Perhaps your love life is not going the way you hoped and you
Mary, Queen of Scots ~ Unknown Artist ~ National Portrait Gallery, London
are feeling a little sorry for yourself. Maybe you are thinking relationships worked better in the past and this just is not your decade or century or millennium. Or perhaps you feel the deck was stacked against you. If you had been more beautiful, everything would have gone better. Or maybe being born in a rich family and wearing great clothes would have made your love life come together.
I am here to tell you: It is never perfect. The Queen of Scotland was classically beautiful, born into a rich family, and wore all the latest French styles. Her love life was definitely no fairytale. It was more like an episode of Game of Thrones.
In 1561, Mary, Queen of Scots returned to her native Scotland from France, after leaving in her childhood due to political unrest. She is 17 and known throughout Europe as a great beauty with many vying for her hand in marriage. She eventually marries Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. He is one of the few men who is taller than her and some believe she cannot resist his charm and handsome countenance. Unfortunately, she soon learns of the character behind this appealing exterior. Darnley is a philandering, scheming, alcoholic with royal aspirations. In her frustration and sadness, Mary’s friendship with her private secretary, David Rizzio, deepens. Darnley suspects the worst and is enraged. As a consequence, at a small dinner party, hosted by the queen, a group of noblemen drag Rizzio away and murder him in cold blood, leaving a shattered Mary behind.
The Murder of David Rizzio ~ Artist: William Allan ~ National Gallery of Scotland
The following year an explosion rocks Edinburgh and Lord Darnley’s residence is completely destroyed. He and his valet are later found partially naked and strangled outside the rubble. There is much conjecture regarding James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell (a close friend and suspected paramour of Mary) and his part in the plot.
The events of the following months are unclear and their details depend upon the motives of the teller. Historians do agree that Mary left with Bothwell and they had sexual relations. Some believe Bothwell seized Mary, ravished her, and forced her into marriage as a power move for the crown. Others believe the two were lovers and she consented to leaving with him, leading to further questions regarding her involvement in the plot killing Darnley.
Whatever the reasons, the Lords of Scotland were outraged by the course of events and demanded for Mary's abdication. She and Bothwell met them on the battlefield in the Carberry Hill Confrontation. She realized they could not win and surrendered, some believe, in exchange for Bothwell’s safe passage. The two never saw each other again. She was held captive for the next 20 years and later executed. Bothwell was captured and languished in a Danish prison until his death in 1578.
Edinburgh City Chambers tablet ~ Photographer: Kim Traynor ~Creative Commons Attribution Share
The tablet reads:
On this site stood the lodging of Sir Simon Preston of Craigmillar, Provost of the City of Edinburgh 1566-7; in which lodging Mary Queen of Scotland after her surrender to the Confederate Lords at Carberry Hill spent her last night in Edinburgh, 15th June 1567. On the following evening she was conveyed to Holyrood and thereafter to Lochleven Castle as a state prisoner.
So when you are sick of the dating scene, think about Mary, Queen of Scots. Contemporaries considered her the most beautiful royal in Europe, many men wanted her, and she had all the privilege accompanying her royal status. However, her love life was more synonymous with the implications of the Game of Thrones threat “Winter is coming” than any fairytale.