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July 24, 2015

July 24, 1567: Mary, Queen of Scots abdicates

On this day in 1567, Mary, Queen of Scots was forced to abdicate.

In her life, she had claimed the thrones of four countries: Scotland, England, Ireland, and France. Mary Stuart would spend the next 19 years as the prisoner of Queen Elizabeth I, her first cousin once removed, before being executed.

Mary ascended to the Scottish throne at the tender age of six days, after her father, James V, died on campaign. Mary lived in France while regents ruled Scotland, and at age 15 she wed the French Dauphin, Francis. When he ascended to the throne in 1559, she became Queen Consort.

This period was short-lived, however; King Francis II died in 1560, and Mary returned to Scotland, where she married Lord Darnley, her first cousin. (Was everyone related back then?) They had a son together, but Darnley would be killed in a mysterious explosion.

The man suspected of the explosion, the Earl of Bothwell, was acquitted and became Mary’s third husband in May 1567. The union was unpopular, and Mary was jailed until she gave up her crown in favor of her infant son, who became James VI.

Mary, a Catholic, sought asylum in England, but Elizabeth, a Protestant, had her confined to house arrest; nearly two decades later, after nearly continual fighting between the two sets of believers, Mary was accused of orchestrating an assassination attempt on the Queen called the Babington Plot, and was beheaded.

When Elizabeth died in 1603, James VI of Scotland became James I of England.

For more on Mary, Queen of Scots, visit

Image: François Clouet (1515–1572). Mary, Queen of Scots (c. 1560). Royal Collection.

One Comment
  1. And being tall, attractive and stupid, she could have had her own Aaron Spelling series. (The risk would be Aaron insisting on Tori playing Elizabeth.)

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