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Mary's Marriage Personal Appearance And Popularity

Mary The Queen Dauphiness The Queen And The Queen Dowager Of France

Occurrences Immediately Preceding Darnley's Death

An Examination Of The Letters Sonnets And Other Writings Adduced In Evidence Against Mary Queen Of Scots

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Loch Leven Castle

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The Rebellion Of The Nobles The Meeting At Carberry Hill And Its Consequences

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A Lioness At Bay

Mary's Reception In England And The Conferences At York And Westminster






Misfortunes








1559-1561

Mary's love for Francis.--How to cherish the passion.--Grand
tournament.--Henry's pride.--An encounter.--The helmet.--The
vizor.--King Henry wounded.--His death.--The mournful
marriage.--The dauphin becomes king.--Catharine superseded.--Mary's
gentleness.--Coronation of Francis.--Francis's health
declines.--Superstition of the people.--Commotions in
Scotland.--Sickness of the queen regent.--Death of Mary's
mother.--Illness of Francis.--His last moments and death.--Mary a
young widow.--Embassadors from Scotland.--Mary's unwillingness to
leave France.--Mary in mourning.--She is called the White Queen.--A
device.--Mary's employments.--Her beautiful hands.--Melancholy
visit.--Mary returns to Paris.--Jealousy.--Queen Elizabeth.--Her
character.--Henry VIII.--Elizabeth's claim to the throne.--Mary's
claim.--The coat of arms.--Elizabeth offended and alarmed.--The
Catholic party.--A device.--Treaty of Edinburgh.--The
safe-conduct.--Elizabeth refuses the safe-conduct.--Mary's
speech.--Mary's true nobility of soul.--Sympathy with her.--Mary's
religious faith.--Her frankness and candor.


It was said in the last chapter that Mary loved her husband, infirm
and feeble as he was both in body and in mind. This love was probably
the effect, quite as much as it was the cause, of the kindness which
she showed him. As we are very apt to hate those whom we have
injured, so we almost instinctively love those who have in any way
become the objects of our kindness and care. If any wife, therefore,
wishes for the pleasure of loving her husband, or which is, perhaps,
a better supposition, if any husband desires the happiness of loving
his wife, conscious that it is a pleasure which he does not now
enjoy, let him commence by making her the object of his kind
attentions and care, and love will spring up in the heart as a
consequence of the kind of action of which it is more commonly the
cause.

About a year passed away, when at length another great celebration
took place in Paris, to honor the marriages of some other members of
King Henry's family. One of them was Francis's oldest sister. A
grand tournament was arranged on this occasion too. The place for
this tournament was where the great street of St. Antoine now lies,
and which may be found on any map of Paris. A very large concourse of
kings and nobles from all the courts of Europe were present. King
Henry, magnificently dressed, and mounted on a superb war-horse, was
a very prominent figure in all the parades of the occasion, though
the actual contests and trials of skill which took place were between
younger princes and knights, King Henry and the ladies being
generally only spectators and judges. He, however, took a part
himself on one or two occasions, and received great applause.

At last, at the end of the third day, just as the tournament was to
be closed, King Henry was riding around the field, greatly excited
with the pride and pleasure which so magnificent a spectacle was
calculated to awaken, when he saw two lances still remaining which
had not been broken. The idea immediately seized him of making one
more exhibition of his own power and dexterity in such contests. He
took one of the lances, and, directing a high officer who was riding
near him to take the other, he challenged him to a trial of skill.
The name of this officer was Montgomery. Montgomery at first
declined, being unwilling to contend with his king. The king
insisted. Queen Catharine begged that he would not contend again.
Accidents sometimes happened, she knew, in these rough encounters;
and, at any rate, it terrified her to see her husband exposed to such
dangers. The other lords and ladies, and Francis and Queen Mary
particularly, joined in these expostulations. But Henry was
inflexible. There was no danger, and, smiling at their fears, he
commanded Montgomery to arm himself with his lance and take his
position.

