Mary Stuart, queen of Scots, born in the palace of Linlithgow in December, 1542, beheaded at Fotheringay castle, Northamptonshire, England, Feb. 8, 1587. The precise date of her birth is unknown, for though it is commonly stated Dec. 8, there seems reason to believe that the event must have occurred on the 11th or 12th of that month; and it was probably antedated on account of the 8th being one of the four great festivals of the Catholic church in honor of the Virgin. She was the daughter of James V., seventh king of the Stuart line, and of Mary of Lorraine, daughter of Claude, duke of Guise, the founder of that family which had so conspicuous a part in the politics of France in the 16th century. Her birth took place at one of the dreariest periods of Scottish history, her father dying when she was but a few days old (Dec. 13), of mortification consequent on the defeats which the Scotch had voluntarily met with from the English at Fala Muirand Solway Moss, the nobles being opposed to his policy. The earl of Arran, head of tin- house of Hamilton, and heir presumptive to the throne, was made regent by the parliament.
Mary was crowned Sept. 9, 1543. The first two years of her life were spent at Linlithgow, and she was then removed to Stir-mg. Henry VIII. of England demanded her hand for his son, the prince of Wales, afterward Edward VI. At first he was successful, and a treaty was made, July 1 1543 providing that Mary should be sent to England when she should have attained the age of 10 years, and that she should marry Edward as soon thereafter as possible. In five months this treaty was broken, the French and Catholic party triumphing over the English and Protestant party. An alliance was made with France, Dec. 15, and Henry declared war against Scotland, which his troops invaded. After his death, the protector Somerset continued his policy, and defeated the Scotch in the battle of Pinkie, Sept, 10, 1547. Meantime the queen had lived at Stirling castle, with her governors, Lords Erskine and Livingston; but after the battle of Pinkie she was taken to the monastery of Inchmahome, on an island in Lake Menteith. Her mother and the regent Arran betrothed her to the dauphin of France, son of Henry II., and she sailed to that country from Dumbarton in July, 1548, and arrived at Brest Aug. 14. She was accompanied by four young ladies, Mary Livingston, Mary Fleming, Mary Beaton, and Mary Seaton, who were called "the four Marys." She was warmly received by Henry II., who treated her as a daughter.
The French court was brilliant, learned, and licentious. Mary's Latin master was George Buchanan, one of the first scholars of the 16th century; and Ron-sard taught her poetry. At 13 she pronounced a Latin oration which was much applauded. In 1551 her hand was formally demanded of Henry II. for Edward VI., but she herself refused to listen to the demand. The widespread dominion and power of the Spanish branch of the house of Austria having increased the fear of the house of Valois, Henry II. determined to complete his alliance with Scotland, and the dauphin Francis and Mary were married, April 24, 1558. The open conditions of the marriage were honorable to Scotland; but there were two secret acts of grave moment. By the first Mary gave Scotland to the sovereigns of France, in reward for the services which Henry II. and his predecessors had rendered that country against the English; and by the second she provided against the non-execution of the first. She also conveyed to Henry any claims that might accrue to her upon England and Ireland. Henry was to have the usufruct of Scotland until he should have repaid himself for what he had expended in her defence.
These debts had never been accepted by Scotland. Mary had secretly protested in advance against the engagements she had entered into with her own subjects, and declared her wish to annex Scotland to France. The Scotch bestowed the crown matrimonial on Francis, and it was provided that all acts should be published in the name of Francis and Mary, king and queen of Scotland, dauphin and dauphiness of Vienne. When Mary I. of England died, November, 1558, Henry II. caused the dauphin to quarter the arms of England with those of Scotland, as he affected to believe that Mary Stuart was legitimate heir to the English crown, as descended from Margaret Tudor, eldest daughter of Henry VII., Elizabeth, daughter of Henry VIII. by Anne Boleyn, having been declared illegitimate. This act was the cause of most of the trouble that afterward befell the Scottish queen. Henry II. dying July 10, 1559, Mary was queen of France from that date till the death of her husband, Francis II., Dec. 5, 1560. During his short reign the Guises, who led the Catholic party, ruled the king through their influence over his wife, their kinswoman.
