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Mary's Marriage Personal Appearance And Popularity

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

A Tangle

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

Occurrences Immediately Preceding Darnley's Death

The Little Waif

Paul's Walk



Mary's Birth And Subsequent Residence At The French Court

Least Viewed

Return To Scotland

The Bewitched Whistle

Hunting Down The Deer

My Lady's Remorse

The Love Token

Queen Mary's Presence Chamber

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

Mary's Eighteen Years' Captivity

Ten Years After

Before The Commissioners

The Great Wedding


Hastening the wedding.--Reasons for it.--Attempt to poison
Mary.--The Guises.--Catharine's jealousy.--Commissioners from
Scotland.--Preliminaries.--Stipulations.--Plan of Henry to
evade them.--Marriage settlement.--Secret papers.--Their
contents.--Ceremonies.--The betrothal.--The Louvre.--Notre
Dame.--View of the interior.--Amphitheater.--Covered gallery.--The
procession.--Mary's dress.--Appearance of Mary.--Wedding
ring.--Movement of the procession.--Largess.--Confusion.--The
choir.--Mass.--Return of the procession.--Collation.--Ball.--Evening's
entertainments.--A tournament.--Rank of the combatants.--Lances.--Rapid
evolutions.--Tourner.--Francis's feebleness.--Mary's love for
him.--He retires to the country.--Rejoicings in Scotland.--Mons
Meg.--Large ball.--Celebration of Mary's marriage.

When Mary was about fifteen years of age, the King of France began to
think that it was time for her to be married. It is true that she was
still very young, but there were strong reasons for having the
marriage take place at the earliest possible period, for fear that
something might occur to prevent its consummation at all. In fact,
there were very strong parties opposed to it altogether. The whole
Protestant interest in Scotland were opposed to it, and were
continually contriving plans to defeat it. They thought that if Mary
married a French prince, who was, of course, a Catholic, she would
become wedded to the Catholic interest hopelessly and forever. This
made them feel a most bitter and determined opposition to the plan.

In fact, so bitter and relentless were the animosities that grew out
of this question, that an attempt was actually made to poison Mary.
The man who committed this crime was an archer in the king's guard:
he was a Scotch man, and his name was Stewart. His attempt was
discovered in time to prevent the accomplishment of his purpose. He
was tried and condemned. They made every effort to induce him to
explain the reason which led him to such an act, or, if he was
employed by others, to reveal their names; but he would reveal
nothing. He was executed for his crime, leaving mankind to conjecture
that his motive, or that of the persons who instigated him to the
deed, was a desperate determination to save Scotland, at all hazards,
from falling under the influence of papal power.

Mary's mother, the queen dowager of Scotland, was of a celebrated
French family, called the family of Guise. She is often, herself,
called in history, Mary of Guise. There were other great families in
France who were very jealous of the Guises, and envious of their
influence and power. They opposed Queen Mary's marriage to the
dauphin, and were ready to do all in their power to thwart and defeat
it. Queen Catharine, too, who seemed to feel a greater and greater
degree of envy and jealousy against Mary as she saw her increasing in
grace, beauty, and influence with her advancing years, was supposed
to be averse to the marriage. Mary was, in some sense, her rival,
and she could not bear to have her become the wife of her son.

King Henry, finding all these opposing influences at work, thought
that the safest plan would be to have the marriage carried into
effect at the earliest possible period. When, therefore, Mary was
about fifteen years of age, which was in 1557, he sent to Scotland,
asking the government there to appoint some commissioners to come to
France to assent to the marriage contracts, and to witness the
ceremonies of the betrothment and the wedding. The marriage
contracts, in the case of the union of a queen of one country with a
prince of another, are documents of very high importance. It is
considered necessary not only to make very formal provision for the
personal welfare and comfort of the wife during her married life, and
during her widowhood in case of the death of her husband, but also to
settle beforehand the questions of succession which might arise out
of the marriage, and to define precisely the rights and powers both
of the husband and the wife, in the two countries to which they
respectively belong.

