Mary Queen of

 The First Reformation – the establishment of a Protestant
religion,  was
accomplished in 1560 but there were tensions to come with
the return of the
mqos.jpg (156823 bytes)

Catholic Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots on 20 August 1561.
Having lived in France surrounded by the Guise family, the
staunchest of all the Catholic families of France, Mary
was also the widow of Francis II, the Catholic King of
France, and heiress to the English throne. She had been
educated in France under the auspices of her uncle, the
Cardinal of Lorraine, and brought up in an atmosphere of
blind commitment to the Church of Rome. It is highly
likely that every effort was made to prejudice her against
the Reformation before she returned to Scotland, and that
she had been convinced that it would be the glory of her
reign if she brought back Scotland to the obedience of
Rome. From the Catholic point of view there was a double
bonus if Mary were to succeed to the throne of England
and, in any event, a Catholic Scotland could impose itself
on England in pursuit of the greater plan of the Catholic
Behind this lay the machinations of the House of Guise,
Catherine de Medici, and the Duke of Alva, which sought to
extirpate heresy in Europe. It can be read into this that
Mary was probably prepared to sign the death warrant for
very many of her subjects as a result of her own religious

Mary might have survived in Scotland had she not so
blatantly exposed her Catholicism to the people and
wilfully disregarded good advice. She had been counselled
by the Earl of Moray not to press religion as an issue and
to contain her own practice within the bounds of her home.
But the people of Edinburgh were

aware of the furnishing of the chapel at Holyrood House
and the saying of a Mass on 24 August 1561 that prompted
rioting. The next day Mary obtained the Privy Council’s
 agreement to an Edict of Toleration proclaimed at the
Mercat Cross that allowed her choice of worship for
herself and her Court on pain of death for interfering. 

The Edict had two strands to
it.  Firstly,
the state of religion as at the time of Mary’s return to

they and everie one of them content themselves in
quietness, keep silence and civill societie among
themselves, and in the meantime, whill the estats of the
realme may be assembled , and that her Majestie have takin
a finall order by their advice , and publick consent,
which her Majestie hopeth sall be to the contentment of
the whole: That none of them tak upon hand, privatlie or
publicklie, to make anie alteratioun or innovatioun of the
estate of religioun , or attempt anie thing against the
same, which her Majestie found publicklie and universallie
standing at her Majestie’s arrival in this her realme
under paine of death…

 And secondly, as it impacted
herself and her household:  

her Majestie, with advice of her Lords of Secreit Counsell,
commands and charges all her lieges, that none of them
take upon hand to molest or trouble anie of her
domesticall servants, or persons whatsomever, come furth
of France in her Grace’s companie at this time, in word,
deed or countenance, for anie caus whatsomever, either
within the palace or without, or make anie derisioun or
invasioun upon anie of them, under whatsomever colour or
pretence, under the said paine of death  

The tenor
of the Edict applied double standards, and the
announcement that Parliament and the Queen would consider
the state of religion raised the hackles of Knox and the
faithful brethren who rightly suspected a Papal plot to
restore Catholicism. Under the wing of the Jesuit and
papal nuncio Nicolaus Floris of Gouda, the plot was for
Mary to marry a powerful Catholic able to coerce the
Protestants; appoint Catholic advisers and clergy;
establish a Catholic college, given guidance by papal
legates and have the support of Philip of Spain to
overthrow the Protestant church. This master plan devised by Floris of Gouda, was ccompanied with sneers at the ministers of the kirk
and preachers, claiming them to be illiterate tradesmen
without influence and “comfortable in the arms of
England.”  How wrong he was on all counts.

McCrie in Life of Knox
 (1855) provides
evidence, that Mary was intent on restoring Catholicism in
Scotland,  which he obtained from the letters of the
Cardinal de St. Croix in the Vatican library. This was a
report from the Grand Prior of France, Danville, (Mary’s
uncle), in December 1561, of her doings (including action
against a burgh for expelling priests).

these means she has acquired greater authority and power,
for enabling her to restore the ancient religion.”

 Intrigue and suspicion 
at the time caused the Congregation to demand that the
government take action under the royal proclamation which
forbade interference with the state of religion existing
at the time of the arrival of the Queen. They submitted a
list of forty-eight Catholics for prosecution. Significant
among these was George Gordon, Fourth Earl of Huntly, who
had enormous estates in Aberdeen and Inverness which
included the lands of the Earl of Moray. Mary was
convinced by her courtiers that she ought to intervene to
quell a dispute between the Gordons and the Ogilvies
against which Huntly rebelled and was killed in the battle
of Corrichie, 28 October 1562. A son was also executed and
another imprisoned while all the lands were forfeit to the
Crown. It is quite probable that Mary was tricked to
intervene against the staunch Catholic Huntly and realised
this soon after the event, as evidenced in her subsequent
strong defiance of the Protestant lords. The Protestants,
however, remained suspicious and entered into another Band
(the Fifth Covenant) at Ayr on 4 September 1562.

