Transcript for HoS 45

So ladies and Gentlemen, we have arrived at one of THE stories of Scottish History, nay British History, nay European history. The story of Mary Queen of Scots, a story which would have been a bit unbelievable if you met it in a work of fiction. And yet – it’s true! Or some of it’s true. I have to say that embarking on a history of Mary is reasonably terrifying, and I shall tell you why. Firstly, because she’s such a well known figure, the subject of romantic fiction and national feeling, and I am an evil Englishman. As a youff, we had a Scottish music teacher who taught us no music whatsoever, but gave us a pretty solid introduction to the Scottish view of their national story. We liked him because we could get some kip and discuss the weekend’s footie. And secondly because getting a fix on her story is tricky; the dial of opinion about Mary has wandered all over the place, from absolute zero to 451 Farenheit, and I am not even joking. And the context in which her reign has been considered has almost gone full circle.  While she was still alive, John Knox, as I may have mentioned too many times now, railed against the idea of a woman being the country’s governor

‘For their sight in ciuile regiment, is but blindnes: their strength, weaknes: their counsel, foolishenes: and judgement, phrenesie, if it be rightlie considered.’

He said, and considered Mary’s rule as against nature, and insult to God, and a reversal of the natural order of things. So, not a fan then.

Meanwhile some of the most recent research and work has looked at gender in a rather different way; one of the most recent popular biographies, Rival Queens by Kate Williams is part of modern thread which debates how gender affected attitudes to Mary, and particularly her relationship with Bothwell.

Mary’s reputation started off on the wrong foot during her lifetime, with the help of one George Buchanan. George Buchanan, I am reliably informed, was a poet and humanist of European renown. I say reliably informed because I have not read more than a few lines of George’s work, and do not have the ability to evaluate material written in medieval Latin. Still, if I were to quote Chaucer as a great poet, I would have no idea of a frame of reference either, but I believe it, because people with large brains have studied the guy. So it is with Buchanan. His influence is important. In much of his earlier career, he appears to be at Mary’s side; he was part of Mary’s court, and a prestigious part of it too – his reputation adding lustre and weight, in a psychological rather than physical sense I assume. He would read Livy to Mary and tutor her, and worked hard in praise of the queen to land her patronage. So, it might be expected that he was on team Mary.

Well you would be wrong to so think. After Darnley’s murder, Buchanan does his very best to destroy Mary’s reputation; he helps construct a dossier as dodgy as anything to do with WMDs, which was used to accuse Mary of being responsible for Darnley’s murder. He painted a picture of Mary as prey to her lusts and foolishness, of leaping into Bothwell’s arms as soon as she could. His ‘history of Scotland’ was then published in 1582 which continued to spread this anti-Mary story.

The motivation for Buchanan’s volte face is not clear, but probably comes from a combination of factors that are common to many of the other issues of Mary’s reign. So, Buchanan came from an impoverished lairdly family from the Clyde area, which was Lennox territory. So the death of Darnley, a Lennox of course, was devastating to him; and illustrates the strength of local and factional feeling. It is possible that religion played a part – Buchanan was protestant and may have distrusted Mary’s Catholicism; and the introduction of religion into Scottish politics was a new and destablising factor. Finally, Buchanan developed firmly held views on the rights of resistance. He despised the implicit imperialism of the struggle for the control of the British Isles, the suggestion of Divine right of monarchs, and incidentally the developing imperialism outside Europe. He was an enthusiastic exponent of the principle of the right to resistance to tyranny, driven by religious thinking that a monarch who does not embrace and support the Godly, that is protestant in Buchanan’s view, then the people have a right to depose them; monarchy is not based on Divine right, but on the people. Buchanan was, by the way, tutor to James VI, Mary’s heir, and firmly beat this theory, along with Greek, Latin and so on, into his young charge. The concept of group work, child centred learning and the importance of self- expression were subsidiary to the back of the hand approach in Buchanon’s teaching style. James never forgot or forgave Buchanan’s brutality. He banned Buchanan’s books when he achieved his majority, and continued to have nightmares about his old tutor ‘til the day he died. But I am getting ahead of myself, in a bad way.

On Mary’s execution in 1587 there was a wave of shock around Europe; in France there were mass protests in the streets of Paris, and Phillip was able to repurpose the Amanda against England as vengeance for Mary’s execution. The English meanwhile constantly reminded everyone that Mary had been executed for treason, not religion, and there were demonstrations of joy in London. It  might also be noted that assassination attempts against Elizabeth stopped without Mary there to provide a focus for revolt.