The spectators looked on in breathless silence. The two horsemen rode
toward each other, each pressing his horse forward to his utmost
speed, and as they passed, each aimed his lance at the head and
breast of the other. It was customary on such occasions to wear a
helmet, with a part called a vizor in front, which could be raised on
ordinary occasions, or let down in moments of danger like this, to
cover and protect the eyes. Of course this part of the armor was
weaker than the rest, and it happened that Montgomery's lance struck
here--was shivered--and a splinter of it penetrated the vizor and
inflicted a wound upon Henry, on the head, just over the eye. Henry's
horse went on. The spectators observed that the rider reeled and
trembled in his seat. The whole assembly were in consternation. The
excitement of pride and pleasure was every where turned into extreme
anxiety and alarm.

They flocked about Henry's horse, and helped the king to dismount. He
said it was nothing. They took off his helmet, and found large drops
of blood issuing from the wound. They bore him to his palace. He had
the magnanimity to say that Montgomery must not be blamed for this
result, as he was himself responsible for it entirely. He lingered
eleven days, and then died. This was in July, 1559.

One of the marriages which this unfortunate tournament had been
intended to celebrate, that of Elizabeth, the king's daughter, had
already taken place, having been performed a day or two before the
king was wounded; and it was decided, after Henry was wounded, that
the other must proceed, as there were great reasons of state against
any postponement of it. This second marriage was that of Margaret,
his sister. The ceremony in her case was performed in a silent and
private manner, at night, by torch-light, in the chapel of the
palace, while her brother was dying. The services were interrupted by
her sobs and tears.

Notwithstanding the mental and bodily feebleness which seemed to
characterize the dauphin, Mary's husband, who now, by the death of
his father, became King of France, the event of his accession to the
throne seemed to awaken his energies, and arouse him to animation and
effort. He was sick himself, and in his bed, in a palace called the
Tournelles, when some officers of state were ushered into his
apartment, and, kneeling before him, saluted him as king. This was
the first announcement of his father's death. He sprang from his bed,
exclaiming at once that he was well. It is one of the sad
consequences of hereditary greatness and power that a son must
sometimes rejoice at the death of his father.

It was Francis's duty to repair at once to the royal palace of the
Louvre, with Mary, who was now Queen of France as well as of
Scotland, to receive the homage of the various estates of the realm.
Catharine was, of course, now queen dowager. Mary, the child whom she
had so long looked upon with feelings of jealousy and envy was, from
this time, to take her place as queen. It was very humiliating to
Catharine to assume the position of a second and an inferior in the
presence of one whom she had so long been accustomed to direct and to
command. She yielded, however, with a good grace, though she seemed
dejected and sad. As they were leaving the Tournelles, she stopped to
let Mary go before her, saying, "Pass on, madame; it is your turn to
take precedence now." Mary went before her, but she stopped in her
turn, with a sweetness of disposition so characteristic of her, to
let Queen Catharine enter first into the carriage which awaited them
at the door.

Francis, though only sixteen, was entitled to assume the government
himself. He went to Rheims, a town northeast of Paris, where is an
abbey, which is the ancient place of coronation for the kings of
France. Here he was crowned. He appointed his ministers, and evinced,
in his management and in his measures, more energy and decision than
it was supposed he possessed. He himself and Mary were now, together,
on the summit of earthly grandeur. They had many political troubles
and cares which can not be related here, but Mary's life was
comparatively peaceful and happy, the pleasures which she enjoyed
being greatly enhanced by the mutual affection which existed between
herself and her husband.

Though he was small in stature, and very unprepossessing in
appearance and manners, Francis still evinced in his government a
considerable degree of good judgment and of energy. His health,
however, gradually declined. He spent much of his time in traveling,
and was often dejected and depressed. One circumstance made him feel
very unhappy. The people of many of the villages through which he
passed, being in those days very ignorant and superstitious, got a
rumor into circulation that the king's malady was such that he could
only be cured by being bathed in the blood of young children. They
imagined that he was traveling to obtain such a bath; and, wherever
he came, the people fled, mothers eagerly carrying off their children
from this impending danger. The king did not understand the cause
of his being thus shunned. They concealed it from him, knowing that
it would give him pain. He knew only the fact, and it made him very
sad to find himself the object of this mysterious and unaccountable
aversion.

In the mean time, while these occurrences had been taking place in
France, Mary's mother, the queen dowager of Scotland, had been made
queen regent of Scotland after her return from France; but she
experienced infinite trouble and difficulty in managing the affairs
of the country. The Protestant party became very strong, and took up
arms against her government. The English sent them aid. She, on the
other hand, with the Catholic interest to support her, defended her
power as well as she could, and called for help from France to
sustain her. And thus the country which she was so ambitious to
govern, was involved by her management in the calamities and sorrows
of civil war.

