Off You Go!

After a fairly disastrous reign, Mary, Queen of Scots abdicated her throne on July 24, 1567 in favor of her infant son, James.

Like her son, Mary came to her throne young—she was only six days old when her father died. She was raised mostly in France, where she was engaged and later married to the dauphin, while her mother, the Frenchwoman Marie de Guise, ruled Scotland. After both Marie and the dauphin died, Mary returned home, expecting to be greeted with open arms. The querulous Scottish nobles, however, weren’t keen on their pretty, rather frivolous queen, who seemed more French than Scottish. Mary tried hard, but ruling a country just wasn’t her strong suit, and Scotland was a difficult country to rule. It was especially difficult during that period, as many Scots were converting to Protestantism. Mary was a devout Catholic.

Her first massive misstep was marrying Henry, Lord Darnley, a feckless, worthless English nobleman. By the time their son, James, was born in June 1566, Mary’s affections had moved on from Darnley to the Earl of Bothwell. Darnley was murdered in February 1567, and many pointed the finger at Bothwell as the assassin. In April of that year, he abducted Mary (possibly with her consent) and took her to Dunbar Castle, where he may have raped her. They returned to Edinburgh together in early May and were married on May 15, just 12 days after Bothwell divorced his first wife.

Bothwell was not popular with his fellow nobles. His outspokenness earned him many enemies, and soon the nobles raised an army against the queen and her husband. Mary and Bothwell met them at Carberry Hill on June 15, and Mary agreed to go with the lords as long as they let Bothwell go. The lords imprisoned Mary in Loch Leven Castle, where she miscarried twins sometime between July 18 and 24. On the 24, she lost her throne, too.

Less than a year later, Mary managed to escape and fled south to England, hoping her cousin Elizabeth would aid a fellow queen in resecuring her throne. We all know how that turned out.

One thought on “Off You Go!

  1. Very interesting. I don’t know a lot about Mary of Scots, until she escaped to England. I’m glad for your blog. It’s very informative and right up my alley!

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