Mary, Queen of Scots - Summary

Mary, Queen of Scots should lead an enchanted life. Instead, she spends most of her adult life in prison. Born into royalty, she becomes queen at 6 days old; she marries the Dauphin of France at age 16. By 18, she is a widow who never experiences a customary childhood but serves as a political pawn to develop alliances between countries.

Henry VIII wants Mary to wed his sickly son, Prince Edward, but the Catholics want her to wed Dauphin Francis, heir to the French throne. This conflict causes a war called the "Rough Wooing," which the French win. Mary goes to France to become a member of the French court. She finds happiness during this time in her life. At sixteen, she marries King Francis II, and becomes queen consort, but Francis II dies when she is 18.  Mary returns to Scotland.

With Mary’s return to Scotland, she confronts conflicts with her cousin, Elizabeth. Princess Elizabeth has become Queen Elizabeth, but many feel she is not the rightful heir to the throne.

To strengthen her own claim to the English throne, Mary marries Lord Darnley.  He also has his own claim to the throne of England. Darnley proves to be a jealous husband, and executes Mary’s secretary Rizzio.  Then Darnley is also murdered.

Evidence against Mary implicates her in the plot against Darnley.  Elizabeth uses Darnley’s murder to discredit Mary’s claim to the English throne. Ignoring her advisors, Mary thereafter marries the Earl of Bothwell, who also may have played a part in Darnley’s death. Mary’s actions force her to abdicate the throne, in favor of her young son, and to separate from the Earl of Bothwell. 

Seeking protection in England, Mary turns to her cousin Elizabeth for support. Unsuccessfully seeking an audience with Queen Elizabeth for 19 years, as she is under house arrest in various places, Mary tries to return to Scotland. She appears to be a threat to her English captors, and they will not let her leave.

Many Catholics still consider Mary the rightful heir to the thrones of both England and Scotland, so one of Elizabeth's key advisors orchestrates a plan, behind the scenes, to prove Mary is a traitor. Francis Walsingham uses an unsuspecting pawn, who concocts a plan to free Mary and end the reign of Elizabeth.  If Mary reacts favorably to this plan, she could be ensnared as a willing participant in actions against her cousin, the Queen.  

When Mary signs her response to the letter, she is trapped. Since she does not discourage the pawn from his plot to kill Queen Elizabeth, she is accused of being a traitor. 

As royalty, Mary is charged with treason but is not given a lawyer to defend her. After a short trial, she stands guilty with the execution of her death sentence in Elizabeth’s hands. Elizabeth delays, but finally signs Mary’s death warrant and condemns her to death.

Mary is beheaded in a public spectacle. Even her execution does not go as planned. It takes three attempts to behead her. Ironically, her tomb lies beside Elizabeth’s. Even in death, she cannot escape the Tudors. 

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5155stories and lessons created

Original Release: Aug 01, 2003

Updated Last Revision: Apr 28, 2015

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"Mary, Queen of Scots" AwesomeStories.com. Aug 01, 2003. Jul 22, 2018.
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