Mary Stuart was born at Linlithgow Palace in 1542. Her father James V, the King of Scotland died only days later. She became Queen of Scots at six days old and was crowned at Stirling Castle the following year. Other people, known as Regents, ruled Scotland on Mary's behalf until she grew up. When Mary was a child the English King, Henry VIII and later his son, Edward, repeatedly attacked Scotland. They wanted to force the Scots to agree to a marriage between Mary and Edward. When Mary was five, her French mother sent her to France for her own safety.
Mary was brought up by the French Royal family and she married the French Prince or Dauphin, Francis, when she was fifteen. When Francis became King, she also became Queen of France. Francis however died from an ear infection the following year. Mary was no longer Queen of France and she returned to rule Scotland.
Shortly before her return the Scottish Lords had changed the official religion of Scotland from Roman Catholicism to Protestantism. Mary was a Roman Catholic and she refused to give up her religion, this annoyed the Lords. They also didn't like Mary being in charge as they wanted power for themselves.
Mary struggled to keep her divided country together and made a very bad choice for her second husband; Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. Although he and Mary did have a son called James, Mary soon decided he was not fit to rule the country and refused to grant him the crown matrimonial. This meant if Mary died he would not remain King. Darnley started to plot against Mary, but Mary's supporters got to him first. He was blown up in an explosion outside Edinburgh, at a place known as Kirk O'Field. Darnley's murder horrified some of the Scottish Lords and many thought Mary was to blame.
James Hepburn, the Earl of Bothwell, one of Mary's supporters, then kidnapped Mary and persuaded her to marry him. Mary's marriage to Bothwell further angered the Scottish Lords. They didn't want the power-hungry Bothwell as King. The Scottish Lords raised an army and met Mary and Bothwell's army at Carberry Hill, outside Edinburgh. The Lords demanded Mary give up Bothwell and in return they would allow her to remain Queen. Bothwell disappeared but instead of being treated as Queen, Mary was held prisoner at Loch Leven Castle. At Loch Leven, the Lords forced Mary to abdicate, and she gave up her throne for James. She then escaped from Loch Leven and gathered an army to fight her enemies. Mary's army was badly defeated at Langside, on the outskirts of Glasgow and she fled to England, hoping to get help from Queen Elizabeth I.
Elizabeth didn't know what to do with Mary. Mary had a claim to the English throne as she was related to the English Royal family. As a Roman Catholic many, including the Pope, thought she was the rightful Queen rather than Elizabeth who was Protestant. Elizabeth was scared to let Mary go free in case she attempted to take her throne. The new rulers of Scotland also supported Elizabeth, she didn't want to upset them by letting Mary go free. So Mary was held prisoner in England for almost 19 years. Her fate was decided when letters were intercepted revealing Mary was involved in a plot to escape and have Elizabeth killed. Mary was beheaded at Fotheringhay Castle on 8th February 1587. She died aged 44.
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