In the midst of this contest she died. During her last sickness she
sent for some of the leaders of the Protestant party, and did all
that she could to soothe and conciliate their minds. She mourned the
calamities and sufferings which the civil war had brought upon the
country, and urged the Protestants to do all in their power, after
her death, to heal these dissensions and restore peace. She also
exhorted them to remember their obligations of loyalty and obedience
to their absent queen, and to sustain and strengthen her government
by every means in their power. She died, and after her death the war
was brought to a close by a treaty of peace, in which the French and
English governments joined with the government of Scotland to settle
the points in dispute, and immediately afterward the troops of both
these nations were withdrawn. The death of the queen regent was
supposed to have been caused by the pressure of anxiety which the
cares of her government imposed. Her body was carried home to France,
and interred in the royal abbey at Rheims.

The death of Mary's mother took place in the summer of 1560. The next
December Mary was destined to meet with a much heavier affliction.
Her husband, King Francis, in addition to other complaints, had been
suffering for some time from pain and disease in the ear. One day,
when he was preparing to go out hunting, he was suddenly seized with
a fainting fit, and was soon found to be in great danger. He
continued some days very ill. He was convinced himself that he could
not recover, and began to make arrangements for his approaching end.
As he drew near to the close of his life, he was more and more deeply
impressed with a sense of Mary's kindness and love. He mourned very
much his approaching separation from her. He sent for his mother,
Queen Catharine, to come to his bedside, and begged that she would
treat Mary kindly, for his sake, after he was gone.

Mary was overwhelmed with grief at the approaching death of her
husband. She knew at once what a great change it would make in her
condition. She would lose immediately her rank and station. Queen
Catharine would again come into power, as queen regent, during the
minority of the next heir. All her friends of the family of Guise,
would be removed from office, and she herself would become a mere
guest and stranger in the land of which she had been the queen. But
nothing could arrest the progress of the disease under which her
husband was sinking. He died, leaving Mary a disconsolate widow of
seventeen.

The historians of those days say that Queen Catharine was much
pleased at the death of Francis her son. It restored her to rank and
power. Mary was again beneath her, and in some degree subject to her
will. All Mary's friends were removed from their high stations, and
others, hostile to her family, were put into their places. Mary soon
found herself unhappy at court, and she accordingly removed to a
castle at a considerable distance from Paris to the west, near the
city of Orleans. The people of Scotland wished her to return to her
native land. Both the great parties sent embassadors to her to ask
her to return, each of them urging her to adopt such measures on her
arrival in Scotland as should favor their cause. Queen Catharine,
too, who was still jealous of Mary's influence, and of the admiration
and love which her beauty and the loveliness of her character
inspired, intimated to her that perhaps it would be better for her
now to leave France and return to her own land.

Mary was very unwilling to go. She loved France. She knew very little
of Scotland. She was very young when she left it, and the few
recollections which she had of the country were confined to the
lonely island of Inchmahome and the Castle of Stirling. Scotland was
in a cold and inhospitable climate, accessible only through stormy
and dangerous seas, and it seemed to her that going there was going
into exile. Besides, she dreaded to undertake personally to
administer a government whose cares and anxieties had been so great
as to carry her mother to the grave.

Mary, however, found that it was in vain for her to resist the
influences which pressed upon her the necessity of returning to her
native land. She wandered about during the spring and summer after
her husband's death, spending her time in various palaces and abbeys,
and at length she began to prepare for her return to Scotland. The
same gentleness and loveliness of character which she had exhibited
in her prosperous fortunes, shone still more conspicuously now in her
hours of sorrow. Sometimes she appeared in public, in certain
ceremonies of state. She was then dressed in mourning--in
white--according to the custom in royal families in those days, her
dark hair covered by a delicate crape veil. Her beauty, softened and
chastened by her sorrows, made a strong impression upon all who saw
her.

