A bit of history on Mary, Queen of Scots

Dramaturgical notes on Mary Stuart

Six days before the death of her father, James V, (after battle with the English in southern Scotland) Mary Stuart was born on December 8th 1542, in the great royal palace of Linlithgow in Scotland. She was his sole legitimate heir. The infant was crowned Queen of Scots in 1543.

At that time there was a lot of unrest in Scotland, what with the English attacks and the strong support many of the Scottish lords were giving the new Protestantism. Her mother, the French Mary of Guise, decided to send her infant daughter to France for safety and the comfort of her own family in 1548, while she stayed in Scotland as the Regent. Mary passed her childhood in France; she was educated by French scholars and musicians, spoke a variety of languages with French being the language she preferred, wrote poetry, danced, played the lute, and was a master embroiderer. She was talented, accomplished, and beautiful. As planned, in 1558, she married the fifteen year old Dauphin, who became king the following year. Now she was queen of Scotland and France.

Sadly widowed less than two years later, she returned to Scotland as its queen after an absence in France of thirteen years. When she arrived in Edinburgh in 1561 to take the throne she was a naive, Roman Catholic nineteen-year-old with no prejudice against those who preferred the reformed faith. She was unaware of the power of the new Reformation that was to lead to civil war, an eventual  Protestant coup, a humiliating “trial” and her own abdication in 1567.

Unfortunately, her reign and life itself brought her tragedy: the murder of  her beloved friend Rizzio in front of her eyes, the subsequent murder of her second husband, Darnley, the exiling of Bothwell, her third husband, and suspect in the abusive Darnley’s murder, the birth of her son, James, who was taken from her to be brought up in the  Protestant faith, and a constitutional revolution ending in a deposed Mary.

She finally decided to throw herself upon the mercy of her cousin and rival, Elizabeth in England. The year was 1568. Unfortunately, Mary survived religious revolt and political opposition in her native land only to be denied her eventual freedom and was imprisoned as a threat to Elizabeth at age 25.  Mary requested many times to meet with Elizabeth face to face to explain her case. This never happened.

Finally,  after 19 years later in prison, at the age of forty four, Mary experienced her violent death, brought about  by her rival and “sister”,  Elizabeth, Queen of England.

Written by Dorothy Sermol (mother of Luisa, who plays the title role in Mary Stuart)

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