At the time of Mary’s death, there were therefore voices that ran counter to Buchanan’s – the Catholic Scot Adam Blackwood for example whipped in Catholic support for Mary, and even went to Peterborough to hang a placard by her tomb describing her as

An ornament of our age and a martyr to the majesty of all kings and princes

So then Mary’s son, Jimmy VI came to the throne, just a nipper when he did, and Mum had been deposed and was in custody in England. So it took a while for him to get his feet under the table, and in 1603 he became James I of England to boot, which is when the rehabilitation of Mary’s name really got going. James himself moved Mary from Peterborough Cathedral where she’d been buried, to the mausoleum  of the English monarchy, Westminster Abbey – in a tomb significantly bigger than Elizabeth’s I might add. And he encouraged the leading historian of the time to complete his Annals of the reign of Elizabeth I. William Camden, for t’was he, took a blowtorch not only to the bad vibe coming from Scotland about Mary, but applied the blue flame also to George Buchanan. There’s a certain language used to traduce other historians – it would be fun to compile a dictionary; ‘problematic’ I have often thought is often the historians’ word for ‘just plain tripe’.

What Buchanan has written there is no man but knoweth by the books themselves printed[1]

Basically Camden is saying Buchanan had no sources to back up his claims, with the heavy implication that he made a load of it up. And he seems to have had a point – parts of Buchanan’s narrative have now been proven false.

Camden then had a very different view of Mary. Two things should be said; firstly that Camden was noted for his reference to primary sources and evidence, so tick; and that he was writing at the encouragement and during the reign of her Son, so, no tick. Anyway, Camden concluded that Mary was

Fixed and constant in her religion and piety towards God, invincible magnanimity of mind, wisdom above her sex and admirable beauty

He admitted that politically she had crashed and burned horribly, but was adamant that this was not Mary’s fault or from defects of her character. What brought her down was desperate bad luck, and ‘ungrateful and ambitious subjects’, particularly her half brother, James Stewart, the Earl of Moray.

In the 18th century the idea of Mary as Catholic martyr persisted, along with the interpretation of Camden’s ‘dashed unlucky’ Mary, but confessional defence of Mary were relatively muted. But these interpretations were joined by the Mary of classical tragedy, which I understand from the film Educating Rita links failure to a fatal flaw in the character concerned, and Mary thereby became a figure of Romance.

But in the 19th century the confessional element of debate became more central and Mary was linked to wider trends in history – to Protestantism for example, so Mary might be tragic, or unlucky, or a guilty adulteress, but as Julian Goodare puts it in the DNB, she was considered as being essentially wrong, a historical dead end. In his play Maria Stuart, though, Schiller essentially reversed the story, by playing on the romance of Mary’s story. Personal anecdote alert; I did once go to see Maria Stuart by the way, in Vienna would you believe. I was a poor student so I bought a partially sighted seat behind a pillar. I do not speak German apart from being able to say die sonne scheint aus sein wolkenlosen Himmel The people I was with, one of whom was very attractive a fact which was not entirely irrelevant to my presence there, were students of German literature and thoroughly loved it. I was more bored than I have ever been. How can a play last 40 hours? Or so it seemed. But if my German had been more extensive, I would no doubt have noticed that while for Buchanan, Mary’s unbridled passion led her into tyranny, for Schiller it was the passionless machinations of Elizabeth and Cecil that was the real tyranny, the romance of Mary’s life was what sparked sympathy; Elizabeth’s sterility against Mary’s life affirming passion. That romantic Mary story for a while lead to a different view of the Earl of Bothwell in early 20th century romantic novels – he was now painted as the dashing, naughty but nice sexual libertine, with whom Mary fell in love.

In the 1960s came an analysis of the casket letters by Armstrong Davies. You may already know this, but when Mary was investigated in England, Cecil asked for proof of Mary’s complicity, and hey, whaddya know Moray and Buchanan discovered a super secret casket of letters supposedly demonstrating that Mary was behind the murder of her husband, Darnley. Golly, that’s a stroke of luck. Armstrong Davies showed just how dodgy these letters were, and how much they’d been altered – and a stone in the anti-Mary story fell from the archway. In 1969, Antonia Fraser then wrote a very detailed biography of Mary which was very sympathetic. From there, the popular Mary has flourished – such as the 1971 film Mary QoS which shows Elizabeth tricking her into a bad marriage, and her ministers inventing the Babbington plot. I have to say though that I am not sure the film does much for Mary’s talents, she comes across as super naïve and a soft touch, whereas are the 2018 film does show her courage much better. The more recent movie emphasised the betrayal of Mary by male noble determined to pursue their own interests. It also has a laundry theme, and Elizabeth unpicking embroidered flowers in her distress that Mary is so much cooler than she is.

