It was during the time of the Reformation. Great Britain was Protestant, France was Catholic, and Scotland was torn between
the two of them. Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots was born into a time full of religious turmoil. Early in her life she was a pawn
in the battle between Protestantism and Catholicism. As time past she struggled for her independence and self-determination.
Nearing the end of her life she was once again at the mercy of relatives and ultimately put to death by one of them. She is
one of Scotland's most intriguing and controversial women in history.
Mary Stuart, queen of Scots was born on 8 December 1542 at Linlithgow Palace in Scotland. Her mother was Mary of Guise,
a member of the powerful French family Guise. Her father was James V of Scotland, the son Margaret Tudor and the nephew of
England's King Henry VIII. James V died shortly after hearing his wife had given birth to a bony daughter, rather than a son
that could continue the dynasty. This made Mary the Queen of Scotland at the age of six days old.
Mary was sent to France when she was only six years old to marry Francis II, the Dauphin, in return for Frances's aid in
helping the Scottish rid themselves of the English. Mary stayed in France for the next twelve years. During this time she
developed into a very beautiful and sexy woman who loved to dance, ride horses, and gossip. She was tall and had thick re
hair. Mary was happy in the French court where she was King Henry II and his mistress's favorite. This however made her an
enemy of Catherine de'Medici, the King's wife.
Francis II loved Mary so much he allowed her to rule him as well as France after he became King in 1558. However, Mary
was not destined to rule France. In 1560, Francis II died and Mary was sent back to Scotland by her mother-in-law, Catherine
Mary returned to Scotland to find it under the influence of the Protestant, John Knox. Though she was the Queen of Scotland,
her position as the dominant figure there was not as obvious being that she was Catholic. In Scotland Mary met, fell in love
with, and married Henry, Lord Darnley. She described him as "the lustiest and best-proportioned lang man" that she had ever
met. They married in 1564 and soon afterwards Henry proved that his beauty was the limit of his positive characteristics.
He was arrogant, politically incompetent, and fond of frequenting the taverns. Mary excluded him from all court life and their
relationship was one of only marriage.
Mary soon began to grow fond of the companionship of her secretary, close friend, and Italian musician David Rizzio. Lord
Darnley became jealous of him and had him assassinated right before Mary's eyes. Shortly after this horrific act in 1566,
Mary gave birth to a son, James VI of Scotland, later the I of England. Mary would never forgive Lord Darnley for having Rizzio
In 1567, Mary after a failed attempt to reconcile with Lord Darnley became attracted to one of her firm supporters, the
Earl of Bothwell. The Earl of Bothwell, with the help of others, carried out a plan that caused an explosion at the Kirk of
Field, south of Edinburgh's Royal Mile that killed Lord Darnley. He was discovered as the assassin, but with the help of his
political connections was acquitted soon after. Mary's actual participation in the planning of the assassination is controversial.
It is not known to what degree she was involved or if she even was involved. Soon after the acquittal of the accusations,
the Earl of Bothwell and Mary got married. Scotland was shocked and outraged. Mary ant he Earl were besieged in Borthwick
Castle while on honeymoon. The marriage between Mary and the Earl of Bothwell is also controversial. There are some scholars
that believe that Mary was forced into the marriage and repeatedly raped, not a willing and wanting member of the marriage.
Both Mary and the Earl of Bothwell escaped Borthwick Castle safely and raised an army of supporters. They fought a battle
against the opposition at Carberry Hill. Mary was defeated and forced to abdicate on her imprisonment in Loch Leven Castle.
Mary escaped prison one year later with help from her Catholic supporters. She was defeated again by the Protestant forces,
this time at Langside near Glasgow. She tried to flee to France, but was blown ashore in England. There she tried to gain
the protection of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I.
Mary was imprisoned until she could clear herself of the accusations of Lord Darnley's murder. She remained in prison for
some time. After trying to escape she was put under close guard and constant watch. During her years in prison, Mary continually
planned her liberation. In early 1587, Catholic supporters of Mary attempted to assassinate Elizabeth I so Mary could take
her rightful seat at the throne and institute Catholicism was again. Mary's association with the plot was the last straw,
Elizabeth I signed Mary's warrant for execution. Mary had been in prison for nineteen years before she was executed on the
morning of 8 February 1587. She was beheaded at Fotheringay and later buried at Westminster Abbey by her son, James VI of
Scotland and the I of England.
Whether Mary Stuart was the champion of women's rights in the 16th Century as her admirers claim, or the conspiring and
murderous woman that her critics claim, she was one of the most interesting women of her time. Her life possessed all the
qualities of a tragic hero. She was beautiful and had the world in the palm of her hand, yet it was not meant to be. She would
fall from her glorious status due to circumstances that may or may not have been out of her control.