Mary is executed

Mary was put on trial, found guilty of treason and was executed on 8 February 1587 at Fotheringhay Castle. The executioner held up her severed head and shouted “God save the Queen”.

Elizabeth’s reaction to Mary’s execution

Elizabeth had always believed that executing Mary would lead to bigger problems, such as an international backlash, which is why she held off executing her for so long. When Mary was found guilty of treason, Elizabeth hesitated to sign her death warrant. When she eventually did sign, she refused to submit it, but her secretary secretly took it. When Elizabeth found out, she was furious and he was put in the Tower for 18 months. Elizabeth wrote to King James apologising for the death of his mother, Mary.

Consequences of Mary’s death

The consequences of Mary Queen of Scot's execution in France, Spain, Scotland and England

As it turned out the consequences were not as serious as Elizabeth had feared:

  • France - fearing the might of Spain, they wanted to maintain their alliance with England.
  • Spain - were already at war with England due to the action of the ‘Sea Dogs’ and events in the Netherlands.
  • Scotland - King James VI was on the throne of Scotland, he was Elizabeth’s heir and so he took no action.
  • EnglishCatholics - remained loyal to Elizabeth.