The Parliament of Scotland appointed a number of commissioners, of
the highest rank and station, to proceed to France, and to act there
as the representatives of Scotland in every thing which pertained to
the marriage. They charged them to guard well the rights and powers
of Mary, to see that these rights and all the interests of Scotland
were well protected in the marriage contracts, and to secure proper
provision for the personal comfort and happiness of the queen. The
number of these commissioners was eight. Their departure from
Scotland was an event of great public importance. They were
accompanied by a large number of attendants and followers, who were
eager to be present in Paris at the marriage festivities. The whole
company arrived safely at Paris, and were received with every
possible mark of distinction and honor.

The marriage contracts were drawn up, and executed with great
formality. King Henry made no objection to any of the stipulations
and provisions which the commissioners required, for he had a secret
plan for evading them all. Very ample provision was made for Mary
herself. She was to have a very large income. In case the dauphin
died while he was dauphin, leaving Mary a widow, she was still to
have a large income paid to her by the French government as long as
she lived, whether she remained in France or went back to Scotland.
If her husband outlived his father, so as to become King of France,
and then died, leaving Mary his widow, her income for the rest of her
life was to be double what it would have been if he had died while
dauphin. Francis was, in the mean time, to share with her the
government of Scotland. If they had a son, he was to be, after their
deaths, King of France and of Scotland too. Thus the two crowns would
have been united. If, on the other hand, they had only daughters, the
oldest one was to be Queen of Scotland only, as the laws of France
did not allow a female to inherit the throne. In case they had no
children, the crown of Scotland was not to come into the French
family at all, but to descend regularly to the next Scotch heir.

Henry was not satisfied with this entirely, for he wanted to secure
the union of the Scotch and French crowns at all events, whether Mary
had children or not; and he persuaded Mary to sign some papers with
him privately, which he thought would secure his purposes, charging
her not to let the commissioners know that she had signed them. He
thought it possible that he should never have occasion to produce
them. One of these papers conveyed the crown of Scotland to the King
of France absolutely and forever, in case Mary should die without
children. Another provided that the Scotch government should repay
him for the enormous sums he had expended upon Mary during her
residence in France, for her education, her attendants, the
celebrations and galas which he had provided for her, and all the
splendid journeys, processions, and parades. His motive in all this
expense had been to unite the crown of Scotland to that of France,
and he wished to provide that if any thing should occur to prevent
the execution of his plan, he could have all this money reimbursed to
him again. He estimated the amount at a million of pieces of gold.
This was an enormous sum: it shows on how magnificent a scale Mary's
reception and entertainment in France were managed.

These preliminary proceedings being settled, all Paris, and, in fact,
all France, began to prepare for the marriage celebrations. There
were to be two great ceremonies connected with the occasion. The
first was the betrothment, the second was the marriage. At the
betrothment Francis and Mary were to meet in a great public hall,
and there, in the presence of a small and select assemblage of the
lords and ladies of the court, and persons of distinction connected
with the royal family, they were formally and solemnly to engage
themselves to each other. Then, in about a week afterward, they were
to be married, in the most public manner, in the great Cathedral
Church of Notre Dame.

The ceremony of the betrothal was celebrated in the palace. The
palace then occupied by the royal family was the Louvre. It still
stands, but is no longer a royal dwelling. Another palace, more
modern in its structure, and called the Tuilleries, has since been
built, a little farther from the heart of the city, and in a more
pleasant situation. The Louvre is square, with an open court in the
center. This open court or area is very large, and is paved like the
streets. In fact, two great carriage ways pass through it, crossing
each other at right angles in the center, and passing out under great
arch-ways in the four sides of the building. There is a large hall
within the palace, and in this hall the ceremony of the betrothal
took place. Francis and Mary pledged their faith to each other with
appropriate ceremonies. Only a select circle of relations and
intimate friends were present on this occasion. The ceremony was
concluded in the evening with a ball.