However, the outcome of Mary’s life has been a theme in the histories too. Jenny Wormald’s biography of 1988 was an outlier in this ‘What are we to make of Mary?’ thing. She wrote ‘There can be no doubt of her failure as a ruler’, and Wormald focusses on Mary’s competence as a ruler, or indeed the lack of it in her view. She refuses to look at Mary in the context of her gender, concentrating instead on her actions in the context of Scottish kingship and politics, and the religious change taking place.

Wormald’s rather negative view of Mary’s talents have been refuted by historians such as Michael Lynch and John Guy, and as I say the more positive view of Mary has rather won out. John Guy’s detailed biography of 2004 for example is remarkably partisan. Don’t get me wrong, it is also a great read, superb history, John Guy is a historian whose shoe laces I am not fit to untie, and if you are to read one book about Mary, this is the one. But Mary’s magnates such as Morton and Moray are plastered all over with adjectives such as ‘devious’ and Dark. And as for Cecil…well, I imagine he blushed for shame and turned in his grave. Guy draws attention to his relentless antagonism, his support for the protestant lords, and worse of all the extent to which he briefed against his own queen, who was much more favourable to Mary’s future.




However, that also introduces some further themes in recent historiography. Attention to some degree has moved away from Mary, and towards the people around her; accepting Cecil’s utter determination to clip Mary’s wings in the interests of his protestant vision of the British Isles; and looking at the role of the magnates around her. While Guy sees these as purely devious, tribal and self interested, Anna Groundwater in her 2017 Afterword to Jenny Wormald’s biography rather criticised historians such as Guy as from a school in English Tudor politics. She points out that it can be too easily assumed that noble power and faction meant it was inevitable that Mary should fail; and poses the question of how far Mary should have been able to better use the cooperation of nobles and their extensive kinship networks – as her son, presented also with enormous obstacles – will do.

Kate William’s book does a very interesting job in raising the issue of gender, though again, Anna Groundwater makes the point that while the literature was stridently patriarchal, the practice was often very different; and that Mary had at her disposal the trappings and power of majesty and monarchy on her side. Mary was very clearly fully aware of and insistent on her monarchical status, and used both male and female aspects of monarchy in her presentation to her subjects. None the less the interpretation of Mary’s relationship with Bothwell had definitely moved from one of romance to one of rape – and the limitations on Mary’s options once she had been subjected to Bothwell’s villainy and ambition.

There is also the impact of the reformation to be considered. This is not simply a matter of confessional division; the reformation also had a fundamental impact on the resources available to the crown, as catholic church revenue dwindled and disappeared, the reformed kirk took an increasingly independent line, and the opportunities for royal patronage were much reduced. Scottish monarchs had fewer cards to play with. And now there’s another dimension to factional loyalties – the confessional divide, which also divides historians – how important was it when compared to the old, secular factional and kinship loyalties?

So, before we get to events, what are we left with? The question remains really – did Mary stand a chance? Did she do a good job in an impossible situation? This is John Guy’s view, whose tears stain the page, when he writes

Mary was the unluckiest ruler in British history. A more glittering and Charismatic Queen could not be imagined, and yet Scotland was a small and divided country, the prey to its larger neighbours. On top of this, the Protestant Reformation had combined with the factionalism of the lords to create a moment when monarchy was more than usually vulnerable.’

Or was Mary incompetent as Jenny Wormald contended, and we are just making special pleading for her. Or, was Mary’s failure basically the tragic one – her own failure to deal with a situation which, while without doubt demanding, was manageable; or as Julian Goodare puts it

Ultimately one is left with a historical Mary remarkably close to the popular image: a romantic tragedy queen’.

I think we should start from the very beginning, although some of this I will already have covered, but the context of Mary’s upbringing I think is very important to her attitudes and expectations when she became Queen.

