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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

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Return To Scotland

My Lady's Remorse

The Bewitched Whistle

Hunting Down The Deer

Mary's Eighteen Years' Captivity

Queen Mary's Presence Chamber

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

The Love Token

Before The Commissioners

The Ebbing Well

Scotland And Its Troubles During Mary's Infancy

James V. left, as an inheritance to his kingdom, an expensive and
destructive war with England. He likewise left what, under such
circumstances, was a very questionable advantage, a treasury well stored
with gold, and a coinage in good condition, produced from the mines which
he had worked in Scotland. The foreign relations of the country demanded
the utmost attention; but the long minority necessarily ensuing, as Mary,
his only surviving lawful child, was but a few days old when James died,
awakened hopes and wishes in the ambitious which superseded all other
considerations. For a time England was forgotten; and the prize of the
Regency became a bone of civil contention and discord.

There were three persons who aspired to that office, and the pretensions
of each had their supporters, as interest or reason might dictate. The
first was the Queen-Dowager, a lady who inherited many of the peculiar
virtues, as well as some of the failings, of the illustrious house of
Guise, to which she belonged. She possessed a bold and masculine
understanding, a perseverance to overcome difficulties, and a fortitude to
bear up against misfortunes, not often met with among her sex. She was
indeed superior to most of the weaknesses of the female character; and
having, from her earliest years, deeply studied the science of government,
she felt herself, so far as mere political tactics and diplomatic
acquirements were concerned, able to cope with the craftiest of the Scotch
nobility. Besides, her intimate connexion with the French court, coupled
with the interest she might naturally be supposed to take in the affairs
of a country over which her husband had reigned, and which was her
daughter's inheritance, seemed to give her a claim of the strongest kind.

The second aspirant was Cardinal David Beaton, at that time the undoubted
head of the Catholic party in Scotland. He was a man whose abilities all
allowed, and who, had he been less tinctured with severity, and less
addicted to the exclusive principles of the Church of Rome, might probably
have filled with eclat the very highest rank in the State. He
endeavoured to strengthen his title to the Regency, by producing the will
of James V. in his favour. But as this will was dated only a short while
before the King's death, it was suspected that the Prelate had himself
written it, and obtained the King's signature, at a time when his bodily
weakness had impaired his mental faculties. Beaton was, moreover, from his
violence and rigour, particularly obnoxious to all those who favoured the

James Hamilton, Earl of Arran, and next heir to the throne, was the third
candidate, and the person upon whom the choice of the people ultimately
fell. In more settled times, this choice might possibly have been
judicious; but Arran was of far too weak and irresolute a character to be
able to regulate the government with that decision and firmness which the
existing emergency required. He had few opinions of his own, and was
continually driven hither and thither by the contradictory counsels of
those who surrounded him. He had joined, however, the reformed religion;
and this, together with the inoffensive softness of his disposition, made
him, in the eyes of many, only the more fit to govern.

The annexation of Scotland to the crown of England, either by conquest or
the more amicable means of marriage, had for many years been the object
nearest the heart of Henry VIII. and several of his predecessors. That his
father, in particular, Henry VII., had given some thought to this subject,
is evident from the answer he made to such of his Privy Council as were
unwilling that he should give his daughter Margaret in marriage to James
IV., on the ground that the English Crown might, through that marriage,
devolve to a King of Scotland. "Whereunto the King made answer, and said,
'What then? for if any such thing should happen (which God forbid), yet I
see our kingdom should take no harm thereby, because England should not
be added unto Scotland, but Scotland unto England, as to the far most
noble head of the whole island; for so much as it is always so, that the
lesser is wont, for honour's sake, to be adjoined to that which is far the
greater.'" How correct Henry VII. was in his opinion, the accession of
James VI. sufficiently proved.

Henry VIII., though aiming at the same object as his father, thought it
more natural that Scotland should accept of an English, than England of a
Scottish King. Immediately, therefore, after the birth of Mary, he
determined upon straining every nerve to secure her for his son Edward.
For this purpose, he concluded a temporary peace with the Regent Arran,
and sent back into Scotland the numerous prisoners who had surrendered
themselves at Solway Moss, upon an understanding that they should do all
they could to second his views with their countrymen. His first proposals,
however, were so extravagant, that the Scottish Parliament would not
listen to them for a moment. He demanded not only that the young Queen
should be sent into England, to be educated under his own superintendance,
but that he himself, as her future father-in-law, should be allowed an
active share in the government of Scotland. Having subsequently consented
to depart considerably from the haughty tone in which these terms were
dictated, a treaty of marriage was agreed upon at the instigation of
Arran, whom Henry had won to his interests, in which it was promised, that
Mary should be sent into England at the age of ten, and that six persons
of rank should, in the mean time, be delivered as hostages for the
fulfilment of this promise.