Suitors for her hand soon appeared - the kings of Sweden and Denmark, and Philip II. of Spain, who wished her to wed his son and heir Don Carlos. She was coldly treated in France, where Catharine de' Medici, never her friend, had control of the government; and she resolved to return to Scotland. In that country the French Catholic party had been overthrown and the English Protestant party had triumphed, aided by Elizabeth's forces. By the treaty of Edinburgh, July 5 and 6,1500, it was provided, among other things, that the French should leave Scotland, and that the Scotch sovereigns should cease to bear the arms and title of the sovereigns of England. Mary had eluded the ratification of this treaty. When she re-solved to return to Scotland, she applied to Elizabeth for a safe-conduct through England, but it was refused, unless she would ratify the treaty of Edinburgh. Mary then embarked at Calais, Aug. 14, 1561, and arrived at Leith on the 19th, escaping the English cruisers. She left France with bitter regrets, and was herself much regretted there. Poets expressed the common feeling, and her own chanson bidding adieu to the country is universally known. On her arrival in Scotland, she found the power in the hands of the Protestants, and submitted to what it was impossible to resist.
Her chief ministers were her natural brother, the lord James Stuart, and Maitland of Lethington, who were among the ablest statesmen of the century. She expressed herself favorable to toleration, and asked it for herself, but obtained it with difficulty. Her position was one of great embarrassment. Sincerely Catholic, she was the sovereign of a people who had accepted the reformation, and who had displayed the utmost enmity to the old faith. Her joyous modes of life were regarded with abhorrence by most of her subjects, and prepared them to believe the worst that could be alleged against her. Still her reign for some time was prosperous. Her brother, who was at that time attached to her, counselled her wisely and acted vigorously. The rebellious Gordons were conquered. A good understanding with Elizabeth was effected, and preparations for a meeting of the two queens were partially made. Circumstances made it advisable that Mary should marry. Elizabeth wished her to marry the earl of Arran, but to this Mary would not consent. She desired to become the wife of Don Carlos of Spain, and refused the dukes of .Nemours and Ferrara; but the Spanish marriage met with so much opposition, both at home and abroad, that she had to abandon all idea of it.
She was urged to accept the band of the archduke Charles, third son of Ferdinand I. (1563), but the proposition found no favor with her. Elizabeth then (1564) suggested Lord Robert Dudley, better known as the earl of Leicester, which Mary regarded as an insult. Mary finally determined to marry the lord Henry Darnley, son of the earl of Lennox. Darnley was nearly related to both queens, as his mother, the countess of Lennox, was the lady Margaret Douglas, daughter of the earl of Angus and of Margaret Tudor, widow of James IV. of Scotland. He was handsome and accomplished, but was fickle and his talents were small. The Catholics favored the match, and the Protestants opposed it; and so powerful were the latter that, headed by the queen's brother, who had been created earl of Murray, and Lethington, they would have triumphed and Mary would have married Leicester, could Elizabeth have been prevailed upon to recognize her as her heir. The Scotch statesmen, who were supported by some of the English statesmen, exerted themselves to have this recognition made; but Elizabeth desired that Mary should first accept Leicester. This caused Mary to persevere in her design, which, however, met with much opposition from .Murray and others.
Murray retired from the court, nor could Mary induce him to return to her service, or to consent to her marriage with Darnley. Elizabeth continued her opposition to the marriage, and sent to propose to Mary to choose either Leicester, the duke of Norfolk, or the earl of Arundel. But neither her opposition, nor the extreme measures of the church of Scotland, nor the lawless proceedings of Murray and others, could now avail to stop the marriage. Darnley had been created lord of Ardmanach and earl of Ross, and on July 20, 1565, he was made duke of Albany; and nine days later the marriage took place. On the previous day Mary had conferred on him the title of king. The alliance must have been popular in Scotland, or Mary could not have triumphed in opposition to so many powerful influences; but it caused dismay in England. Murray headed a rebellion, relying on English assistance; but Mary's energetic proceedings led to his prompt defeat, and the assertion of the royal authority. Unfortunately, her success led Mary to entertain the idea of overthrowing Protestantism, whereas she had succeeded only because her subjects had believed her to be upholding the existing system against the designs of a few ambitious and selfish nobles.
She put herself in communication with the courts of France and Spain, and with the pope. From Spain and Rome she received some money, but Philip II. could afford her no military assistance, though he intimated that he might furnish it at a future period. Mary now assumed a high tone toward Elizabeth; and as she was supported by the French and Spanish ambassadors, the English queen had to abate her pretensions. Murray was desirous of pardon, and appears to have been sincerely anxious to return to his allegiance; but Mary was resolved on his destruction, and on that of most of his associates. She was now much under the influence of David Rizzio, one of those clever Italian adventurers who then swarmed over Europe, and who filled every kind of employment in all countries, from that of the statesman to that of the spy. The queen's love for Darnley was of brief endurance, his worthlessness having soon become apparent. They quarrelled, and Darnley affected to believe he had been dishonored by Rizzio. Darnley wished for the crown matrimonial, meaning an equal share in the royal authority, which Mary had promised him in the days of their attachment.
