After 19 years of imprisonment, Mary, Queen of Scots, is beheaded at Fotheringhay Castle in England for her complicity in a plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I.
In 1542, when she was only six days old, Mary ascended the Scottish throne on the death of her father, King James V. Her mother sent her to be elevated to the court of France, and in 1558 she married the French dauphin, who became King François II of France in 1559 but died the following year. After Francis’ death, Mary returned to Scotland to assume her designated role as the country’s monarch.
In 1565, she married her English cousin Lord Darnley in order to strengthen her claim to succession to the English throne after Elizabeth’s death. In 1567, Darnley was mysteriously killed in an explosion at Kirk o ‘Field, and Mary’s lover, the Earl of Bothwell, was the prime suspect. Although Bothwell was acquitted of the charge, his marriage to Mary in the same year angered the nobility. Mary brought an army against the nobles, but was defeated and imprisoned in Lochleven, Scotland, and forced to abdicate in favor of her son by Darnley, James.
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In 1568 Mary escaped captivity and raised a substantial army, but was defeated and fled to England. Queen Elizabeth first took in Mary, but was soon forced to put her friend under house arrest after Mary became the center of various English and Spanish Catholic plots to overthrow Elizabeth. Nineteen years later, in 1586, a major plot to assassinate Elizabeth was reported and Mary was brought to justice. She was found guilty of complicity and sentenced to death.
On February 8, 1587, Mary Queen of Scots was beheaded for treason. Her son, King James VI of Scotland, calmly accepted his mother’s execution, and on the death of Queen Elizabeth in 1603, he became King of England, Scotland and Ireland.
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