It may easily be conceived, that whatever the Regent, together with some
of the reformed nobility and their partisans, might think of this treaty,
the Queen Mother and Cardinal Beaton, who had for the present formed a
coalition, could not be very well satisfied with it. Henry, with all the
hasty violence of his nature, had, in a fit of spleen, espoused the
reformed opinions; and if Mary became the wife of his son, it was evident
that all the interests both of the House of Guise and of the Catholic
religion in Scotland, would suffer a fatal blow. By their forcible
representations of the inevitable ruin which they alleged this alliance
would bring upon Scotland, converting it into a mere province of their
ancient and inveterate enemies, and obliging it to renounce forever the
friendship of their constant allies the French, they succeeded in
effecting a change in public opinion; and the result was, that Arran found
himself at length obliged to yield to their superior influence, to deliver
up to the Cardinal and Mary of Lorraine the young Queen, and refuse to
ratify the engagements he had entered into with Henry. The Cardinal now
carried every thing before him, having converted or intimidated almost all
his enemies. The Earl of Lennox alone, a nobleman whose pretensions were
greater than his power, could not forgive Beaton for having used him
merely as a cat's paw in his intrigues to gain the ascendency over Arran.
Lennox had himself aspired at the Regency, alleging that his title, as
presumptive heir to the Crown, was a more legitimate one than that of the
House of Hamilton, to which Arran belonged. But the still more ambitious
Cardinal flattered only to deceive him; and when Lennox considered his
success certain, he found himself farther from the object of his wishes
than ever.

Seeing every other hope vain, Lennox set on foot a secret correspondence
with Henry, promising that monarch his best support, should he determine
upon avenging the insult he had sustained, through the vacillating conduct
of the Scotch. Henry gladly availed himself of the offer, and sent a
considerable force under the Earl of Hartford to the North, by sea, which,
having landed at Leith, and plundered that place, as well as the
neighbouring city of Edinburgh, again took its departure for England,
without attempting to penetrate further into the country. This was an
unprofitable and ill-advised expedition, for it only tended to exasperate
the minds of the Scotch, without being of any service to Henry. The Earl
of Huntly well remarked concerning it, that even although he might have
had no objections to the proposed match, he had a most especial dislike to
the manner of wooing.

The Earl of Lennox now found himself deserted in the midst of his former
friends, and went prudently into voluntary exile, by retiring into
England. Here Henry, in reward of his former services, gave him his niece,
the Lady Margaret Douglas, in marriage. She was the daughter, by the
second marriage, of Henry's sister, the Lady Margaret, wife of James IV.,
who, after the King's death, espoused Archibald Earl of Angus. By this
alliance, Lennox, though it was impossible for him to foresee such a
result, became the father of Henry Darnley, and a long line of Kings.

Shortly afterwards, an event well known in Scottish history, and which was
accomplished by means only too frequently resorted to in those unsettled
times, facilitated the conclusion of a short peace with England. Cardinal
Beaton, elevated by his success, and anxious, now that all more immediate
danger was removed, to re-establish on a firmer basis the tottering
authority of the Romish Church, determined upon striking awe into the
people, by some memorable examples of severity towards heretics. About the
end of the year 1545, he made a progress through several parts of his
diocess, accompanied by the Earl of Argyle, who was then Lord Justice
General, and other official persons, for the purpose of trying and
punishing offenders against the laws of the Church. At Perth, several of
the lieges were found guilty of arguing or disputing concerning the sense
of the Holy Scriptures, in opposition to an Act of Parliament, which
forbade any such freedom of speech, and five men and one woman were
condemned to die. Great intercession was made for them, but in vain; the
men were hanged, and the woman was drowned. Still farther to intimidate
the Reformers, a yet more memorable instance of religious persecution and
cruelty was presented to them a few months afterwards. George Wishart was
at this time one of the most learned and zealous of all the supporters of
the new doctrines in Scotland. He had been educated at the University of
Cambridge, and had, in his youth, officiated as one of the masters of the
grammar school at Montrose. His talents and perseverance rendered him
particularly obnoxious to the Cardinal, who, having contrived to make him
his prisoner, carried him to his castle at St Andrews. An Ecclesiastical
Court was there assembled, at which Wishart was sentenced to be burnt. It
may give us a clearer idea of the spirit of the times, to know, that on
the day on which this sentence was to be put in execution, Beaton issued a
proclamation, forbidding any one, under pain of church censure, to offer
up prayers for so notorious a heretic. When Wishart was brought to the
stake, and after the fire had been kindled, and was already beginning to
take effect, it is said that he turned his eyes towards a window in the
castle overlaid with tapestry, at which the Cardinal was sitting, viewing
with complacency the unfortunate man's suffering, and exclaimed,--"He who,
from yonder high place, beholdeth me with such pride, shall, within few
days, be in as much shame as now he is seen proudly to rest himself."
These words, though they met with little attention at the time, were
spoken of afterwards as an evident and most remarkable prophecy.

