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Monday, September 3, 2012

Chasing Mary, Queen of Scots through Scotland

Mary, Queen of Scots/ and Wikimedia Commons
She (1542-1587) gave birth to her only child, the future king of Scotland (James VI, 1566-1625) and the king of England (James I) in what are now public rooms at Edinburgh Castle. 
Mary, Queen of Scots gave birth to James VI of Scotland and James I of England at Edinburgh Castle/Patricia Leslie

About a year after James's birth, rebels forced Mary, Queen of Scots to relinquish her crown to her toddler son who was taken from her, and she never saw him again.  (He was later criticized for not doing much to save his mum, a docent/guide somewhere in Scotland, I think at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, told me.) 

How did Mary’s son become King of Scotland and the King of England?  Easy.  There was nobody left, but please read on.

To describe briefly, Mary was married three times: 
1.  Francis, the Dauphin of France, who died two year after their marriage (1558-1560)
2.  Lord Darnley, her first cousin and King James’s father (?), married from 1565-1567 until Darnley was found strangled “in the garden” after an explosion, likely caused by a group which included her third husband
3.  James Hepburn, the Fourth Earl of Bothwell, whom she married May 15, 1567 just three months after Darnley's murder on February 9-10, 1567 (and 12 days after the Earl's divorce) and a month after the Earl was acquitted on April 12, 1567 of the Darnley murder charge.

Also, Husband #2, Lord Darnley, was most likely involved in the murder of Mary’s private secretary, David Rizzio (rumored to be James’s father) at the Palace of Holyroodhouse where Rizzio was dragged from audience with Mary and stabbed to death in rooms which are open to visitors,  but, please, no photographs.  (And whatever happens, get to the palace before 4:30 p.m., not 5 p.m., I don’t care what the signs say because one hour is insufficient time to see the palace and besides (as what happened to me, truly) the staff will push you through the doors, slamming them in your wake, and letting it generally be known that you are not welcome, so get out, and be done with you. We've got your admission fee already; who cares what you want to see? The Scottish really are not half as nice as the Irish.  Where was I?)

The Murder of David Rizzio by John Opie (1761-1807)/Guildhall Art Gallery and Wikimedia Commons

Mary's bedchambers at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The doorway on the left opens to a small room where Mary met with David Rizzio before he was dragged and stabbed 56 times.  All these rooms are open to the public when the Queen is not in residence/Palace of Holyroodhouse
The Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh, the Queen's official residence when she is in Scotland and open to the public when she is not. Palace guides said the Queen visits Edinburgh every year and spends about four to five days at Holyroodhouse, the palace where Mary married Lord Darnley and the likely site of her marriage to the Earl of Bothwell, too, and the scene of the murder of David Rizzio, Mary's private secretary/Patricia Leslie
The interior courtyard at Palace of Holyroodhouse where Queen Elizabeth's granddaughter and Olympic medalist, Zara Phillips, and Mike Tindall had their wedding reception in 2011.  A guide told me the grass came from seeds from Canada and was covered up for three weeks preceding the reception/Patricia Leslie
You used to think modern royalty was full of innuendo and intrigue.   Folks:  Where there are people, can love, sex, and rock and roll be far behind?  (Speaking of…Prince Wild Harry in Las Vegas...)

But back to Mary.

The rebels had had enough of Mary, her shenanigans, the murders, the husbands, and carried her off to prison at the Loch Leven Castle beginning about a month after her marriage to Bothwell. 

The island on Loch Leven and the castle where Mary, Queen of Scots was first imprisoned/Patricia Leslie 

Mary escaped the next year and fled to England in hopes that her dear cousin, Queen Elizabeth (whom she never met and who was also her son’s godmother) would help her regain the Scottish throne.  Elizabeth's parents were King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.

Queen Elizabeth I/Unknown artist, c. 1575, National Portrait Gallery, London and Wikimedia Commons

Elizabeth believed Mary had designs of her own on Elizabeth’s throne (which most sources confirm) and kept her locked up in various places for 19 years.

This small embroidered velvet and silver purse is believed to have belonged to Mary, Queen of Scots, and is on display at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, Scotland/Patricia Leslie
This necklace was given by Mary, Queen of Scots to her attendant, Mary Seton, while Mary was imprisoned.  Earrings (not shown) match the necklace.  From the Queen's Gallery at Palace of Holyroodhouse/Patricia Leslie

On February 8, 1587 Mary was beheaded.  Elizabeth was shocked!  Shocked, I tell you, when she received the news that her cousin had lost her head. (An eyewitness wrote that Mary's "lips stirred up and down a quarter of an hour after her head was cut off.")

Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots by Robert Herdman in 1867/Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, bequeathed by Adam Teacher, 1898

The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, February 8, 1587/Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum,

Sixteen years later Cousin Elizabeth got her comeuppance (so to speak) for without heirs, who was going to succeed the Queen? None other than Mary’s son, James VI of Scotland who was crowned King of England July 25, 1603 after Elizabeth died on March 24,1603. 

In 1612 James had his mother's body exhumed from her grave in Peterborough Cathedral and placed under an elaborate marble sculpture at Westminster Abbey in London in the Henry VII chapel across the aisle from…dear Cousin Elizabeth.  Henry VII was the great-grandfather of Mary and the grandfather of Elizabeth.

The tomb of Mary, Queen of Scots at Westminster Abbey, London/Bernard Gagnon and Wikimedia Commons
Canongate Kirk where Queen Elizabeth II's granddaughter, Zara Phillips, and Mike Tindall were married in 2011, along the Royal Mile and close to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.  It is believed that David Rizzio is buried here.  On the right is a statue of poet Robert Fergusson./Patricia Leslie

Canongate Kirk (church)/Patricia Leslie
A search for the grave of Adam Smith (1723-1790), author of The Wealth of Nations, led me to Canongate Kirk/Patricia Leslie



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