She appeared so frequently, and attracted so much attention in her
white mourning, that she began to be known among the people as the
White Queen. Every body wanted to see her. They admired her beauty;
they were impressed with the romantic interest of her history; they
pitied her sorrows. She mourned her husband's death with deep and
unaffected grief. She invented a device and motto for a seal,
appropriate to the occasion: it was a figure of the liquorice-tree,
every part of which is useless except the root, which, of course,
lies beneath the surface of the earth. Underneath was the
inscription, in Latin, My treasure is in the ground. The expression
is much more beautiful in the Latin than can be expressed in any
English words.[D]

[Footnote D: Dulce meum terra tegit.]

Mary did not, however, give herself up to sullen and idle grief, but
employed herself in various studies and pursuits, in order to soothe
and solace her grief by useful occupation. She read Latin authors;
she studied poetry; she composed. She paid much attention to music,
and charmed those who were in her company by the sweet tones of her
voice and her skillful performance upon an instrument. The historians
even record a description of the fascinating effect produced by the
graceful movements of her beautiful hand. Whatever she did or said
seemed to carry with it an inexpressible charm.

Before she set out on her return to Scotland she went to pay a visit
to her grandmother, the same lady whom her mother had gone to see in
her castle, ten years before, on her return to Scotland after her
visit to Mary. During this ten years the unhappy mourner had made no
change in respect to her symbols of grief. The apartments of her
palace were still hung with black. Her countenance wore the same
expression of austerity and woe. Her attendants were trained to pay
to her every mark of the most profound deference in all their
approaches to her. No sounds of gayety or pleasure were to be heard,
but a profound stillness and solemnity reigned continually throughout
the gloomy mansion.

Not long before the arrangements were completed for Mary's return to
Scotland, she revisited Paris, where she was received with great
marks of attention and honor. She was now eighteen or nineteen years
of age, in the bloom of her beauty, and the monarch of a powerful
kingdom, to which she was about to return, and many of the young
princes of Europe began to aspire to the honor of her hand. Through
these and other influences, she was the object of much attention;
while, on the other hand, Queen Catharine, and the party in power at
the French court, were envious and jealous of her popularity, and did
a great deal to mortify and vex her.

The enemy, however, whom Mary had most to fear, was her cousin,
Queen Elizabeth of England. Queen Elizabeth was a maiden lady, now
nearly thirty years of age. She was in all respects extremely
different from Mary. She was a zealous Protestant, and very
suspicious and watchful in respect to Mary, on account of her
Catholic connections and faith. She was very plain in person, and
unprepossessing in manners. She was, however, intelligent and shrewd,
and was governed by calculations and policy in all that she did. The
people by whom she was surrounded admired her talents and feared her
power, but nobody loved her. She had many good qualities as a
monarch, but none considered as a woman.

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF QUEEN ELIZABETH.]

Elizabeth was somewhat envious of her cousin Mary's beauty, and of her
being such an object of interest and affection to all who knew her.
But she had a far more serious and permanent cause of alienation from
her than personal envy. It was this: Elizabeth's father, King Henry
VIII., had, in succession, several wives, and there had been a
question raised about the legality of his marriage with Elizabeth's
mother. Parliament decided at one time that this marriage was not
valid; at another time, subsequently, they decided that it was.
This difference in the two decisions was not owing so much to a
change of sentiment in the persons who voted, as to a change in the
ascendency of the parties by which the decision was controlled. If the
marriage were valid, then Elizabeth was entitled to the English crown.
If it were not valid, then she was not entitled to it: it belonged to
the next heir. Now it happened that Mary Queen of Scots was the next
heir. Her grandmother on the father's side was an English princess,
and through her Mary had a just title to the crown, if Queen
Elizabeth's title was annulled.

Now, while Mary was in France, during the lifetime of King Henry,
Francis's father, he and the members of the family of Guise advanced
Mary's claim to the British crown, and denied that of Elizabeth. They
made a coat of arms, in which the arms of France, and Scotland, and
England were combined, and had it engraved on Mary's silver plate. On
one great occasion, they had this symbol displayed conspicuously over
the gateway of a town where Mary was making a public entry. The
English embassador, who was present, made this, and the other acts of
the same kind, known to Elizabeth, and she was greatly incensed at
them. She considered Mary as plotting treasonably against her power,
and began to contrive plans to circumvent and thwart her.