It was not long after this martyrdom, that Cardinal Beaton was present at
the marriage of one of his own illegitimate daughters, to whom he gave a
dowry of 4000 merks, and whose nuptials were solemnized with great
magnificence. Probably he conceived, that the more heretics he burned, the
more unblushingly he might confess his own sins against both religion and
common morality.

On the prelate's return to St Andrew's, Norman Lesly, a young man of
strong passions, and eldest Son to the Earl of Rothes, came to him to
demand some favour, which the Cardinal thought proper to refuse. The
particulars of the quarrel are not precisely known, but it must have been
of a serious kind; for Lesly, taking advantage of the popular feeling
which then existed against the Cardinal, determined upon seeking his own
revenge by the assassination of Beaton. He associated with himself several
accomplices, who undertook to second him in this design. Early on the
morning of the 29th of May 1546, having entered the castle by the gate,
which was open to admit some workmen who were repairing the
fortifications, he and his assistants proceeded to the door of the
Cardinal's chamber, at which they knocked. Beaton asked,--"Who is
there?"--Norman answered,--"My name is Lesly,"--adding, that the door must
be opened to him, and those that were with him. Beaton now began to fear
the worst, and attempted to secure the door. But Lesly called for fire to
burn it, upon which the Cardinal, seeing all resistance useless, permitted
them to enter. They found him sitting on a chair, pale and agitated; and
as they approached him he exclaimed,--"I am a Priest--ye will not slay
me!" Lesly, however, losing all command of his temper, struck him more
than once, and would have proceeded to further indignities, had not James
Melville, one of the assassins, "a man," says Knox, "of nature most gentle
and most modest," drawn his sword, and presenting the point to the
Cardinal, advised him to repent of his sins, informing him, at the same
time, that no hatred he bore his person, but simply his love of true
religion induced him to take part against one whom he looked upon as an
enemy to the gospel. So saying, and without waiting for an answer, he
stabbed him twice or thrice through the body. When his friends and
servants collected without, the conspirators lifted up the deceased
Prelate, and showed him to them from the very window at which he had sat
at the day of Wishart's execution. Beaton, at the time of his death, was
fifty-two. He had long been one of the leading men in Scotland, and had
enjoyed the favour of the French King, as well as that of his own
sovereign James V. Some attempt was made by the Regent to punish his
murderers, but they finally escaped into France.

There is good reason to believe that Henry VIII. secretly encouraged Lesly
and his associates in this dishonest enterprise. But, if such be the case,
that monarch did not live long enough to reap the fruits of its success.
He died only a few months later than the Cardinal; and, about the same
time, his cotemporary, Francis I., was succeeded on his throne by his son
Henry II. These changes did not materially affect the relative situation
of Scotland. They may, perhaps, have opened up still higher hopes to the
Queen Dowager, and the French party; but, in England, the Duke of
Somerset, who had been appointed Lord Protector during the minority of
Edward VI., was determined upon following out the plans of the late
monarch, and compelling the Scotch to agree to the alliance which he had

