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Mary Queen of Scots

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Lord Bothwell
Fact Files | Biographies | The Earl of Bothwell

The Earl of Bothwell

Born c. 1535 and died in 1578. Bothwell, James Hepburn, was the third and final husband of Mary.

Bothwell is often depicted as a brutal, ruthless and ambitious man. He is suspected of having murdered Mary's husband, Darnley. He is also accused of kidnapping Mary, raping her, and forcibly marrying her in order to be King of Scotland. The question remains as to how involved Mary was in his schemes and activities.

Before Darnley's death, Bothwell had become a close and trusted advisor to Mary. This led some to believe that they were, in fact, lovers.

One theory suggests Mary and Bothwell acted together to rid themselves of the Darnley. They then arranged a way in which Mary could marry him without compromising her honour - the "he made me do it" line of thought.

In 1567 Mary arranged an obviously rigged trial to acquit him of Darnley's murder.

In May of the same year he divorced his wife and, in the same month, married Mary.

Bothwell's deeply unpopular marriage to Mary was the final act that pushed the nobles into open revolt. They did not want him as king.

Bothwell fled Scotland and escaped to Denmark. Always unlucky in love, Bothwell was recognised by a Danish former girlfriend who had him arrested for refusing to marry her!

He was captured while trying to raise a force to help Mary regain control of Scotland.

He spent his final years in Dragsholm Castle, chained to a post half his height and died, insane and miserable, in 1578. His body was later preserved and put on display in a glass case!

See the Darnley biography in the fact file for more information on Lord Darnley.

Lord Bothwell

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