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Mary Stuart Timeline (Historical)

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A timeline of events in the life of Mary, Queen of Scotland


  • December 8, 1542: Mary, Princess of Scotland is born at Linlithgow Palace in West Lothian, the only daughter and last child of King James V and Queen Marie de Guise.
  • December 14, 1542 Just 6 days after she is born, Princess Mary becomes Queen when her father dies at the age of only 30.
  • July 1543: James Hamilton, Earl of Arran, negotiates terms for peace with Henry VIII and the marriage of Mary to his son Edward VI at Greenwich.
  • September 9, 1543: At less than a year old Mary is crowned Queen of Scotland at Stirling Castle. Her mother, Marie de Guise rules as Regent aided by Cardinal Beaton.
  • December 1543: Arran and the Scottish Parliament abandon the Treaties of Greenwich.
  • September 9, 1547: Hertford engages battle with the Scots at Pinkie near Musselburgh. 10,000 Scots are killed and 1,500 taken prisoners. Mary is sent to Inchmahome Priory near Stirling for safety.
  • 1548: English troops burn Dunbar Castle, Musselburgh (near Edinburgh), Dalkeith and Haddington in East Lothian. Mary is moved to Dumbarton Castle. French troops help the Scots besiege Haddington. Henry II of France promises safety for Mary in return for her marriage to his son, the Dauphin Francis.
  • July 7, 1548: Treaty of Haddington is signed between the French and the Scots at the Nunnery of Haddington. Mary is betrothed again.


  • August 7, 1548: From Dumbarton Castle, Mary sails down the Clyde Estuary to France with the French fleet. Also with her are her guardians, the Lords Erskine and Livingston, her nurse Jean Sinclair, her governess Lady Fleming, the four Mary's, Ladies Fleming, Seton, Livingston and Beaton, three of her half-brothers and other children of the Scottish nobility. Six days later the fleet arrives at Roscoff in France.
  • March 1550: Treaty of Boulogne: peace between England and France is negotiated followed by peace between England and Scotland in June 1551. Mary of Guise visits her daughter in France and asks the French to help her replace Arran as regent.
  • Dec 1557 - April 1558: Ongoing negotiations between the Scots and the French over Mary and Francis' wedding. Marie de Guise sends Lord James Stewart (Mary's half-brother) and Erskine of Dun as commissioners.
  • April 11, 1558: Mary and Francis are officially betrothed in the Great Hall of the Louvre Palace in Paris.
  • April 24, 1558: Mary and Francis are married in Notre Dame Cathedral. The marriage contract secretly gives away Scotland to France should Mary die without an heir.
  • November 17, 1558: Mary's cousin, Mary Tudor dies and Elizabeth is crowned Queen of England.
  • July 10, 1559 King Henry II dies after being fatally injured in a jousting accident, leaving 15 year old Francis and his recent bride Mary as the new King and Queen of France.
  • September 1559: Francis is crowned King of France at Reims Cathedral. Mary is Queen of France. More French troops are sent to Scotland to help Marie of Guise against Châtelherault and the Protestant Lords but the confrontation reaches a stalemate.
  • February 1560: Elizabeth of England signs the Treaty of Berwick with the Protestant Scots promising them to help their rebellion against Mary's mother.
  • June 11, 1560: Mary's mother, Marie of Guise dies of dropsy, an accumulation of fluid in the body.
  • July 6, 1560: The Treaty of Edinburgh is signed. The purpose that French and English troops would withdraw from Scotland but Mary and François were to agree to give up claim to the English crown and recognize Elizabeth as rightful Queen.
  • November 1560: Mary's husband, Francis develops an ear infection, which is exacerbated by an abscess.
  • December 5, 1560: Francis dies at the age of only 16, and Mary loses the French crown. Her mother-in-law Catherine of Medici moves in for the kill. She becomes regent on behalf of her younger son, Charles IX.
  • July 25, 1561: Following the Scottish proposals advanced by James Stuart, her half-brother, Mary leaves Paris for Calais accompanied by friends, three uncles, household servants and the four Mary's.
  • August 14, 1561: Not able to delay her departure any further while waiting for Elizabeth's safe passage permission, Mary sets off for Scotland.


