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Mary Queen of Scots is one of the most fascinating and controversial monarchs of the 16th century who claimed the crowns of four nations in her lifetime.
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Mary Queen of Scots was one of the most fascinating and controversial monarchs of 16th century Europe. Throughout her life she claimed the crowns of four nations: Scotland, France, England and Ireland. Mary placed herself under the protection of Queen Elizabeth I who saw her as a threat to the throne and had her arrested. She spent the remainder of her life in prison and was executed at age 44.
Queen of Scotland (1542-87) and queen consort of France (1559-60), born on December 8, 1542 in Linlithgow Palace, West Lothian, Scotland, UK, the daughter of King James V of Scotland by his second wife, Mary of Guise. Queen of Scotland at a week old, her betrothal to Prince Edward of England was annulled by the Scottish parliament, precipitating war with England. After the Scots' defeat at Pinkie (1547), she was sent to the French court and married Francis, Dauphin of France (1558), who was crowned Francis II in 1559, but Mary was widowed at 18 (1560) and returned to Scotland (1561).
In 1565, ambitious for the English throne, she married her cousin, Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, a grandson of Margaret Tudor, but became disgusted by his debauchery, and was soon alienated from him. The vicious murder of Rizzio, her Italian secretary, by Darnley and a group of Protestant nobles in her presence (1566) confirmed her insecurity. The birth of a son, the future James VI, failed to bring a reconciliation. While ill with smallpox, Darnley was mysteriously killed in an explosion at Kirk o' Field (1567); the chief suspect was the Earl of Bothwell, who underwent a mock trial and was acquitted. Mary's involvement is unclear, but she consented to marry James Hepburn of Bothwell, a divorcé with whom she had become infatuated. The Protestant nobles under Morton rose against her; she surrendered at Carberry Hill, was imprisoned at Loch Leven, and compelled to abdicate in favor of her son James VI. After escaping, she raised an army, but was defeated again by the confederate lords at Langside (1568). Placing herself under the protection of Queen Elizabeth, she found herself instead a prisoner for life.
Her presence in England gave rise to countless plots to depose Elizabeth and restore Catholicism. Finally, after the Babington conspiracy (1586) she was brought to trial for treason, and executed in Fotheringay Castle, Northamptonshire, on February 7, 1587.
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