Today on December 8, 1542, Mary Queen of Scots was born and would ascend to the throne only six days later.
Mary Stuart, commonly known as Mary Queen of Scots, was born at Linlithgow Palace in Scotland. At the time, she was the only legitimate, surviving heir of King James V of Scotland. Mary’s two older brothers, Robert and James, had both prematurely died before she was born. She succeeded her father as Queen of Scotland only six days later because of his sudden and unexpected death. Scotland’s nobles arranged for her to marry Francis II, the Dauphin of France when she was five years old. As a result, Mary was immediately shipped off to France where she spent most of her childhood. Regents were appointed to rule over the kingdom in her absence.
Mary experienced a wonderful upbringing, enjoying the many luxuries of living in the French court. In 1558, she married Francis and became queen consort after her husband was crowned King of France. However, Francis died shortly after becoming king due to an ear infection. Mary decided to return to Scotland and assume her rightful place on the throne. She next married her first cousin, Henry Stewart, the Earl of Darnley. Her second husband was a very ambitious man who quickly became a political liability. His erratic behavior raised eyebrows across the Scottish nobility. The couple did have one son together, James VI, who eventually became the first to reign as King of Scotland and England. However, Darnley was mysteriously killed by an explosion outside of Edinburgh; foul play was suspected.
Turmoil just seemed to follow Mary and her political enemies had her captured and imprisoned. Under immense pressure, they forced her to abdicate the throne in favor of her infant son. She managed to temporarily escape and raise an army to overthrow the nobles but was swiftly defeated. Mary asked her first cousin, Elizabeth I of England, to assist her in retaking the throne. However, Elizabeth strongly distrusted her and eventually had her executed for treason. Mary is remembered as a controversial monarch who undoubtedly suffered through a life of constant struggle and tragedy.
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