Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots

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During the Elizabethan Era, there were many famous rulers. One of the most famous rulers of that time was Mary Stuart. Mary Stuart was the queen of four different nations which were Scotland, France, England, and Ireland and was described as one of the most controversial monarchs of the 16th century Europe because of her royal parents, her problematic love life, her regime in Scotland which ended in a civil war, her association with many conspiracies to remove Queen Elizabeth I, her cousin, from the English throne, and her death (English History).

King James V of Scotland and Mary of Guise, his wife, were the parents of Mary Stuart (Shostak 225). She was born on December 8, 1542 in the village known as Linlithgow (eHistory). Her mother had powerful ties to the French throne and her father’s uncle was King Henry VIII of England (Lesoine). Since her two older brothers died before she was born, she was next in line to inherit the throne. King James V died before Mary was a week old, making her the queen of Scotland at the age of six days (Shostak 225).

Because France helped the Scottish liberate themselves from the English, Mary was sent to France to marry Francis II, the Dauphin, when she was six. English History states, According to most contemporaries, they were close and affectionate with one another even as children. They traveled from one royal palace to another - Fountaineblea to Meudon, or to Chambord or Saint-Germain. They were always attended to by a retinue of servants and, even then, Mary had developed a fondness for animals, especially dogs, which was to continue throughout her life. Mary was also educated in the traditional manner of French princesses; she spoke French and learned Latin, Italian, Spanish and a little Greek. She learned to dance, sing, play the lute as well as converse on religious matters. Mary had a wonderful childhood with Francis, but unfortunately her happiness did not last long. Mary was the queen of Scotland and Ireland, but became queen of another country. King Henry II of France died in July 1559, leaving Mary and Francis to become the queen and king of France. Her mother died six months later in Scotland (English History). Mary was now the queen of three significant countries. On December 5, 1560 King Francis II died from ear infection only one year after inheriting the throne (English History). Shostak comments, “Mary Stuart was now both an orphan and a widow” (227). This must have made Mary very distraught. After Queen Mary I of England died, it was unclear as to who was going to rule England. According to Shostak, many believed Mary should be queen while others believed Elizabeth should rule England. Although Henry VII did not receive permission from the pope to divorce Catherine of Aragon, he married Anne Boleyn, his mistress, and had Elizabeth. The Catholic Church had strict rules about divorce: “Since the Catholic Church did not consider this second marriage legal, Catholic rulers and nobles said that Elizabeth should not be able to inherit the English throne” (Shostak 227). This caused problems for Mary and Elizabeth throughout their lives. Since Mary had been away from Scotland for thirteen years, she decided to return home and rule it properly. When Mary was a child, the Catholics had been in power. While Mary was in France, Elizabeth helped the Protestants in Scotland gain more power. Elizabeth felt threatened when Mary arrived in Scotland. Elizabeth believed that if Mary gained enough support from other Catholic countries, then they would try to overthrow her and make Mary the queen of England (Shostak 227). Mary was able to rule for seven years without any opposition even though the Protestant nobles did not approve of a Catholic queen. Shostak states, “Realizing that any actions to challenge Protestant authority might jeopardize her rule, she declared that she would not demand any changes to the new Protestant religion, but she insisted on having Catholic Mass said...
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