Mary Queen of Scots

The Marie Stuart Society

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Mary’s Birth and Early Life

Linlithgow Palace

Linlithgow Palace

Mary Queen of Scots was born in a first floor room in the now roofless Linlithgow Palace on 8th December 1542. There is a school of thought to the effect that she was in fact born on the 7th. but that announcement of her birth was postponed for a day to fall on the day of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary after whom she was named. Whatever the actuality Mary always regarded the 8th as her date of birth.

Only about a fortnight before the event at the Battle of Solway Moss her father King James V had suffered a humiliating defeat by English forces under Oliver Sinclair after an ill-judged invasion of that country.

Following the defeat, rather than returning to Linlithgow to be with his wife in her advanced state of pregnancy, he retired to his hunting lodge at Falkland Palace in Fife and on 14th December 'turned his face to the wall, and died'.

Henry VIII of England, on hearing the news, called off the war; declaring that he would not wage war against the kingdom of a dead man and instead sought to negotiate a marriage between Mary and his son the future Edward VI, then aged five.

The Regent of Scotland, The Earl of Arrran, favoured the marriage and on 1st. July of the following year the Treaty of Greenwich was entered into agreeing the union.

However there were opposing factions in Scotland which found coherence under Cardinal Beaton who saw the marriage both as a threat both to Scottish nationality and more particularly to the Catholic religion.

Pressure was brought to bear on Arran who yielded and the Treaty of Greenwich was abrogated.

On hearing the news Henry lost patience and invaded setting in train the War known as the 'Rough Wooing'. For her own safety Mary was moved from Linlithgow to Stirling Castle where she was crowned Queen on 9th. December 1543.

The Scots suffered a number of humiliating defeats including in 1547 the Battle of Pinkie, its greatest ever such set-back where more Scots were killed even than at Flodden.

By this time Mary's mother Mary of Guise was regent and a marriage was negotiated between Mary and the future French King Francois II.


Part 2 - Growing Up in France >>