and he had abducted Mary and held her captive in Dunbar Castle. Mary’s marriage with Bothwell, just three months after Darnley’s murder, made the Scottish nobility rise against her. Bothwell went into exile, where he was arrested and held captive until his death. In July 1567, Mary was forced to abdicate the throne in Scotland in favour of her infant son. She was imprisoned in Lochleven Castle.
On 19 Jun 1566, Mary gave birth to James Charles Stuart, the future James VI of Scotland and James I of England. James was Mary’s only child, conceived with her second husband, Henry Stewart.
As the great-granddaughter of King Henry VII, Mary had a strong claim to the English throne. Her French father-in-law, Henry II, made this claim on her behalf. But Mary never became the queen of England.
In November 1558, Henry VIII's daughter, Elizabeth Tudor, became Queen Elizabeth I of England following the death of her sister, Mary Tudor. Many Roman Catholics did not recognize the validity of Henry VIII's marriage to Elizabeth's mother, Anne Boleyn, and they considered Elizabeth's rule to be illegitimate.
In 1568, Mary escaped from Lochleven Castle, where she was imprisoned by the Scottish nobility for her unseemly marriage with Bothwell. She raised an army but was soon defeated. She fled to England, where she sought Elizabeth's protection. Instead of helping her cousin, the queen imprisoned Mary. Mary's captivity would last for the next 18 years.
English Catholics plotted to get Mary, a Catholic herself, onto the throne by assassinating Elizabeth. Mary was involved in several plots to raise the Catholic North of England in rebellion. Mary corresponded with one such plotter, Anthony Babington. When Elizabeth's spymaster uncovered the letters in 1586, Mary was brought to trial. She was found guilty of treason and condemned to death by a court of 40 noblemen.
After Elizabeth signed her cousin's death warrant for treason, Mary was executed 8 Feb 1587 in Fotheringhay Castle, Northamptonshire. She was 44 years old. Elizabeth had Mary buried at Peterborough Cathedral. After Mary's son became King James I of England, he moved his mother's body to Westminster Abbey in 1612, only thirty feet from the grave of her cousin Elizabeth I.
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