In the mean time, all Paris was busy with preparations for the
marriage. The Louvre is upon one side of the River Seine, its
principal front being toward the river, with a broad street between.
There are no buildings, but only a parapet wall on the river side of
the street, so that there is a fine view of the river and of the
bridges which cross it, from the palace windows. Nearly opposite the
Louvre is an island, covered with edifices, and connected, by means
of bridges, with either shore. The great church of Notre Dame, where
the marriage ceremony was to be performed, is upon this island. It
has two enormous square towers in front, which may be seen, rising
above all the roofs of the city, at a great distance in every
direction. Before the church is a large open area, where vast crowds
assemble on any great occasion. The interior of the church impresses
the mind with the sublimest emotions. Two rows of enormous columns
rise to a great height on either hand, supporting the lofty arches of
the roof. The floor is paved with great flat stones, and resounds
continually with the footsteps of visitors, who walk to and fro, up
and down the aisles, looking at the chapels, the monuments, the
sculptures, the paintings, and the antique and grotesque images and
carvings. Colored light streams through the stained glass of the
enormous windows, and the tones of the organ, and the voices of the
priests, chanting the service of the mass, are almost always
resounding and echoing from the vaulted roof above.

The words Notre Dame mean Our Lady, an expression by which the
Roman Catholics denote Mary, the mother of Jesus. The church of Notre
Dame had been for many centuries the vast cathedral church of Paris,
where all great ceremonies of state were performed. On this occasion
they erected a great amphitheater in the area before the church,
which would accommodate many thousands of the spectators who were to
assemble, and enable them to see the procession. The bride and
bridegroom, and their friends, were to assemble in the bishop's
palace, which was near the Cathedral, and a covered gallery was
erected, leading from this palace to the church, through which the
bridal party were to enter. They lined this gallery throughout with
purple velvet, and ornamented it in other ways, so as to make the
approach to the church through it inconceivably splendid.

Crowds began to collect in the great amphitheater early in the
morning. The streets leading to Notre Dame were thronged. Every
window in all the lofty buildings around, and every balcony, was
full. From ten to twelve the military bands began to arrive, and the
long procession was formed, the different parties being dressed in
various picturesque costumes. The embassadors of various foreign
potentates were present, each bearing their appropriate insignia. The
legate of the pope, magnificently dressed, had an attendant bearing
before him a cross of massive gold. The bridegroom, Francis the
dauphin, followed this legate, and soon afterward came Mary,
accompanied by the king. She was dressed in white. Her robe was
embroidered with the figure of the lily, and it glittered with
diamonds and ornaments of silver. As was the custom in those days,
her dress formed a long train, which was borne by two young girls who
walked behind her. She wore a diamond necklace, with a ring of
immense value suspended from it, and upon her head was a golden
coronet, enriched with diamonds and gems of inestimable value.

But the dress and the diamonds which Mary wore were not the chief
points of attraction to the spectators. All who were present on the
occasion agree in saying that she looked inexpressibly beautiful, and
that there was an indescribable grace and charm in all her movements
and manner, which filled all who saw her with an intoxication of
delight. She was artless and unaffected in her manners, and her
countenance, the expression of which was generally placid and calm,
was lighted up with the animation and interest of the occasion, so as
to make every body envy the dauphin the possession of so beautiful a
bride. Queen Catharine, and a long train of the ladies of the court,
followed in the procession after Mary. Every body thought that she
felt envious and ill at ease.