Nor was Elizabeth wholly unreasonable in this. Mary, though
personally a gentle and peaceful woman, yet in her teens, was very
formidable to Elizabeth as an opposing claimant of the crown. All the
Catholics in France and in Scotland would naturally take Mary's side.
Then, besides this, there was a large Catholic party in England, who
would be strongly disposed to favor any plan which should give them a
Catholic monarch. Elizabeth was, therefore, very justly alarmed at
such a claim on the part of her cousin. It threatened not only to
expose her to the aggressions of foreign foes, but also to internal
commotions and dangers, in her own dominions.

The chief responsibility for bringing forward this claim must rest
undoubtedly, not on Mary herself, but on King Henry of France and the
other French princes, who first put it forward. Mary, however,
herself, was not entirely passive in the affair. She liked to
consider herself as entitled to the English crown. She had a device
for a seal, a very favorite one with her, which expressed this claim.
It contained two crowns, with a motto in Latin below which meant,
"A third awaits me." Elizabeth knew all these things, and she held
Mary accountable for all the anxiety and alarm which this dangerous
claim occasioned her.

At the peace which was made in Scotland between the French and
English forces and the Scotch, by the great treaty of Edinburgh which
has been already described, it was agreed that Mary should relinquish
all claim to the crown of England. This treaty was brought to France
for Mary to ratify it, but she declined. Whatever rights she might
have to the English crown, she refused to surrender them. Things
remained in this state until the time arrived for her return to her
native land, and then, fearing that perhaps Elizabeth might do
something to intercept her passage, she applied to her for a
safe-conduct; that is, a writing authorizing her to pass safely and
without hinderance through the English dominions, whether land or
sea. Queen Elizabeth returned word through her embassador in Paris,
whose name was Throckmorton, that she could not give her any such
safe-conduct, because she had refused to ratify the treaty of
Edinburgh.

When this answer was communicated to Mary, she felt deeply wounded
by it. She sent all the attendants away, that she might express
herself to Throckmorton without reserve. She told him that it seemed
to her very hard that her cousin was disposed to prevent her return
to her native land. As to her claim upon the English crown, she said
that advancing it was not her plan, but that of her husband and his
father; and that now she could not properly renounce it, whatever its
validity might be, till she could have opportunity to return to
Scotland and consult with her government there, since it affected not
her personally alone, but the public interests of Scotland. "And
now," she continued, in substance, "I am sorry that I asked such a
favor of her. I have no need to ask it, for I am sure I have a right
to return from France to my own country without asking permission of
any one. You have often told me that the queen wished to be on
friendly terms with me, and that it was your opinion that to be
friends would be best for us both. But now I see that she is not of
your mind, but is disposed to treat me in an unkind and unfriendly
manner, while she knows that I am her equal in rank, though I do not
pretend to be her equal in abilities and experience. Well she may do
as she pleases. If my preparations were not so far advanced, perhaps
I should give up the voyage. But I am resolved to go. I hope the
winds will prove favorable, and carry me away from her shores. If
they carry me upon them, and I fall into her hands, she may make what
disposal of me she will. If I lose my life, I shall esteem it no
great loss, for it is now little else than a burden."

How strongly this speech expresses "that mixture of melancholy and
dignity, of womanly softness and noble decision, which pervaded her
character." There is a sort of gentleness even in her anger, and a
certain indescribable womanly charm in the workings of her mind,
which cause all who read her story, while they can not but think that
Elizabeth was right, to sympathize wholly with Mary.

Throckmorton, at one of his conversations with Mary, took occasion to
ask her respecting her religious views, as Elizabeth wished to know
how far she was fixed and committed in her attachment to the Catholic
faith. Mary said that she was born and had been brought up a
Catholic, and that she should remain so as long as she lived. She
would not interfere, she said, with her subjects adopting such form
of religion as they might prefer, but for herself she should not
change. If she should change, she said, she should justly lose the
confidence of her people; for, if they saw that she was light and
fickle on that subject, they could not rely upon her in respect to
any other. She did not profess to be able to argue, herself, the
questions of difference, but she was not wholly uninformed in respect
to them, as she had often heard the points discussed by learned men,
and had found nothing to lead her to change her ground.

It is impossible for any reader, whether Protestant or Catholic, not
to admire the frankness and candor, the honest conscientiousness, the
courage, and, at the same time, womanly modesty and propriety which
characterize this reply.





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Previous: The Great Wedding



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