In prosecution of his designs, he marched a powerful army into Scotland,
and the result was the unfortunate battle of Pinkie. The Earl of Arran,
whose exertions to rescue the country from this new aggression, were
warmly seconded by the people, collected a force sufficiently numerous to
enable him to meet and offer battle to Somerset. The English camp was in
the neighbourhood of Prestonpans, and the Scotch took up very advantageous
ground about Musselburgh and Inveresk. Military discipline was at that
time but little understood in this country; and the reckless impetuosity
of the Scotch infantry was usually attended either with immediate success,
or, by throwing the whole battle into confusion, with irretrievable and
signal defeat. The weapons to which they principally trusted, were, in the
first place, the pike, with which, upon joining with the enemy, all the
fore-rank, standing shoulder to shoulder together, thrust straight
forwards, those who stood in the second rank putting their pikes over the
shoulders of their comrades before them. The length of these pikes or
spears was eighteen feet six inches. They seem to have been used
principally on the first onset, and were probably speedily relinquished
for the more efficient exercise of the sword, which was broad and thin,
and of excellent temper. It was employed to cut or slice with, not to
thrust; and, in defence against any similar weapon of the enemy, a large
handkerchief was wrapt twice or thrice about the neck, and a buckler
invariably carried on the left arm.

For some days the two armies continued in sight of each other, without
coming to any general engagement. The hourly anxiety which prevailed at
Edinburgh regarding the result, may be easily imagined. To inspire the
soldiers with the greater courage, it was enacted by Government, that the
heirs of those who fell upon this occasion in defence of their country,
should for five years be free from Government taxes, and the usual
assessments levied by landlords. At length, on Saturday the 10th of
September 1547, the Scotch, misled by a motion in the English army, which
they conceived indicated a design to retreat, rashly left their superior
situation, and crossing the mouth of the Esk at Musselburgh, gave the
Protector battle in the fields of Pinkie, an adjoining country seat. They
were thus so exposed, that the English fleet, which lay in the bay, was
enabled, by firing upon their flank to do them much mischief. The Earl of
Angus, who was leading the van-guard, found himself suddenly assailed by a
flight of arrows, a raking fire from a regiment or two of foreign
fusileers, and a discharge of cannon which unexpectedly opened upon him.
Unable to advance, he attempted to change his position for a more
advantageous one. The main body imagined he was falling back upon them in
confusion; and to heighten their panic, a vigorous charge, which was at
this moment made by the English cavalry, decided the fortune of the day.
After a feeble resistance the Scotch fled towards Dalkeith, Edinburgh, and
Leith, and being hotly pursued by their enemies, all the three roads were
strewed with the dead and dying. In this battle the Earl of Arran lost
upwards of 8000 men; among whom were Lord Fleming, together with many
other Scotch noblemen and gentlemen.

The English army advanced immediately upon Leith, which they took and
pillaged; and would have entered Edinburgh, had they not found it
impossible to make themselves masters of the Castle. The fleet ravaged the
towns and villages on the coasts of the Forth, and proceeded as far north
as the River Tay, seizing on whatever shipping they could meet with in the
harbours by which they passed.

Far, however, from obtaining by these violent measures, the ultimate
object of his desires, Somerset found himself farther from his point than
ever. The Scotch, enraged against England, threw themselves into the arms
of France; and the Protector, understanding that affairs in the south had
fallen into confusion, in his absence, was obliged to return home, leaving
strong garrisons in Haddington, and one or two other places, which he had
captured. The Earl of Arran, and Mary of Guise, sent immediate
intelligence to Henry II., of all that had taken place; and, sanctioned by
the Scottish Parliament, offered to conclude a treaty of marriage between
his infant son, the Dauphin Francis, and the young Scottish Queen. They,
moreover, agreed to send Mary into France, to be educated at the French
Court, until such time as the nuptials could be solemnized. This proposal
was every way acceptable to Henry, who, like his father Francis, perfectly
understood the importance of a close alliance with Scotland, as the most
efficient means for preventing the English from invading his own
dominions. He sent over an army of 6000 men, to the aid of the Regent; and
in the same vessels, which brought these troops, Mary was conveyed from
Dumbarton into France. Henry also, with much sound policy, in order to
strengthen his interests in Scotland, bestowed, about this time, upon the
Earl of Arran, the title of the Duke of Chatelherault, together with a
pension of some value. During a period of two years, a continual series of
skirmishings were carried on between the Scotch, supported by their French
allies, and the English; but without any results of much consequence on
either side. In 1550, a general peace was concluded; and the marriage of
the Scottish Queen was never afterwards made the ground of war between the
two countries.

From this period, till Mary's return to her own country, the attention of
Scotland was entirely engrossed with its own affairs, and the various
important events connected with the rise, progress, and establishment of
the Reformation. As these effected no slight change in the political
aspect of the country, and exercised a material influence over Mary's
future destiny, it will be proper to give some account of them in this
place; and these details being previously gone through, the narrative, in
so far as regards Queen Mary, will thus be preserved unbroken.

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