The murder of David Riccio

The relationship between Darnley and Mary deteriorated quite soon after their marriage. Darnley wanted influence in decision-making – ‘the crown matrimonial’ – and Mary refused to give it to him.

Scottish nobles persuaded Darnley that David Riccio, an Italian who became the Queen’s secretary, was too close to Mary and there were rumours of a relationship between them.

Darnley was enraged by this and by the way in which Riccio himself was enjoying his status within the royal household. While some nobles saw him as a spy sent by the Pope, others simply wanted to create trouble between Mary and her husband.

A plot was hatched by Darnley’s aides, Morton, Lindsay and the Ruthvens to kill Riccio.

In March 1566, in the presence of a pregnant Mary, the murderers burst into Mary’s chambers and stabbed Riccio to death.

Mary looked on helplessly and in fear of her own life later escaped with her husband.

Darnley’s dagger, the murder weapon, was found at the scene, incriminating its owner. Mary never forgave him for his part in this plot.

Siobhon Redmond describes Mary's difficulties with Lord Darnley, the Chaseabout raid and the murder of David Riccio in the video below.