Mary Stuart (8 December 1542 – 8 February 1587) was Queen regnant of Scotland from 14 December 1542 to 24 July 1567. In some lists of Scottish monarchs, she is recognised as Mary I.
Mary, Queen of Scots (reigned 1542–1567) and first visited Loch Leven Castle in 1565 as a guest of Sir William Douglas of Lochleven. She held an interview here with the Calvinist preacher John Knox.
Mary Queen of Scots Coin of 1553: Mary shilling
Mary returned to Loch Leven as a prisoner, from 17 June 1567 until her escape on 2 May 1568. At the “battle” of Carberry Hill on 15 June, Mary surrendered to her noblemen, who opposed her marriage to the Earl of Bothwell. She was taken to Loch Leven and given into the custody of Sir William Douglas of Lochleven, spending most of her captivity living in the early 16th-century Glassin Tower, at the south-east corner of the castle. Mary fell ill on arrival, and sometime before 24 July she miscarried twins. Only a few days later she was forced to abdicate as Queen of Scots, in favour of her infant son James. On the night of the escape, Willie Douglas stole the keys and let Mary, dressed as a servant, out of the castle. She was rowed across the lake to where George Douglas and others awaited her, and they fled to Niddry Castle in Lothian.
Loch Leven Castle
Mary was put on trial for treason by a court of about 40 noblemen, after being implicated in the Babington Plot by her own letters, which Sir Francis Walsingham had arranged to come straight to his hands. From these letters it was clear that Mary had sanctioned the attempted assassination of Elizabeth. Mary denied this and was spirited in her defence. One of her more memorable comments from her trial was:
“Look to your consciences and remember that the theater of the whole world is wider than the kingdom of England”.
She drew attention to the fact that she was denied the opportunity to review the evidence or her papers that had been removed from her, that she had been denied access to legal counsel and that she had never been an English subject and thus could not be convicted of treason. The extent to which the plot was fabricated by Sir Francis Walsingham and the English Secret Services remains open to conjecture.
Mary was convicted of treason and was sentenced to beheading.
Tomb of Mary at Westminster Abbey Mary’s Royal arms c.1565
Mary’s personal breviary, which she took with her to the scaffold, is preserved in the National Library of Russia of St. Petersburg.
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