Published on July 2nd, 2015 | by Sarah Jubb
Queen of Scots and King of Great Britain
After the fall of the Tudor dynasty, the Stuart dynasty took pride of place as the monarchs of Scotland from the late 14th century and later became the monarchs of Great Britain in the 17th century. A series of King James’s ruled Scotland throughout the 15th century and this was broken up by the daughter of King James V, Mary I.
Mary Queen of Scots
Mary Stuart, also known as Mary I of Scotland, became the Queen of Scotland in 1542 at only six days old after the death of her father. She was also the great-niece of King Henry VIII of England as her grandmother was Margaret Tudor, Henry’s sister; this gave her a strong claim to the English throne as well as the Scottish throne.
Due to her young age, Scotland was ruled by regents until she was able to come of age and take the throne for herself. Originally Mary was to be betrothed to King Henry VIII’s son, Prince Edward, but the influence of a Catholic cardinal which resulted in Mary being secluded away to Stirling castle. The marriage treaty was rejected by the Scottish parliament and they renewed their old alliance with France, thus angering King Henry and England.
Fleeing to France
In retaliation, Henry implemented the ‘Rough Wooing’ that saw English raids on both Scottish and French territory. Despite this, Mary was betrothed to the son of the French King Henry II, solidifying the alliance between Scotland and France. As a result, she was sent to France where she eventually married Francis in 1558. A year later Francis became the King of France after his father died, allowing Mary to become the queen consort.
In 1560 however, Francis died and Mary returned to Scotland, which had since become Protestant, possibly dangerous for Mary who remained a Catholic. She later married her first cousin, Lord Darnley, who also was a grandchild of Margaret Tudor, re-emphasising Mary’s claim to the throne. Unfortunately Darnley became spoiled and joined Mary’s enemies in murdering her secretary, David Riccio, which inevitably destroyed their marriage.
The Downfall of the Queen of Scots
Mary bore a son in 1566 who would later become the King of Great Britain and Ireland, but in 1567 Darnley was murdered outside Edinburgh with Mary suspected of the murder. Only months later she married another of the murder suspects, the Earl of Bothwell. This marriage proved to be her downfall though as both Catholics and Protestants were shocked she had married someone accused of her husband’s murder.
She abdicated her throne in favour of her son, James, that same year and she escaped imprisonment, fleeing to England to seek asylum with Queen Elizabeth I. Unfortunately though, Elizabeth was suspicious of Mary due to her strong throne claims and she proceeded to keep Mary in captivity for the next 19 years. She was executed in 1587 after a series of Catholic plots that sought to assassinate Elizabeth and placed Mary on the throne.
James VI and I
After his mothers abdication in 1567, James VI became the King of Scotland at thirteen months old, leading to Scotland being ruled by regency, just like it had when his mother was young. Unlike his mother though, James was brought up to as a Protestant and he took control of the throne properly in 1581.
Due to the strong claims from both his mother and father, James was the likely successor to the English crown once Elizabeth died, as she had no children and was not married. He married Anne of Denmark in 1589 which proved to be a fruitful marriage with three children including the future king Charles II.
The King of Great Britain and Ireland
His wish to take the English throne eventually came true when Elizabeth died in 1603, resulting in James being named the king of England. He called himself King James I of Great Britain, resulting in England and Scotland being joined in a personal union that saw the two countries united under one monarch, though they kept separate governments.
Despite remaining the Scottish king, he only returned to Scotland once in his entire rule, preferring to spend his time in England. It was under his rule that the infamous Gunpowder Plot occurred in 1605 that sought to assassinate James by a group of Catholics. He also oversaw a new translation of the bible that was the Authorised King James’ Version.
James VI and I died in 1625 and he was given a magnificent funeral before being buried in Westminster Abbey. His reign had been relatively peaceful and he was popular with his subjects, leading him to be mourned. As well as this, the foundation of the English colonisation of North America had begun under James with the founding of Jamestown, Virginia in 1607.