  • August 19, 1561: Mary's ships sail into Leith Harbor at about nine o'clock in the morning.
  • January 1562: Mary attends her half-brother, Lord John's wedding to Lady Janet Hepburn at Crichton Castle.
  • August 10, 1562 to November 1562: Mary goes to Linlithgow Palace followed by Stirling, Perth, Coupar Angus, Glamis Castle, Edzell Castle and Aberdeen. Next she visits Darnaway, Inverness, Spynie Palace, Aberdeen again, Dunnottar Castle, Montrose, Stirling again and finally back to Edinburgh. She also stays at Balvenie Castle and Arbroath Abbey.
  • February 11, 1563: Mary leaves for Rossend Castle. Pierre de Châtelard, a young French poet infatuated with Mary travels along although banished from court for having been found hiding under her bed at Holyrood. At Rossend he barges into her room while she is being disrobed and assaults her until Moray comes to the rescue. He is tried and executed at St Andrews. She continues to Falkland and then back to Edinburgh on May 18.
  • July 1, 1563: Mary travels to Dunipace, Glasgow, Hamilton, Dumbarton Castle, Inveraray Castle, Dunoon, Eglington. Then on to Ayr, Dunure, Ardmillan, Ardstinchar, the Abbey of Glenluce, the Priory of Whithorn, Kenmure Castle, St Mary's Isle, Dumfries, Drumlanrig Castle, Crawfordjohn, Couthalley, Neidpath Castle, Borthwick Castle, Dalhousie and Roslin. She returns to Edinburgh in September 1563 after a visit at Craigmillar Castle.
  • July 21, 1564: Mary embarks on her northernmost progress. She visits Linlithgow again, then Perth, Blair Castle, Inverness, Beauly Priory, Dingwall, Gartly Castle, Aberdeen and Dundee. She is back by September 15.
  • January 16, 1565: Mary visits Falkland again, Balfour Castle, Ballinbreich Castle, Balmerino Abbey and St Andrews. Then on to Struthers, Lundin Tower, Wemyss Castle, Dunfermline Abbey. She is back in Edinburgh by February 24, 1565.
  • February 16, 1565: Mary meets Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley for the first time since her return to Scotland at Wemyss Castle. He re-joins her in Edinburgh after a quick visit to his father in Dunkeld.
  • April 1565: Mary nurses Darnley through a bout of measles. Moray, Ruthven, Morton, Glencairn and Châtelherault sign a bond to prevent the Mary-Darnley marriage.
  • May 1565: Mary makes Darnley Earl of Ross. Lord Robert Stewart is made Earl of Orkney and Shetland and Lord Erskine, Earl of Mar.
  • July 1565: Mary issues a proclamation declaring that she will not interfere in religious matters. She also seeks a papal dispensation for her marriage as her and Darnley are blood relatives, but she does not wait for it to arrive.
  • July 16, 1565: Mary and Darnley ride to Seton Palace and stay two nights there. The following Sunday their banns are announced.
  • July 29, 1565: Mary and Lord Darnley are married in the chapel of Holyrood Palace.
  • August 26, 1565: Mary sets out towards Stirling to confront Moray and the rebellious Lords. This is the start of the Chaseabout Raid.
  • September 22, 1565: After a visit at Huntingtower Castle, Mary returns to Edinburgh to muster more support.
  • October 8, 1565: Mary with her forces and Darnley arrive at Lochmaben Castle where they attend a banquet. Meanwhile, Moray crossed the English border when he realized that there was to be no English help. In Dumfries, Mary met the Earl of Bothwell and made him her lieutenant-general when he joined her campaign.
  • March 1566: For fear of reprisals, the Lords involved in the Chaseabout Raid and Darnley sign a bond with the object of upholding the protestant faith, remove David Rizzio, Mary's Secretary and convey the crown matrimonial to the by now estranged Darnley. Maitland carefully avoids signing
  • March 9, 1566: David Rizzio is savagely stabbed to death at Holyrood, in front of the heavily pregnant Mary by the Patrick Ruthven, accompanied by Darnley and the Earl of Morton's men. Mary is detained at Holyrood while the Lords issue a proclamation in Darnley's name that the Chaseabout Raid rebels were pardoned. Moray conveniently returns from exile and expresses surprise at the murder.
