Mary Stuart was born on 8th December 1542 in Linlithgow Palace, the only child of James V of Scotland and Mary of Guise. Her father died shortly after when Mary was just 6 days old. This cover features a portrait of Mary and a painting of Linlithgow Palace, and has a Scottish regional definitive stamp and special thistle postmark, dated on the day of her birth.
- 475th Anniversary of the Birth & Accession of Mary Queen of Scots
- Cover features a painting of Linlithgow Palace
- Along with a portrait of Mary
- With a Scottish regional definitive stamp
- And a special thistle postmark (8th December, 2017)
475th Anniversary of the Birth and Accession of Mary Queen of Scots
Aged 5 Mary was betrothed to Prince Edward, only son of Henry VIII, but that agreement was broken. Conscious of the benefits of an alliance with France, the Scots betrothed the young queen to Francis, the four-year-old French Dauphin, and sent Mary to be raised at the court of Henry II. In April 1558, the young couple married and Francis ascended the throne in 1559, only to die from an ear infection the following year leaving Mary a widow at just 18.
She returned to Scotland a Catholic monarch in a Protestant country and accepting the Protestant-led government, agreed to rule with moderation although constantly eyed with suspicion. In 1565, she married her cousin the Earl of Darnley. Their relationship quickly broke down, although they conceived an heir, and as her pregnancy progressed, Darnley spent less time with Mary. She became increasingly close to her advisor, the Earl of Bothwell and her Italian secretary David Rizzio. In March 1566 Darnley and a group of Protestant nobles brutally murdered Rizzio, whom they claimed, to gain influence at court, was having an affair with Mary. After the birth of their son, James, in June 1566, Darnley and Mary’s relationship was in steep decline. In February 1567, there was an explosion at the house where Darnley was staying. His body was found outside, suggesting he had escaped the blast but had then been murdered.
Mary waited just three months before marrying Bothwell, who was the chief suspect in Darnley’s murder. In doing so, Mary turned the Scottish nobility against her. Bothwell was exiled and Mary forced to abdicate in July 1567, in favour of her 1 year old son. She was imprisoned in Lochleven Castle, until she escaped in 1568, only for her army to be defeated at the Battle of Langside.
Left with no where to turn, Mary fled to England to seek refuge from her cousin, Elizabeth I, whom she hoped would support her cause. By arriving in England, Mary put Elizabeth in a difficult position. Mary had a strong claim to the English throne, so Elizabeth had her imprisoned. Over the next 19 years, Mary was the focus of numerous Catholic plots to assassinate the protestant Elizabeth and put her on the English throne, but Mary could never be implicated. However in 1586, Mary directly corresponded in a plot to depose Elizabeth. This was to be her downfall. The letters were intercepted by Elizabeth’s spymaster Francis Walsingham which convinced Elizabeth of Mary’s threat. Mary was tried for treason and condemned to death in October 1586. Elizabeth was in anguish over signing the death warrant of another annointed queen, but eventually Mary was executed at Fotheringhay Castle, on 8 February 1587 aged 44.
Mary’s son James went on to succeed Elizabeth in 1603. In 1612 he had his mother’s body exhumed from Peterborough Cathedral and placed in the vault of King Henry VII’s Chapel in Westminster Abbey.