Friday, August 19, 2011

The Queen of Scotland Returns

The infant Mary was crowned Queen of Scotland when she was six days old after her father was defeated at died after the battle of Solway Moss. (James V was also an infant when he came to the throne after the defeat and death of his father, James IV, at the battle of Flodden. His mother, Margaret Tudor, was regent during his minority.)

Henry VIII wanted the young Mary to marry his son Edward, the Prince of Wales, but her mother, being French, sought a strengthening of the "ould alliance" between Scotland and France, and Mary was betrothed to Francis, the Dauphin, or heir of Henri II. Henry VIII conducted some "Rough Wooing" along the border of England and Scotland in protest. Mary grew up in France, encountering the great French renaissance and experiencing the factional court of Henri II. She reigned briefly as Queen consort of Francis II when Henri II died after a jousting accident.

On August 19, 1561, she returned to Scotland, arriving at Leith. Her homeland and kingdom had changed greatly since she went to France. While her mother Mary of Guise was regent, many of the Scots nobles had allied with John Knox to establish the Presbyterian Kirk of Scotland. As Queen of Scotland, the returning Mary required only that she be allowed to practice her Catholic faith; she did not support the Catholic factions of nobles, but accommodated the prevailing Protestant lords.

When she left France, Mary stayed on the deck of her ship watching the coastland of her adopted country fade in the distance. Having lost both her mother and her husband so recently, Mary mourned the loss of France, weeping as she knew she would never return. Remember: she was only 18 years old!

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