This promise she now refused to keep, and Darnley attributed her decision to Rizzio. She had also joined the league of the Catholic sovereigns of the continent to exterminate Protestantism. Darnley entered into a vast conspiracy, of which the murder of Rizzio was a mere item, but the only one that was successfully executed. His chief abettors were Lord Ruthven, the earl of Morton, chancellor of Scotland, the earl of Lennox, Darnley's father, Lethington, Lord Lindesay, and John Knox. The conspiracy was known to Elizabeth and her ministers. On the evening of March 9, 1506, several of the conspirators entered the room where Mary was supping, with Rizzio and others, in Holy-rood palace, and dragged the Italian to the entrance of the presence chamber, on the stairs of which he was slain, receiving 56 wounds. Darnley was one of the most active of those who entered the queen's cabinet; he tore Rizzio from the hold he had on the queen's garments, and held her while his associates despatched the Italian. Mary was for a time the prisoner of the conspirators, but by deceiving Darnley she effected her escape.
Murray returned, and while she was reconciled to him and his immediate friends, she pursued the murderers of Rizzio with implacable resent-in.nt. Seventy of them, headed by Morton, fled to England; Lennox was banished from the court, and Lethington deprived of his office. She no longer disguised her hatred of Darnley On June 19 she gave birth to her only child, afterward James VI. of Scotland and James I. of England. At this time her connection with the earl of Both well commenced. He was powerful, bold, unscrupulous, and accomplished, and jt, was natural that Mary should wish to secure his services; but her enemies charge that she entertained a criminal passion for him. Be that as it may, she showed him high favor, while she treated her husband more contemptuously than ever. A plan for the destruction of Darnley was formed by Lethington, who wished to gratify the queen by ridding her of her husband, either by divorce or by murder, and to effect the restoration of Morton and his associates. Bothwell joined the conspiracy, as did other great nobles. Murray did not oppose it. It is charged that it was communicated to the queen, and that she offered no serious opposition to it. A bond to cut off the king, and to protect each other, was drawn up and signed by the conspirators.
Morton, on his return, was ready to join them if he could have the queen's written warrant, which Bothwell sought to obtain, but unsuccessfully. Darnley was then ill of the smallpox at Glasgow. There he was visited by Mary, and a reconciliation was apparently effected. On his recovering sufficiently to travel he was removed to the provost's house at Kirk of Field, near Edinburgh, where Mary attended him with much apparent kindness, passing several nights under his roof. This house was blown up by gunpowder on the night of Feb. 9, 1567, while the queen was attending a masquerade at Holy-rood palace. Of Bothwell's guilt of this murder there is no doubt whatever, but Mary's part in it is not so clear; and the main point in that "Marian controversy" which has continued to the present time turns upon the question of her participation in Bothwell's conspiracy. The impression at Edinburgh was unfavorable to her, and did not lack expression; and her indifference, and her refraining from any exertion to punish those who were loudly accused by the general voice, deepened the belief in her guilt. Instead of complying with Lennox's demand for the arrest of Both-well, she heaped favors upon the murderer.
Public opinion, as pronounced both at home and abroad, compelled her to order that Both-well should be tried; but his trial was a mockery, the government acting scandalously in his behalf, and he was acquitted. New and signal marks of favor were bestowed upon him, and the whole power of the government was in his hands. He sought to marry the queen, and was divorced from his wife. At a tavern supper, to which he invited many of the nobles and others, he procured, partly by intimidation and partly by falsehood, their signatures to a bond declaring him innocent, and recommending the queen to marry him. On April 24, while returning from Stirling to Edinburgh, she was seized by Bothwell, and conducted to his castle of Dunbar. She was allowed to return to Edinburgh on May 3, when Bothwell's divorce was completed. Her intention to marry him was then announced, He was made duke of Orkney, and on May 15 they were married. This marriage created universal disgust. A conspiracy which had been formed against Bothwell, composed of the chief nobles, now assumed a serious magnitude, and hostilities broke out early in June. The confederates seized Edinburgh, and when the two armies met on Carberry hill, June 15, Mary was deserted by most of her troops, and was compelled to surrender.