  • March 12, 1566: With the help of Bothwell and her equerry Arthur Erskine, Mary and Darnley escape unnoticed out of Holyrood to Dunbar Castle. She is joined there by Huntly, Fleming, Seton, Atholl, Balfour and Bothwell. She offers to pardon the perpetrators of the Chaseabout Raid but not those of the murder of Rizzio. Morton, Lindsay and Ruthven retreat to England, Maitland flees north and Knox west.
  • March 18, 1566: Mary returns to Edinburgh and accepts Moray, Glencairn and Argyll back into her Council. She awaits the birth of her child at Edinburgh Castle for safety.
  • June 3, 1566: In preparation for the birth Mary sends for the midwife, Margaret Aestane and for the relics of St Margaret of Scotland.
  • June 19, 1566: Mary gives birth to a son named James, after a long and painful labor which started the day before.
  • August 1566: Mary goes on a hunting trip to Traquair House with Darnley but sends the baby to Stirling for safety.
  • 'October 1566: Progress to Jedburgh where she hears of Bothwell's injury by "Wee Jock Elliot". She rides to Hermitage Castle and back to see him and falls very ill as a result. Bothwell visits her but not Darnley.
  • November 1566: After stopping at Kelso, Hume Castle, Langton Castle, Eyemouth, Dunbar and Tantallon Castle, Mary and her advisers discuss what to do about Darnley at Craigmillar Castle. It is suggested to Mary that Darnley should be assassinated, a plan which Mary rejects.
  • December 17, 1566: James is baptized "Charles James" at Stirling Chapel. Darnley does not attend the ceremony. The godparents are the King of France, the Duke of Savoy and Elizabeth I.
  • December 24, 1566: Mary pardons the Rizzio murderers and spends some days at Drummond Castle accompanied by Bothwell, while Darnley retreats to Glasgow suffering of syphilis.
  • January 1567: Mary visits Darnley in Glasgow and persuades him to return to Edinburgh with her.
  • February 1, 1567: Mary and Darnley arrive in Edinburgh and Darnley is put up at Kirk o'Field, a house owned by the Hamiltons, for fear of contaminating the baby. Mary is cordial to him and it is agreed that he should return to Holyrood.
  • February 9, 1567: Mary attends one of her page's wedding at Holyrood but also spends some time with Darnley. At 10 p.m. she remembers that she promised to attend the masque and leaves again. At about 2 a.m. an explosion destroys Kirk o'Field. Darnley's naked body and those of his servants are found strangled in the orchard.
  • March 1567:Mary goes to mourn at Seton Castle. The Earl of Lennox, Darnley's father, openly accuses Bothwell of the murder.
  • April 19, 1567: Mary tries to regain support among her Lords while Bothwell gets 29 of them to sign the Ainslie Tavern Bond in which they agree to support his claims to marry Mary.
  • April 19, 1567: Mary visits her 10 month old son at Stirling for the last time. On her way back to Edinburgh she is abducted willingly or not by Bothwell and his men and taken to Dunbar Castle where she may have been raped by him.
  • May 6, 1567: Mary and Bothwell return to Edinburgh after staying at Hailes Castle.
  • May 7, 1567: Bothwell obtains a divorce from his wife, Lady Jean Gordon.
  • May 14, 1567: The marriage contract is signed.
  • May 15, 1567: Mary and Bothwell are married according to Protestant rites at 10 a.m. The couple retires to Borthwick Castle. Meanwhile, the Lords having once again turned against Bothwell organize an army to meet them on the way. Mary and Bothwell escape from Borthwick and move on to Dunbar.
  • June 15, 1567: Mary and Bothwell with the support of Huntly and Crawford confront the Lords at Carberry Hill. There is no battle but Mary agrees to follow the Lords on condition that they let Bothwell go. But the Lords break their promise and take her to the Lord Provost's House in Edinburgh and then to Lochleven Castle as their prisoner.
  • June 24, 1567: Mary abdicates in favor of her son under duress. James VI is crowned at Stirling and Moray becomes regent.
  • July 1567: Mary suffers a miscarriage. The father was most probably Bothwell but the date of conception is unclear.