The essential thing in the marriage ceremony was to be the putting of
the wedding ring upon Mary's finger, and the pronouncing of the
nuptial benediction which was immediately to follow it. This ceremony
was to be performed by the Archbishop of Rouen, who was at that time
the greatest ecclesiastical dignitary in France. In order that as
many persons as possible might witness this, it was arranged that it
should be performed at the great door of the church, so as to be in
view of the immense throng which had assembled in the amphitheater
erected in the area, and of the multitudes which had taken their
positions at the windows and balconies, and on the house-tops around.
The procession, accordingly, having entered the church through the

covered gallery, moved along the aisles and came to the great door.
Here a royal pavilion had been erected, where the bridal party could
stand in view of the whole assembled multitude. King Henry had the
ring. He gave it to the archbishop. The archbishop placed it upon
Mary's finger, and pronounced the benediction in a loud voice. The
usual congratulations followed, and Mary greeted her husband under
the name of his majesty the King of Scotland. Then the whole mighty
crowd rent the air with shouts and acclamations.

It was the custom in those days, on such great public occasions as
this, to scatter money among the crowd, that they might scramble for
it. This was called the king's largess; and the largess was
pompously proclaimed by heralds before the money was thrown. The
throwing of the money among this immense throng produced a scene of
indescribable confusion. The people precipitated themselves upon each
other in their eagerness to seize the silver and the gold. Some were
trampled under foot. Some were stripped of their hats and cloaks, or
had their clothes torn from them. Some fainted, and were borne out of
the scene with infinite difficulty and danger. At last the people
clamorously begged the officers to desist from throwing any more
money, for fear that the most serious and fatal consequences might

In the mean time, the bridal procession returned into the church,
and, advancing up the center between the lofty columns, they came to
a place called the choir, which is in the heart of the church, and is
inclosed by screens of carved and sculptured work. It is in the choir
that congregations assemble to be present at mass and other religious
ceremonies. Movable seats are placed here on ordinary occasions, but
at the time of this wedding the place was fitted up with great
splendor. Here mass was performed in the presence of the bridal
party. Mass is a solemn ceremony conducted by the priests, in which
they renew, or think they renew, the sacrifice of Christ, accompanied
with offerings of incense, and other acts of adoration, and the
chanting of solemn hymns of praise.

At the close of these services the procession moved again down the
church, and, issuing forth at the great entrance, it passed around
upon a spacious platform, where it could be seen to advantage by all
the spectators. Mary was the center to which all eyes were turned.
She moved along, the very picture of grace and beauty, the two young
girls who followed her bearing her train. The procession, after
completing its circuit, returned to the church, and thence, through
the covered gallery, it moved back to the bishop's palace. Here the
company partook of a grand collation. After the collation there was a
ball, but the ladies were too much embarrassed with their magnificent
dresses to be able to dance, and at five o'clock the royal family
returned to their home. Mary and Queen Catharine went together in a
sort of palanquin, borne by men, high officers of state walking on
each side. The king and the dauphin followed on horseback, with a
large company in their train; but the streets were every where so
crowded with eager spectators that it was with extreme difficulty
that they were able to make their way.

The palace to which the party went to spend the evening was fitted up
and illuminated in the most splendid manner, and a variety of most
curious entertainments had been contrived for the amusement of the
company. There were twelve artificial horses, made to move by
internal mechanism, and splendidly caparisoned. The children of the
company, the little princes and dukes, mounted these horses and rode
around the arena. Then came in a company of men dressed like
pilgrims, each of whom recited a poem written in honor of the
occasion. After this was an exhibition of galleys, or boats, upon a
little sea. These boats were large enough to bear up two persons.
There were two seats in each, one of which was occupied by a young
gentleman. As the boats advanced, one by one, each gentleman leaped

to the shore, or to what represented the shore, and, going among the
company, selected a lady and bore her off to his boat, and then,
seating her in the vacant chair, took his place by her side, and
continued his voyage. Francis was in one of the boats, and he, on
coming to the shore, took Mary for his companion.

