James VI of Scotland & I of England 1566-1625

Note: This article deals with the period of James VI’s life until he also became King of England in 1603. James was born at Edinburgh Castle on 19 June 1566 after a difficult birth for his mother, Mary Queen of Scots. He was soon placed in the care of the Earl of Mar and his wife Annabella […]

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 […]

George Buchanan 1502 – 1582

George Buchanan had an impoverished upbringing after his father, a farmer in Killearn, Stirlingshire, had died young. His mother brought him to Edinburgh, from where his uncle James Heriot sent him, in 1520, to the University of Paris. He quickly gained a reputation as an academic student, but fell ill. Having recovered, he returned to […]

Sir William Kirkcaldy of Grange 1530-1573

Sir William Kirkcaldy of Grange was the son of Sir James Kirkcaldy, Lord High Treasurer under James V. His mother was Janet Melville sister of the five Melville brother who played such a prominent part as civil servants and diplomats during the reign of Mary Queen of Scots. He first came to notice in 1546 […]

David Riccio 1533-1566

David Riccio di Pancaliere in Piedmonte was an Italian courtier, born near Turin, a descendant of the Riccio Counts de San Paolo et Solbrito. As a young man, he went from Turin to Nice to seek a position at the court of the Duke of Savoy. On finding no opportunities for advancement, he was admitted, […]

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 […]

Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley 1545-1567

Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley was the eldest son of Matthew Stuart, 4th Earl of Lennox and Lady Margaret Douglas, niece of Henry VIII. He was born on 7 December 1546, and was four years younger than Mary Queen of Scots.  He and his brother Charles, nine years his junior, were the only two of the […]

Map of the Battle of Langside 1567

The Battle of Langside – 13 May 1568

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On 2nd May 1568, Mary Queen of Scots escaped from Lochleven Castle, where she had been imprisoned for ten months after being arrested and deposed from the Crown by members of the Scottish nobility. With Mary determined to reclaim her crown,  her escape was a huge crisis for the Scottish Government headed by Lord James Stewart, Earl […]

Lady Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox 1515-1578

On 8 October 1515, Princess Margaret Tudor, Queen Dowager of Scotland and sister of Henry VIII, gave birth to her daughter, Margaret, by her second husband, Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus. She had recently been forced to hand over the Scottish Regency to the Duke of Albany, who had arrived from France, and had […]

Matthew Stuart, 4th Earl of Lennox, 1516-1571

Matthew, 4th Earl of Lennox spent most of his early years in France. He left Scotland in 1526 at the age of ten after his father had been killed by James Hamilton of Finnart, the illegitimate son of the Earl of Arran. There was rivalry enough between the Hamiltons and the Lennox Stuarts, who competed […]