Mary, Queen of Scots, Facts for Kids

  • Mary, Queen of Scots, became the Scottish queen in 1542 when she was a newborn baby.
  • Her marriage to Francis II of France sparked a war with England.
  • She was beheaded by Elizabeth I in 1587.

Mary, Queen of Scots, is Born

Mary was born to King James V of Scotland and Mary of Guise. They had two sons before Mary’s birth, but both perished in the first hours of life within hours of each other in 1541. Keep reading to learn more Mary, Queen of Scots facts.

James was defeated in a battle when Mary was born. He went home to bed with a high fever.

King James was very sad when he heard that his wife had given birth to a daughter. He wanted a son, but instead, she gave birth to a daughter. The king thought that the Stuart dynasty would end here.

King James V died on the sixth day, and baby Mary became queen. The infant was immediately acknowledged as Queen of Scotland by the regency council.  The baby queen was formally crowned.

Mary’s Childhood

England and France wanted Mary to marry someone from their country. They wanted her to marry royalty so they could control Scotland.

Mary’s uncle, King Henry VIII of England, arranged for her to marry his son Edward. This would have united Scotland and England.

However, many Scots did not like this treaty. And they did not keep their promise. Henry was angry, and he sent his army to attack Scotland. This plan was called the Rough Wooing.

The French helped the Scots fight the English. They agreed that Mary would marry the Dauphin, who was the eldest son of the French king. When Mary was six years old, she went to France.

Mary, Queen of Scots, also known as Mary Stuart or Mary I of Scotland, was Queen of Scotland from 14 December 1542 until her forced abdication in 1567.

Mary was reared in palaces belonging to the royal family of France. She became very fond of Elizabeth.

Mary learned French, Italian, Spanish, and Latin. She was also educated in sewing, poetry writing, and music playing. In the French countryside, Mary enjoyed riding and hunting.

Mary, Queen of Scots: First Marriage

Mary was 15 when she married the Dauphin, who was called Francis. They got married in Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris.

One year later, King Henri died. Then Mary became Queen of Scotland and France. But she was not Queen for long. Francis got sick and died. That meant that the crown went to Francis’ younger brother.

Mary’s mother ruled Scotland when her father died. When her mother also died, she went back to Scotland. She sailed into Leith.

Mary wore a dark dress for her husband and mother and then went to the palace in a huge processional. The streets were lined with people who cheered for her.

Mary, Queen of Scots: Second Marriage

For the next several years, Mary was busy governing Scotland. The royal court had to go throughout the nation, meeting with officials.

Mary loved horseback riding, dancing, and hunting. She also enjoyed playing sports and would compete in tennis when she was at Falkland Palace.

Mary wanted to remarry to produce an heir to the Scottish throne, and as a result, she married her cousin Lord Darnley. Many princes, lords, and barons sought after her hand; however, she met her distant relative Lord Darnley.

Mary loved him because he was tall, ambitious, and good-looking. They married at Holyroodhouse.

Some people didn’t like her choice. Elizabeth I, Queen of England, saw this as an attempt by Mary to make herself stronger and try to take the English throne.

Darnley married Mary because he wanted to be a king. But she had all the power and kept it. He was irate about this.

Treason and Murder of Mary, Queen of Scots

After spending a lot of time together, Lord Darnley became jealous of Mary’s friend and counselor, David Riccio.

Mary was eating supper with Riccio and a few friends in Holyroodhouse one night when Darnley and Lord Ruthven, angry and other conspirators, burst into her chamber. The conspirators killed Riccio that night.

Mary and Darnley had a baby 3 months later. They called him James.

The baby was baptized in the Catholic faith. This caused alarm among Protestants.

Darnley was ill for a few days at a home near Edinburgh shortly after the birth of his son. Mary nursed him for a few days, but one night she decided to go out.

The house was blown up shortly after she had departed. Darnley and his servant were discovered dead in the garden.