Bothwell fled, and never returned. The queen was committed to Lochleven castle, where on July 24 she signed an act of abdication in favor of her son, and other acts arranging the government, of which Murray was to be the head as regent. These acts were extorted from her, and depended for their validity entirely upon the power of the confederates to maintain their position. On Murray's return from France, he visited Mary, and by working on her fears he had the art to make her request him to accept the regency. Parliament passed an act virtually dethroning the queen, and charging her with being privy to Darnley's murder. On May 2, 1568, she made her escape from Lochleven, and rallied a powerful force to her support, which was defeated at Langside, May 13, by Murray. Mary fled to England, which she entered May 16. There was no occasion for this course, which was the most unwise she could have adopted. At first she was treated with some consideration by Elizabeth, but the latter assumed the part of judge between Mary and her opponents, and affected to decide on her guilt or innocence of the charges preferred against her. The examinations were unfairly conducted, and injured Mary's reputation.
During the early years of her residence in England she was variously treated, and it was not till 1573, when her party in Scotland was finalty overthrown, that she lost ail hope of deliverance from that quarter. She was concerned in various attempts against Elizabeth's government, and sought to marry the duke of Norfolk. She intrigued with the king of Spain, and with other foreigners of eminence, for her liberation. The northern rebellion, headed by the dukes of Northumberland and Westmoreland, which was the last open effort made by the Catholics to restore the old faith, she discouraged. At one time, in 1571, Elizabeth was on the point of restoring her; but in 1572 she engaged in a treaty with the Scotch government for the surrender of Mary, who was to have been tried, condemned, and put to death. This plan failed through the death of the regent Mar, as it had previously failed through the deaths of the regents Murray and Lennox. Her hand was sought by Leicester, by Sir George Carey, a near relative of Elizabeth, and by Don John of Austria. She was confined in various places, her chief custodian being the earl of Shrewsbury. In most cases her treatment was outrageous, and shows the extent of Elizabeth's personal hatred of the woman she had wronged, and that she desired to effect her destruction.
Mary was both feared and hated by the reformers, who demanded her death through the ministers of Elizabeth and through parliament. She was believed to be the principal person in all the numerous conspiracies against Elizabeth, though with most of them she could have had no connection. An "association" was formed, directed not only against those who should do violence to Elizabeth, but also against those for whose benefit the crime should be committed. Parliament sanctioned this association in 1585. Babington's conspiracy was formed in 1586, one of the objects of whicli was to liberate Mary, who had some correspondence with Babington, in which no encouragement, however, was given to his designs against Elizabeth. This conspiracy early became known to Elizabeth's ministers, who nursed it, until even the queen became alarmed, and compelled the arrest of the assassins. It was then resolved to proceed against Mary, who had been removed to Fotheringay castle, Sept. 25, 1586. A commission, composed of 46 persons, was appointed to try her. At its head was the chancellor, Bromley, and the treasurer, Burleigh, was one of its members. The other members were all persons of eminence, either state officers, or peers, or lawyers.
This commission, of which 11 members refused to act, met at Fotheringay castle on Oct. 11, 1586, and, after overcoming Mary's original determination not to acknowledge its jurisdiction, proceeded with the trial on the 14th. She defended herself with skill and success against the grea,t array of talent on the other side, and the commissioners durst not come to a decision in her presence. They adjourned to Westminster, after sitting two days, and on Oct. 25 they unanimously declared her guilty. It was not until Nov. 19 that Mary was informed of their decision, and she heard it with calmness. Efforts to save her life were made by the governments of France and Scotland. The publication of the sentence of death, Dec. 4, in London, was received with extravagant demonstrations of joy. Parliament urged execution. Elizabeth, however, seemed reluctant to proceed to extremities, and for six weeks the warrant for her execution remained unsigned in the hands of Davison; nor is it certain that she ever signed it.
A warrant purporting to bear her signature was given by Burleigh and his associates to Beale, Feb. 3, 1587, but there is evidence that it may have borne that signature in consequence of a forgery effected by one Harrison, a clerk in the service of Secretary Walsingham, the most implacable and dishonest of Mary's enemies. An attempt to induce her jailers to poison her, in which Walsingham and Davison were the principal instruments, had failed. On Feb. 7 the earls of Kent and Shrewsbury proceeded to Fotheringay castle, and informed Mary that she must prepare to die the next morning, at 8 o'clock. She was taken by surprise, but bore herself with characteristic firmness. She made all her preparations for death with deliberation, and at the appointed time proceeded to the scaffold, which had been erected in the banqueting hall. She was denied the presence of her almoner, and was rudely importuned to change her faith by the bigoted dean of Peterborough, and by the brutal earl of Kent, whose efforts she quietly but firmly repulsed. She died with heroic bravery; and even when the executioner at first struck her on the skull, inflicting a horrible wound, she did not shrink or groan. Two more blows were necessary to despatch her.
