Bess of Hardwick, Countess of Shrewsbury 1521-1608

Bess of Hardwick was one of five surviving children of a family of minor gentry, but was a lady of unfailing personal ambition and undoubted charisma. She had been brought up at Hardwick Hall, although her father died within a year of her birth, and the family were impoverished. In accordance with normal practice for […]

Feuding of the Scottish Nobility in the 16th Century

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During the Sixteenth Century feuding between rival Scottish clans caused catastrophic problems between them, generally resulting in the Crown having to step in to settle matters. In researching The Challenge to the Crown and The Survival of the Crown, I followed the feud between the Kennedys of Cassillis (pronounced Cassells) and the Kennedys of Bargany. […]

George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury 1528–1590

As a young man George Talbot saw military service under Protector Somerset in the ‘Rough Wooings’ in Scotland and he married Gertrude Manners, daughter of the 1st Earl of Rutland, by whom he had six children, although she died in 1566. In March 1568, he married Bess of Hardwick, the wealthy widow of Sir William […]

Esmé Stuart, 1st Duke of Lennox

Esmé Stuart was born in France, the son of John Stuart, younger brother of Matthew Stuart, 4th Earl of Lennox. For several generations the junior branch of the Lennox Stuarts had lived in France, where they fulfilled illustrious careers as mercenaries and were the traditional captains of the Scottish Gens d’Armes. The title of Seigneur […]

Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk 1536-1572

Thomas Howard was born at Kenninghall, the family home in Norfolk, on 10 March 1536, but his father was executed in 1547, after a paranoiac Henry VIII believed that he was trying to usurp the succession from Edward VI to maintain Catholicism. Thomas was brought up as a Protestant under the care of his aunt […]

Lord Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester 1532-1588

Lord Robert Dudley was one of thirteen children of John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, later Duke of Northumberland. In 1550, at the age of eighteen, he married Amy Robsart, although they had no children. In 1553, his father, now acting as Protector for the consumptive Edward VI, attempted to avoid Mary Tudor, as a Catholic, […]

John Erskine, 1st and 22nd Earl of Mar (17th Earl) d. 1572

Note: The numbering of the Earls of Mar causes confusion. There were two titles, the ancient earldom of Mar, which passed through the female line, and a title originally created for Lord James Stewart on his marriage. When Lord James became Earl of Moray, John Erskine received the new Mar Earldom, but it passed only […]

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 […]