  • May 2, 1568: Mary escapes from Lochleven with the help of two of the young Douglases. She is met by Lord Seton on the other bank and travels to Niddry Castle and then Cadzow Castle. She gathers 6,000 men.
  • May 13, 1568: Mary's troops meet those of Moray at Langside but are defeated. She flees to Terregles Castle and then to Dundrennan Abbey. Against the advice of Lords Herries, Fleming, Livingston, Boyd and George Douglas, she decides to seek help from England.


  • May 16, 1568: Disguised as an ordinary woman, Mary crosses the River Solway and lands at Workington. She spends her first night at Workington Hall owned by a friend of Lord Herries.
  • May 18, 1568: Mary is escorted to Carlisle Castle after spending a day at Cockermouth.
  • June 8, 1568: Elizabeth finally sends her emissary Middlemore to announce that she will not receive Mary in London until she has been cleared of all accusations against her at an inquiry to be set up by Elizabeth. Mary is moved to Bolton Castle shortly after, stopping at Lowther Castle and Wharton for two nights.
  • October 1568: The Conference of York opens with Moray producing the forged "Casket Letters" to prove Mary's guilt in the murder of Darnley. Mary is neither allowed to see the evidence nor attend in person.
  • January 11, 1569: The Conference of Westminster concludes that although Moray had produced insufficient evidence, Mary had not managed to prove that the Scottish Lords had rebelled against her unjustly, and she is remanded in custody.
  • February 3, 1569: Mary reaches the depressing Tutbury Castle after a long journey during which she is ill between Rotherham & Chesterfield.
  • May 12, 1569: Mary's health seriously deteriorates at Chatsworth Castle.
  • June 1569: Mary applies to the Pope for a divorce from Bothwell in view of a possible marriage with the Duke of Norfolk.
  • July 1569: At the Perth Convention, Moray turns down Mary's restoration proposal by a vote of 40 to 9. Elizabeth discovers the marriage plot and sends Norfolk to the Tower and Mary back to Tutbury in a rage.
  • November 1569: The Catholic Rising by the Earls of Northumberland & Westmorland fails. Although Mary did not approve, she is sent further away from the rebels to Coventry Castle but stays at an inn instead, followed by a house in the centre of town.
  • January 11, 1570: Moray is shot dead by a Hamilton. Mary rewards the assassin of her treacherous half-brother with a pension.
  • May 1570: Mary is taken back to Chatsworth and another ill-conceived plan to liberate Mary is hatched by Sir Thomas Gerard, local catholic squire, two brothers Francis & George Rolleston, John Hall and Edward & Thomas Stanley. Mary also disapproves of this one which is betrayed by one of the Rollestons and nipped in the bud.
  • October 1570: Cecil & Mildmay visit Mary at Sheffield Castle to propose a long list of articles aiming at an alliance with Elizabeth. Mary is enthusiastic and willing to compromise but nothing comes out of the proposals.
  • August 1571: The Scottish Regent Lennox, Darnley's father, is killed during a raid on Stirling. Morton takes over.
  • August 24, 1572: In France, Mary's Guise uncles instigate the St Bartholomew's Day Massacre of Protestant Huguenots.
  • August 1574: Augustine Raullett, Mary's secretary, dies and is replaced by Claude Nau. Mary enters a quiet period in her confinement.
  • 1577: There are plans for Mary to wed Philip of Spain's illegitimate brother, Don John of Austria but her marriage to Bothwell has still not been annulled. Mary makes a will in which she wishes her son James to marry a Spanish princess and convert to Catholicism.
  • April 1578: Bothwell dies in his Danish prison, followed by Don John six months later, and with him Mary's hopes of freedom.
  • 1581 - 1584: Mary launches the idea of the "Association" whereby her and James would rule jointly in Scotland. She enlists the help of Patrick Gray to negotiate, but he finds it more profitable to convince James that an alliance with and subsidy from Elizabeth would be more beneficial to his advancement. However, in July, James falsely welcomes Mary's idea.
  • November 1583: Walsingham, Elizabeth's new secretary of state, uncovers the Throckmorton Plot. Francis Throckmorton, cousin of Nicholas Throckmorton, is arrested for carrying secret correspondence to Mary. He confesses and incriminates her.