Mary was born in the same month as her father James V died, in 1542. It was a period of minority chaos, with the Hamilton family, the earls of Arran eventually taking over leadership of the Council. But that had no impact on the acceptance of Mary’s right to rule and she was quickly crowned – there is no sign of any attempt to rule her out, if you’ll pardon the pun, on the basis of her gender. It was also an opportunity for peace with England, and the Treaty of Greenwich in 1543 included the marriage betrothal of Mary to Edward VI. However, attitudes in Scotland changed as English insistence that Mary come to live at the English court, and war broke out again – the rough woo’ing as it was called, with Somerset’s army causing death and mayhem in the borders to try and enforce the treaty. At his side was one William Cecil, learning the strength of a joint protestant message – and the costs and failure of an attempt to impose a settlement on Scotland. His future strategy would be to support Scottish factions, and allow only limited and temporary military interventions by the English.

Anyway, in the wake of military defeat at Pinkie Cleugh, Arran did not cave into the English – instead he contacted the French, Henry II of France promised to throw the English out, and to betroth Mary to the Dauphin of France, Francis. This was on the condition that Scotland and France were ruled as separate countries with their own laws and customs. Now, this was not just a royal affair – it was also a Guise business. As I believe you are now aware, Mary of Guise was Mary’s mother. Her brothers, Francis the Duke of Guise and Charles Duke of Lorraine, were soon in Scotland with the French army, laying siege to the English at Haddington. The Guise were Mary Queen of Scots’ uncles and fervent Catholics, would play an important role in Mary’s life. And on 29th July 1548 Mary left for France, which rather cut the legs off the English attempt to bring her to England.

Mary took some Scottish noble friends with her to the French court, Mary Fleming, Mary Beaton, Mary Seton and Mary Livingstone. You may notice the obsession with the name of Mary. These companions will spend many years with Mary, or even to the end of her life in Mary Seton’s case, and be very close to her. Mary was subjected to a French devotional manual called ‘the three Maries’ in her education; so slightly wickedly, she dubbed her companions the Four Maries, and the name stuck.

Mary was to spend 13 years in France, and her age effectively made her a Frenchwoman by upbringing, educated in her formative years. She was a big success at the French court; while it’s pretty rare for a Princess to be described in anything other than glowing terms, she seems to have been unusually beautiful and graceful, with wit, charm and intelligence to match. She was tall, growing to be maybe 5’ 10”, which was a bit embarrassing to her betrothed, since Francis was a bit of a shrimp. Interestingly she didn’t really exploit her appearance fully for propaganda purposes or to project her majesty, which may have been a lost opportunity. She was well educated at the French court, but was probably no academic genius; her education was more courtly than academic, so sewing, dancing, music, singing, horse riding; she was taught Latin and the rudiments of other languages but not written Scots or English – her diplomatic correspondence was written in French.

Her relationship with the king, Henry II appears to have been good; and as she grew older her relationship with her uncles grew stronger and stronger. Charles of Lorraine spent most time with her, guiding her in protocol, advising on the letters she should write and what approach to take. She deferred always to their advice[2], which I guess you would unless you were a particularly self-reliant and confident teenager. But it does hint at an attractive but unhelpful character trait; she was often too trusting, and inclined to make quick decisions. So for example she gave 30 blank sheets of paper [3]to her mother in law signed with her name to be used as required by her mother in law. Partly, she was exploited by the Guise, though it’s likely to a degree they took her to their hearts; but when France hit the chaos of their religious wars, Mary dropped quickly off their priority list, and they had little help or advice to give. The king and the Guise never forgot that this was a dynastic marriage, which gave France the opportunity to build a Franco Scottish state. For Mary’s part, she always felt closest to her Guise relations; her last letter for example was to Henry III of France, asking to be buried in Rheims.

There was advantage and disadvantage in her up bringing in France. While France was strong, she had support from one of the most powerful countries in Christendom. She was fully immersed in a high concept of monarchy – trained in what she should expect from her advisers and subjects, though this is a blade that could cut both ways. But it meant that she never built a network of relationships with the lords and magnates she was to work with in Scotland and bend to her will. Her expectations of relationships and management of lords were based on the very different context in France. And for their part, some of the Scottish lords were suspicious of her French upbringing, and French court culture was alien to the Scottish lords.

More evidence of Mary’s alignment with her family’s cause and her trusting nature came when she was married in 1558 to Francis. Before the wedding, Henry persuaded her to agree that if she and Francis died childless, her rights to rule Scotland was pass to Henry II. She signed this and two other documents which were illegal under Scottish law and quite contrary to the terms of the original betrothal agreement. It is impossible to believe that Henry II and the Guises acted in good faith in this; but why did Mary do it? The likelihood is that she was just 15, and persuaded into it by people she loved and trusted; and who at the age of 15 foresees their own death? She was duped by experienced politicians who may not have told her all that was involved. If she was aware – then it showed very little grasp of policy – she was now committed to two incompatible strategies, Scottish independence and a Franco Scottish state; and it suggests that her early commitment was to France not Scotland.

