Elizabeth I, Queen of England 1533-1603

Note: This biography focusses on Elizabeth’s attitude to Scotland and both Mary Queen of Scots and James VI. Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII by Anne Boleyn, born at Greenwich on 7 March 1533. When her mother was executed in 1536, she was declared illegitimate, but was named in the order of succession in Henry VIII’s […]

Mary Queen of Scots 1542-1587

Mary Queen of Scots was born at Linlithgow on 8 December 1542. Her father, James V survived her birth by only six days, dying of acute depression following the defeat of the Scots at the hands of the English at Solway Moss. The English were soon hoping to establish a Scottish alliance to prevent having […]

William Maitland of Lethington, 1525-1573

William Maitland of Lethington was a man of great wit and learning from a well-connected, but not noble, Scottish family. He had been educated at St. Andrews and the French Court. His loyalties were not based on any strong religious conviction, but Knox converted him to be a Reformer in 1556. Although his brilliance as […]

Francis II, King of France 1544-1560

Catherine de Medici was aged twenty-four and had been married to Henry II of France for ten years, before she at last conceived a child. In desperation she had turned to a Doctor, Jean Fernel, for advice. No one knows what he said, but he proposed a solution to the problem said to involve a […]

Mary of Guise, Queen Regent of Scotland, 1515-1560

Following the death of the consumptive Queen Madeleine, daughter of Francis I of France, James V of Scotland sent the newly appointed Cardinal Bethune to Paris in early 1538 to find him a new French bride.  The chosen spouse was Marie of Guise born in 1515, daughter of the powerful Claude, Duke of Guise. She […]

Lord James Stewart, Earl of Moray & Regent of Scotland, 1531-1571

Lord James Stewart, born in 1531, was the son of James V by his mistress Margaret Erskine, daughter of the Earl of Mar. She later claimed to have been secretly married to the King to promote his legitimacy, but this might have proved more plausible if she had not been married to Sir Robert Douglas […]

What happened to “the four Marys” (Beaton, Seton, Fleming, and Livingston) after the death of their lady, Mary, Queen of Scots?

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The four ‘Maries’ accompanied Mary Queen of Scots as a child to France in 1548 and remained her closest lifelong friends. Mary Beaton was the daughter of the head of Mary’s household, who accompanied her, and the others were the daughters of the three noble families closest to the Stewart Court. They had taken a […]