  • Summer 1584: Mary visits Buxton baths for the last time. She carves a farewell message on the window pane with a diamond.
  • September 1584: Mary is taken out of the care of her jailer Shrewsbury and handed into that of Ralph Sadler, following domestic scandals.
  • November 28, 1584: Nau draws up 28 heads of proposals on the Association in which Mary sacrifices a great deal in exchange for freedom.
  • January 1585: Mary is once more moved to Tutbury Castle, into the care of the unsympathetic Amyas Paulet.
  • March 1585: James officially repudiates the Association with his mother. Mary is devastated but blames mostly Patrick Gray.
  • Spring 1585: The English Parliament enact the "Bond of Association", a statute whereby Mary is to be held responsible for any plot instigated in her name, be it with or without her knowledge or approval.
  • Christmas Eve 1585: Mary is moved to Chartley Hall as she is severely ill; she takes to bed for over four weeks.
  • January 16, 1586: Walsingham starts off the first part of his plan to ensnare Mary. She receives her first correspondence in months through Gilbert Gifford, Walsingham's agent and the connivance of a local brewer also bought by Walsingham.
  • June 25, 1586: Mary is introduced via letter to Anthony Babington, young and zealous catholic whose plan to liberate Mary becomes entangled with Walsingham's set up at this point.
  • July 14, 1586: Babington sends Mary a letter in which he unwisely discloses the details of his plot, including "the dispatch of the usurping Competitor" (the assassination of Elizabeth).
  • July 17, 1586: Against her secretaries' advice, Mary replies approving all his plans. Walsingham's decipherer, Phelippes, draws the gallows sign on the letter. A postcript is added (to be later removed) asking for the names of all those involved in the plot.
  • August 14, 1586: Babington is arrested and sent to the Tower. He confesses all on the 18th.
  • August 11, 1586: Mary, still unaware, is offered by Paulet to go for a ride outdoors. This is so that Elizabeth's emissary can arrest her en route. Nau and Curle, Mary's secretaries are taken to London while Mary and her physician, Bourgoing, are marched towards Tixall. A fortnight later, she is removed to Chartley where her possessions were seized. Nau and Curle confess. Nau is sent to France and Curle remains in prison for another year.
  • September 25, 1586: Mary arrives at Fotheringhay Castle after spending one night at Hill Hall near Abbot's Bromley and two nights at Leicester, house of the Earl of Huntingdon.
  • October 1, 1586: Paulet announces to Mary that she will be interrogated and should own up to her misdeeds. She refuses.
  • October 8, 1586: The Commissioners assemble at Westminster to hear the evidence, and agree to try Mary under the Act of Association.
  • October 14, 1586: Mary yields to pressure and agrees to appear in person to answer the single charge of plotting Elizabeth's assassination.
  • October 15, 1586: Mary enters the room directly above the Great Hall at nine o'clock for the first day of the trial. When it finishes the next day, no verdict is reached as Elizabeth has ordered it to be prorogued pending her decision.
  • November 1, 1586: Paulet rudely interrupts Mary in prayer but fails to extract from her the confession desired by Elizabeth.
  • November 19, 1586: Lord Brockhurst breaks the news to Mary of her forthcoming execution but obtains no repentance or confession either. Mary spends the next two days doing her correspondence.
  • December 4, 1586: Parliament obtains a public proclamation from Elizabeth of the sentence of death. All attempts on Mary's behalf are annihilated by Walsingham, and Mary's farewell letter to Elizabeth is not dispatched.
  • December 11, 1586: Mary again writes to Elizabeth to urge her to speed her execution but Paulet refuses to send the letter.
  • February 1, 1587: Elizabeth finally signs the Death Warrant.
  • February 7, 1587: Mary and her remaining servants are finally notified of the date of the execution.
  • February 8, 1587: Mary is executed in the Great Hall of Fotheringhay Castle between the hours of nine and ten in the morning.
  • Late July 1587 In a Protestant service, Mary, Queen of Scotland is buried at Peterborough Cathedral.
  • 1612 On the orders of her son King James VI of Scotland, I of England; his mother is exhumed and reinterred in Westminster Abbey.

See Also Edit


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