When Elizabeth was crowned in 1558, the Guise treated the news with contempt. Mary and Francis’s arms were quartered with those of England, on the back of the Catholic claim that Elizabeth was illegitimate and therefore Mary was now the rightful queen of England. The English Ambassador Nicholas Throckmorton sent a drawing back to England; it showed the styling used by the French, the quartered arms, a crown to emphasise the point, and the styling described as

The arms of Marie Queen Dauphine of France

The noblest lady on earth. For till advance

Of Scotland Queen. And of England also.

Of Ireland also. God hath provided so.

So, I know you have heard much of that before but it’s crucial. The message from Throckmorton was received and read by William Cecil, who ferreted it away in Mary’s file, feeding the fires of what would become his obsession. Meanwhile, Mary’s excessive trustfulness will stay with her, as will her determination to attain the throne of England, and the strength of her dynastic ambition will colour her thinking. But she manages very successfully to identify with Scotland and her interests once it is clear that is where her future lies; she works hard to stay friendly with both France and England, but she is the catspaw of neither.

Rushing on then; in 1559 Mary’s mother as Regent of Scotland began to lose control, and the Reformation parliament in 1560 made Scotland officially protestant, albeit with the Catholic church remaining in place. The peace treaty at Cateau-Cambresis between Valois, Hapsburg and England was a blow to the Guise faction at court; worse a sub treaty was signed with England which Mary was forced to sign by Henry and his wife Catherine de Medici. Mary put her best foot forward, made a regal speech – but she was forced to acknowledge Elizabeth as Queen. The affair must have been an education in the volatility of political power and the turn of fortune’s wheel.

The Guise were not out of power for long. The unexpected death of Henry II in a jousting accident brought Francis to the throne – with Mary as Queen of France, and the Guise came with them. While Henry’s other advisors were dispatched from court, a confessional edge appears in French politics since many were protestants.



The same flavour was exported to Scotland, as Charles of Lorraine wanted Mary of Guise there to crush the protestants as rebels, rather than continue the policy of religious accommodation. The Franco British Project was revived, the quartered coat of Arms appeared publicly. The king’s mother, Catherine de Medici hung on grimly, although marginalised, but the Guises’ use of Mary to justify an aggressive expansionist foreign policy caused her to mistrust Mary. Meanwhile the Guise brothers, Francis and Charles, completely dominated the young king and queen; none of the policies in their brief reign can be traced back to Mary and Francis, but only to the Guises.

However, the greater aggression in Guise policy was not accompanied by greater funding or aid to the Regent, and at this point the Lords of the Congregation started to receive aid from England. As we have heard, Mary of Guise effectively lost control before she died in June 1560. Mary was devastated by the loss of her mother, whom she’d not seen for 9 years, and was in floods of tears. However, the Lords of the Congregation, led by James Stuart and the Earl of Argyll, negotiated the Treaty of Edinburgh with England without reference to the sovereign ruler of Scotland, namely Mary, although the treaty required her ratification. And it was not a treaty Mary was going to like – she would be forced to give up her claims to England, and both English and French troops must leave Scottish soil. The Franco British project had effectively ceased to be.

Yet this appears to mark the start of Mary’s exercise of direct responsibility for her kingdom. She hated the text of the Treaty of Edinburgh, and she had no intention, come hell or high water or any number of white horses, of signing it. She sparred and bantered with the English Ambassador in France, Throckmorton, like a professional, evading his request that she sign. She charmed and impressed him so that he reported home that she

Doth carry herself as honourably, advisedly and discreetly, as I can but fear her progress

And in the meantime she started off a long and difficult long-range relationship with Elizabeth.

Novelists and playwrights through the ages all agree that it is a travesty of the dramatic world that Elizabeth and Mary never met. I suspect that in 1981 John McEnroe at Wimbledon was not disputing a line call at all when he raged ‘you cannot be serious’, but simply expressing his anger at this want act of cruelty visited by history on the literati. Schiller, filmmakers, novelists, all have the meeting take place, because surely no meeting would be unacceptably anti-dramatic. And yet in reality they thumbed their noses at drama. Well, in effect, William Cecil thumbed his nose at drama, for it is he that will keep the pair apart when Elizabeth came very close at one point to going to meet her.

So the relationship was conducted through personal letters and through diplomats. It’s a remarkable series of exchanges against a complex shifting framework of diplomacy, status, fear, pride, curiosity, even jealousy. A most unnatural and unfulfilled relationship to the very end.