After being contemptuously neglected for six months, her remains were buried in Peterborough cathedral, Elizabeth acting as chief mourner through Lady Bed-' ford; and 25 years afterward they were removed to Henry VII.'s chapel, in Westminster abbey, by order of her son James I. When Elizabeth was informed of Mary's death, she expressed great indignation, forbade Burleigh and Walsingham her presence as the sole authors of the crime, and sent their principal tool, Secretary Davison, to the tower, and had him fined £10,000. Davison's word is all the evidence that exists of Elizabeth having signed the warrant, and he was not only a witness in his own cause, but had been concerned in an attempt to induce Mary's jailers secretly to poison her. - The question of Mary's guilt or innocence of the crimes charged against her has been vehemently debated for three centuries, and hundreds of works have been written on it, while she has been a favorite character with poets and novelists. The question seems no nearer to a solution now than it was in the early days of her residence in England, when it was debated by George Buchanan on the one side, and by Lesley, bishop of Ross, her champion, on the other.
Among the numerous works in relation to Mary, we cite those of Lesley, "Defence of the Honor of Marie, Qnene of Scotland and Dowager of France" (London, 1569); George Buchanan, I)e Maria Srotorum Regina, etc. (London, 1571; translated into English by Robert Leck-previk, and also into French); WilliamUdall, "Historic of the Life and Death of Mary, Queen of Scotland" (London, 1624); William Sanderson, "Compleat History of the Lives and Reigns of Mary, Queen of Scotland, and of her son James VI." (London, 1656); " The Genuine Letters of Mary, Queen of Scots, to James, Earl of Bothwell," translated from the French originals by Edward Simmonds (Westminster, 1721); Jebb, "History of the Life and Reign of Mary, Queen of Scots and Dow-ager of France, extracted from original Records," etc. (London, 1725); James Anderson, "Collections relating to the History of Mary, Que.-n of Scotland" (Edinburgh, 1727-'8); De Marsy. Histoire de Marie Stuart (London and Paris, 1742-'3); Goodall, "Examination of the Letters said to be written by Marie, Queen of Scots, to James, Earl of Bothwell; also an Enquiry into the Murder of King Henry ' (Edinburgh, 1754); Robertson, "History of Scotland during the Reigns of Queen Mary and of James VI." (London, 1759); Tytler "An Enquiry, Historical and Critical, into the Evidence of Mary, Queen of Scots" (Edinburgh 1759); Whitaker, "Mary, Queen of Scots, Vindicated" (London, 1788); Thomas Robertson, "History of Mary, Queen of Scotland" (Edinburgh, 1793); George Chalmers, Life of Mary, Queen of Scots," etc. (London, 1818); Miss Benger, "Memoirs of Mary Stuart" (London, 1822); Hugh Campbell, " The Case of Mary, Queen of Scots, and of Elizabeth, Queen of England," and "Love Letters of Mary, Queen of Scots, and the Earl of Both-well" (London, 1825); Miss Strickland, "Letters of Mary, Queen of Scots" (London, 1842), and " Lives of the Queens of Scotland " (Edinburgh, 1850-'56); Prince Labanoff de Rostov, Lettres, instructions et memoires de Marie Stuart (7 vols., London, 1844; English translation, 1845); Dargaud, Histoire de Marie Stuart (Paris, 1850); Cheruel, Marie Stuart et Catherine de Medic is (Paris, 1858); Teulet, Lettres de Marie Stuart (Paris, 1859); Joseph Robertson, " Catalogues of the Jewels, Dresses, Furniture, Books, and Paintings of Mary, Queen of Scots " (Edinburgh, 1863); Flandre, "History of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots," translated from the manuscript of Prof. Petit (2 vols., London, 1874); Hosack, "Mary, Queen of Scots, and her Accuser " (2d ed., London, 1874); and "The Letter Books of Sir Amias Poulet, Keeper of Mary, Queen of Scots," edited by John Morris (London, 1874). See also Froude's " History of England," vols, vii.-xii. (London, 1870), and Meline, " Marv, Queen of Scots, and her latest English Historian" (New York, 1871).