The Beginning of the End

May 15 was the beginning of the end for a pair of 16th century queens. First, in 1536, Anne Boleyn was brought to trial on (almost certainly) bogus charges of adultery and incest and found guilty. Her brother, George Boleyn, who was accused of having a sexual relationship with her, was tried separately the same day and also found guilty. The trials came a day … Continue reading The Beginning of the End

A Brief But Happy Marriage

On April 24, 1558, Mary, Queen of Scots married Francois, Dauphin of France in a glittering ceremony that put her on the road to a brief reign as Queen of France. Like most noble marriages of the time, this one was arranged for political reasons. The death of Mary’s father within just a few days of her birth left Scotland vulnerable, a situation Henry VIII … Continue reading A Brief But Happy Marriage

The Old Pretender

On March 23, 1708, James, the only son of the deposed James II, attempted to invade Scotland in his first try at taking back the British throne. He was unsuccessful—the fleet of Admiral Sir George Byng drove him back at the Firth of Forth. James, who became known as “the Old Pretender” was a controversial figure from birth. Soon after he was born on June … Continue reading The Old Pretender

Mary, Queen of Scots

Oh, Mary. Mary, Mary, Mary. As I said in a previous blog, she wasn’t a bad person, she was just woefully unsuited for her job. Poor woman. She probably would have made a fine royal consort (and she did, in fact, when she was married to the French king), but she just didn’t have the firm hand needed to rule a country like Scotland. Or any country, really. So, she crashed and burned and, over the years, got romanticized all over the place. There have been plenty of movies made about her, but only one has Vanessa Redgrave in it: Mary, Queen of Scots. There’s talk of a remake with Scarlett Johansson, which I really hope won’t happen, because I like this one the way it is. Joining Vanessa in an impressive cast are Ian Holm, Patrick McGoohan, Timothy Dalton, and, of course, Glenda Jackson as Elizabeth I. It didn’t get great reviews, but it got nominated for a lot of awards because, as we know, corsets = Oscars.

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Your (Is)land is My (Is)land

Five hundred thirty-nine days ago today, Scotland took possession of the islands of Orkney and Shetland, which were given by the king of Denmark in order to raise money for a dowry for his daughter, Margaret, who was engaged to the Scottish king, James III. Like most royal marriages of the time, this was arranged. In this case, the arranging was done by the King … Continue reading Your (Is)land is My (Is)land