At the time, some people thought that Mary was involved. Others felt that the Earl of Bothwell and other conspirators had intended to destroy the house as part of a plot.

Many queries were posed to Bothwell by the Scottish Parliament, but he was not charged with the murders. We still do not know who Darnley’s murderers were.

Mary’s Third Marriage

Mary was not popular after Darnley died. She played golf at St Andrew’s very soon after his death, which made people mad.

Mary married Bothwell after three months of her husband’s death. This surprised many people in Scotland. They thought that she was forced to marry him, but other people disagreed and said she wanted to marry him too.

The Protestants united to fight against Mary and her partner, Bothwell. They met at the Battle of Carberry Hill.

Marie surrendered, her troops fled, and Bothwell ran away too. They took Mary as a prisoner to Lochleven Castle.

Bothwell was captured and put in prison. He was chained to a post that was shorter than him, so he could not stand up. He stayed there for 10 years until he died.

Mary in Prison

Mary was put in a tower with not enough room. Mary had to give up on her kingdom, and her son became king.

Her son James was being taken care of by the Earl of Mar. Mary had a miscarriage with twins from Lord Bothwell.

She had help from a servant when she tried to escape. She got disguised in clothing for the servant, and she made it to the boat. George Douglas was waiting for her onshore with horses.

Mary managed to raise an army. But she was defeated by her Scottish enemies at the Battle of Langside. She fled to England and asked Queen Elizabeth I for help.

Mary and Elizabeth I

Elizabeth was the granddaughter of Henry VII and the daughter of Henry VIII of England and Anne Boleyn. Mary was also related to the English royals. She was the great-granddaughter of Henry VII.

Elizabeth was Protestant, and Mary was Catholic. Because it was a Protestant wedding, many Catholics were opposed to Elizabeth’s parents’ marriage. They believed that Mary should have been queen instead of Elizabeth.

When Elizabeth became queen, she knew that she had a lot of people who did not like her because she was Protestant and they were Catholic.

The Catholic Church thought that Elizabeth was not the rightful heir of England. They said that her mother had an unlawful marriage. But they thought Mary, Henry VIII’s older sister’s daughter, would be better to rule after hearing about their bloodline.

Mary was put in jail because Elizabeth thought that she had killed Darnley. Mary was kept prisoner in many different castles and grand houses for nearly 19 years. Elizabeth treated her well but always had her guarded carefully. They never met.

In jail, Mary had servants. She enjoyed things like embroidery and cards. She would have visitors and sometimes pets. But she wanted to be free and to see her son again.

Mary was not allowed to write letters because people wanted her to be free. But in 1585, she found a way to send letters in a barrel full of beer.

A man named Sir Anthony Babington wrote to Mary and suggested that Elizabeth should be killed and that the Catholic religion should come back and then Mary could become Queen of England.

Mary agreed to this, but it was a trick set up by Elizabeth’s spymaster.

Trial and Execution

After a long line of Roman Catholic conspiracies against Elizabeth, her ministers demanded Mary’s execution. They said: “so long as there is life in her, there is hope; so as they live in hope, we live in fear.” 

Mary’s trial was for high treason. She was found guilty. She was to be beheaded at Fotheringhay Castle.

Mary was in black clothes with a white veil. She also had a crucifix and a book. People prayed for her. When she took off her clothes, she had red underwear, the color of martyrs who die when they go to heaven.

Mary Tudor and Mary, Queen of Scots, had a lot in common. They were both Catholic. Both Marys were Tudors, and they both had major problems with Elizabeth I. However, as opposed to the name Bloody Mary used for Mary Tudor, the other Mary is known as Queen of Scots.

The Crowns Unite

Queen Elizabeth I of England died and had no children. Mary’s son, James VI of Scotland, also became King James I of England. This means that the crowns of Scotland and England were finally united.

The two parliaments remained divided. Mary’s body was transferred to Westminster Abbey, where it would be buried alongside kings and queens. 

Read more about the Elizabethian Era


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