The celebrations and festivities of this famous wedding continued for
fifteen days. They closed with a grand tournament. A tournament was a
very magnificent spectacle in those days. A field was inclosed, in
which kings, and princes, and knights, fully armed, and mounted on
war-horses, tilted against each other with lances and blunted swords.
Ladies of high rank were present as spectators and judges, and one
was appointed at each tournament to preside, and to distribute the
honors and rewards to those who were most successful in the contests.
The greatest possible degree of deference and honor was paid to the
ladies by all the knights on these occasions. Once, at a tournament
in London, arranged by a king of England, the knights and noblemen
rode in a long procession to the field, each led by a lady by means
of a silver chain. It was a great honor to be admitted to a share in
these contests, as none but persons of the highest rank were allowed
to take a part in them. Whenever one was to be held, invitations were
sent to all the courts of Europe, and kings, queens, and sovereign
princes came to witness the spectacle.

The horsemen who contended on these occasions carried long lances,
blunt, indeed, at the end, so that they could not penetrate the armor
of the antagonist at which they were aimed, but yet of such weight
that the momentum of the blow was sometimes sufficient to unhorse
him. The great object of every combatant was, accordingly, to
protect himself from this danger. He must turn his horse suddenly,
and avoid the lance of his antagonist; or he must strike it with his
own, and thus parry the blow; or if he must encounter it, he was to
brace himself firmly in his saddle, and resist its impulse with all
the strength that he could command. It required, therefore, great
strength and great dexterity to excel in a tournament. In fact, the
rapidity of the evolutions which it required gave origin to the name,
the word tournament being formed from a French word[C] which
signifies to turn.

[Footnote C: Tourner.]

The princes and noblemen who were present at the wedding all joined
in the tournament except the poor bridegroom, who was too weak and
feeble in body, and too timid in mind, for any such rough and warlike
exercises. Francis was very plain and unprepossessing in countenance,
and shy and awkward in his manners. His health had always been very
infirm, and though his rank was very high, as he was the heir
apparent to what was then the greatest throne in Europe, every body
thought that in all other respects he was unfit to be the husband of
such a beautiful and accomplished princess as Mary. He was timid,
shy, and anxious and unhappy in disposition. He knew that the gay and
warlike spirits around him could not look upon him with respect, and
he felt a painful sense of his inferiority.

Mary, however, loved him. It was a love, perhaps, mingled with pity.
She did not assume an air of superiority over him, but endeavored to
encourage him, to lead him forward, to inspire him with confidence
and hope, and to make him feel his own strength and value. She was
herself of a sedate and thoughtful character, and with all her
intellectual superiority, she was characterized by that feminine
gentleness of spirit, that disposition to follow and to yield rather
than to govern, that desire to be led and to be loved rather than to
lead and be admired, which constitute the highest charm of woman.

Francis was glad when the celebrations, tournament and all, were well
over. He set off from Paris with his young bride to one of his
country residences, where he could live, for a while, in peace and
quietness. Mary was released, in some degree, from the restraints,
and formalities, and rules of etiquette of King Henry's court, and
was, to some extent, her own mistress, though still surrounded with
many attendants, and much parade and splendor. The young couple thus
commenced the short period of their married life. They were certainly
a very young couple, being both of them under sixteen.

The rejoicings on account of the marriage were not confined to Paris.
All Scotland celebrated the event with much parade. The Catholic
party there were pleased with the final consummation of the event,
and all the people, in fact, joined, more or less, in commemorating
the marriage of their queen. There is in the Castle of Edinburgh, on
a lofty platform which overlooks a broad valley, a monstrous gun,
several centuries old, which was formed of bars of iron secured by
great iron hoops. The balls which this gun carried are more than a
foot in diameter. The name of this enormous piece of ordnance is
Mons Meg. It is now disabled, having been burst, many years ago,
and injured beyond the possibility of repair. There were great
rejoicings in Edinburgh at the time of Mary's marriage, and from some
old accounts which still remain at the castle, it appears that ten
shillings were paid to some men for moving up Mons Meg to the
embrasure of the battery, and for finding and bringing back her shot
after she was discharged; by which it appears that firing Mons Meg
was a part of the celebration by which the people of Edinburgh
honored the marriage of their queen.

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