The string of
events that followed was Mary’s undoing. 
Voices were raised against her with criticism of
her headlong dash into marriage with her cousin Henry
Stuart, Lord Darnley, on Sunday, 29 July 1565. 
Lord Darnley was the eldest son of the Fourth Earl
of Lennox and, like Mary, a great-grandchild of Henry VII.
As such, he had an equal claim to the succession of the
English throne as well as a claim to the Scottish throne.
Mary’s marriage to Darnley was not approved of by Queen
Elizabeth I or her advisers who had worked hard on the
alliance with Scotland. Neither did it help that the
Lennox family had many enemies in Scotland.

Knox was a loud
voice and critic of Mary, undoubtedly having some
influence on the outcome, but she continued to press
Catholicism while her marriage was a personal and
political disaster

Also, at the General Assembly
that met on 25 December 1565, Mary emphatically stated
that she would not ratify the establishment of the
Protestant Church nor abjure her own Catholicism. This
prompted great fear among the Congregation and a fast was
declared. And, finally, a string of almost perverse events
fell Mary’s way as a result of Darnley’s erratic
Although “King,” he failed to turn up at Privy Councils
and was seldom available to sign Acts. In respect of the latter, the Queen`s Secretary David Riccio was given a copy of Darnley`s seal which he used to endorse documents. Given to spending
his time carousing and whoring among the low life of
Edinburgh, Darnley also intrigued with the Lords of the
Congregation. He signed a Band at Newcastle on 2 March
1566 which convinced many of them to return from exile in
the expectation that Darnley would replace Mary on the
throne.  There followed what appeared to be a
connected incident with the murder of
David Rizzio  and the death
(murder) of Darnley.

In a subsequent and bizarre
event Bothwell carried off Queen Mary to Dunbar Castle on
24 April 1567 where she remained, apparently a not
unwilling prisoner. At the General Assembly on 30 December
1567 John Craig responded to an admonishment for declaring
the marriage banns of the Queen and Bothwell that

Justice Clerk brought me ane writing subscryved with her
hand, bearing in effect that she was neither ravished nor
yet retained in captivitie and, therefore, charged me to

 Mary and
Bothwell were strongly suspected of complicity in the murder of Darnley. Indeed such was the demand that Bothwell was summoned to an Assize charged with the murder, but the carefully selected jury found him not guilty. His elevation to Duke of Orkney and
Zetland, and the subsequent marriage with Mary on 15 May 1567,
confirmed all the suspicions in the eyes of the people. 
There quickly followed a change of government and
the Protestant noblemen who had taken refuge in England
were restored. After a bloodless encounter at
Carberry Hill on 15 June
1567, Bothwell fled to Norway and eventual imprisonment in
Denmark for the rest of his days. Mary became another
Scottish sovereign whose Crown passed to a child, in her
case she was forced to abdicate in favour of her
one-year-old son, James VI.

Mary subsequently
made a dash for freedom from her prison at Lochleven and,
with a dwindling group of faithful supporters, made a
final stand at Langside on 13
May 1568. Here she was again deserted by fortune and
forced to make an overnight dash for the Solway Firth and
escape into England (and exile).

 The General Assembly must
have been conversant with the pending forced abdication.
On the previous day, 23 July 1567, they specifically
called for the nobility, barons, and others to maintain
and defend the Prince. They also notably declared about
the commitment of kings and princes to Presbyterianism:

That all kings, princes and
magistrates, whilk hereafter in any tyme to come shall
happen to reigne and bear rule over this realme, their
first intres before they be crowned and inaugarat, shall
make their faithfull league and promise to the trew Kirk
of God that they shall maintaine and defend, and be all
lawfull means sett forward the trew religion of Jesus
Christ, presently professed and established within this

 In the aftermath
of Mary’s machinations, the Scottish Parliament met and
passed an Act on 15 December 1567 that confirmed the
so-called national “Establishment” of the Protestant
religion in Scotland. This recognised
Presbyterianism as the official Church in Scotland, but
did not create it nor commit the state to supporting it
There was, however, a downside as the Parliament altered
the provisions of the Book of Discipline by reserving the
appointments of ministers through a patron to the “ancient
patrons”—the nobles who were jealously guarding their
ancient rights and control over church lands. This vexed
issue of patronage was one that would rear its head
again and again.

Throughout her nineteen years in exile, Mary Queen of
Scots was a shadow in the background for James who was
soon alienated from his mother. She disowned him and he
only made a political gesture when it became apparent that
she might be executed. The hardest decision was that of
Queen Elizabeth I who was petitioned by Parliament 22
November 1586 calling for a “just and speedy execution 
of the said Queen.” 
Elizabeth replied on November 24 asking the
Parliament to try to find a different solution but they
again insisted on execution. Elizabeth then wrote what
must be the classic sitting on the fence reply : 

“If I should say unto you that I mean not
to grant your petition, by my faith I should say unto you
more than perhaps I mean. And if I say unto you I mean to
grant your petition, I should then tell you more than is
fit for you to know. And thus I must deliver you an
answer, answerless. 

 The exiled Mary, Queen of
Scots, gained a few more months of life before it was
ended on the executioner`s block on 8 February 1568 at

Next: James VI, King of Scotland