At this moment, then, Mary was riding high, and who knows what might have happened. As her confidence grew, maybe she would have been able to play an unusually strong role as queen of France, since she was queen of Scotland in her own right. Maybe she would have started to assert herself against the Guise, and maybe the Franco British project would have been revived. But all of that falls into the ‘what if’ branch of history; because in November 1560 Francis II her husband died. There was a power struggle at the French court, and once again the Guise lost out, this time to Catherine of Medici, who nixed the Guise plans to marry Mary off to a Hapsburg prince – Catherine wanted no rivals to the status of her own daughter, now married to Phillip of Spain. Catherine wanted rid of Mary – there would be no place for her at the French court, and in the short term she had to return the royal jewels and vacate the Queen’s apartments.

Mary quickly decided that she would return to Scotland and was convinced that her charm and her majesty would bring the Lords and the people to her side. She earnestly desired friendship with the English queen – though never as a subordinate, but as a an equal. And she’d never sign that evil Edinburgh treaty. So she drew to her those advisors of her mother’s with experience of Scotland, such as Henri d’Oysel. Before her return, Mary would receive two very different pieces of advice from Scottish lords; the Earl of Huntly sent a messenger suggesting she land in Aberdeenshire, they raise an army and crush the protestant rebels of the Congregation and restore Catholicism. Her half brother Lord James Stewart advised a much more conciliatory line – to pursue the accommodation of religions, and avoid soaking Scotland in the blood of civil war. D’Oysel advised supporting Lord James; he was in his view the most talented of the Lords, the most capable of helping her rule, and Mary chose to listen. It has to be said there were very powerful counter arguments; after all James Stewart was the architect of the Treaty of Edinburgh which Mary detested with good reason, he had led the Lords of the Congregation against her mother. But he was family, and Mary had a strong belief in family; and as a monarch, Mary had a keen awareness of her need to good counsel, and her duty to seek counsel from her lords.

His case was helped by the fact that Lord James came to France himself to see her in 1561, and they spent 5 days together. Although Lord James was protestant, he took a significant risk in agreeing with her that she should be able to practice her religion in private at Holyrood House, and move likely to infuriate Knox and the firmer flavour of Calvinists. He was intelligent and coherent, charming, already leader of the Lords of the Congregation, and ultimately convincing – the Huntly road would lead to civil war and unthinkable bloodshed which Mary instinctively dislike, with a natural inclination towards conciliation.

Alongside Lord James, it is worth at this point introducing you to two more key characters, with whom Mary would inevitably have to dance. One was part of the traditional set of Scottish Magnates, the Douglases. James Douglas was the fourth earl of Morton, about 45 years of age. Morton was a strong personality, but not a principled one, either in public or private life, and was particularly rapacious financially, and his motivations in what follows tend to be about his personal power and position. His strengths were administrative, and through the Douglas kindred he controlled much of the Eastern borders and Lothian, all the way up to Fife.

The other is William Maitland of Lethington. Here is a fierce intellect and talent. Deeply committed to Protestantism, who closely managed the progress of the Reformation through the Scottish parliament. His great skills as a politician won him many enemies – he was known as Michael Wylie, a pun on Machiavelli, or known as Chameleon according to Buchanan. He was close to the English, believing deeply in a protestant union, and corresponded frequently with Cecil; Elizabeth recognised his talents describing him as ‘the flower of the wits of Scotland’, and a Scottish 16th century writer as ‘a man of deep wit, great experience and one whose counsels were held at that time for oracles’. Mary started a correspondence with Maitland right away because he wrote to her and offered her his service, advising at the same time that she should ignore the sort of chatter she’d hear about him. Mary sent him a very impressive letter, candid and straight – yes she trust him, but she knew his reputation and ‘if anything goes wrong after I trust you, you are the one I shall blame first’. She also told him that she knew he was corresponding with Cecil and he should stop it. Well Maitland rather takes Mary’s letter to heart. But rather ironically, also forwarded a copy of the letter to Cecil.

Mary was at the time on a tour of her relatives in France, to say goodbye before she left for Scotland. By the 14th August 1561 she left Calais in a flotilla of the dozen ships needed to transport her baggage. As she left, she burst into tears…’Adieu France. I think I’ll never see your shores again’.

[1] Guy, J: ‘My heart is my Own’, pp505-6

[2] Guy, J My heart is my own p 57

[3] Guy, J My heart is my own p 82

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