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 […]

Catherine de Medici 1519- 1589

Catherine de Medici owed her position as consort of Henri II to the political manoeuvring of her father-in-law, Francis I of France and his alliances with Popes Leo X and Pope Clement VII, both members of the Florentine de Medici family, to combat Spain and the Holy Roman Empire. The Medicis were not longstanding French […]

James Douglas, 4th Earl of Morton 1516-1581

David and James Douglas were a bit lucky. They were the sons of Sir George Douglas of Pittendreich, the younger brother of Archibald, 6th Earl of Angus. Sir George had been a loyal supporter of Angus, his brother, fighting on behalf of the English party in Scottish politics. Angus had married Princess Margaret Tudor, by […]

James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, 1535-1578

James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell was a ladies’ man, powerfully attractive to women; he had a string of mistresses, and was noted as an able and swash-buckling soldier. He was a person of strong language and sexual appetite, although by repute he was not averse to homosexual relationships and enjoyed anal sex. He was […]

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 […]