Monday, March 9, 2015

David Rizzio's Murder

Today is the anniversary of the murder of David Rizzio, Mary of Scotland's Court musician and secretary for diplomatic relations with France, in 1566. The report is that he was stabbed 56 times by followers of Lord Darnley, after a scene of great violence to the pregnant Mary, in Holyroodhouse.

The National Galleries of Scotland have "The Murder of David Rizzio" by Sir William Allan on display. This site has the following details about this horrendous event:

On the evening of Saturday 9 March, while the Queen, Rizzio and some others were at supper in the privy chamber off the Queen´s bedroom in Holyrood Palace, Darnley and Ruthven entered, followed by the other conspirators. On the 9th of March 1566 Mary, Rizzio and a small group of friends were enjoying a late supper in the small room by the Queen’s bedchamber. Darnley suddenly appeared, speaking to Mary as a group of armed nobles made their way to the Queen’s chambers. Mary immediately realised that David’s life was in danger and confronted the plotters - ‘Leave our presence under pain of treason.’ When Ruthven told Darnley to seize his wife a fight broke out. Rizzio hid behind the Queen’s dress as her friends and servants struggled with Ruthven.

David Rizzio was dragged screaming from the supper room and murdered in the stairway outside the Queen’s chambers. He was stabbed over 50 times before his body was dumped down the stairs. Darnley refused to stab Rizzio but his dagger was left in the body to show his complicity.

It's amazing but true to note that there is no public statue honoring Mary, Queen of Scots in Scotland! As this BBC story from last month notes:

Her life has inspired many film scripts and novels but no public monuments.

She became queen of Scotland when she was six days old but spent most of her childhood in France.

On her return her brief reign resulted only in disastrous marriages, murder and war.

She gave up the throne at the age of 24 and was a prisoner in England for most of the next 20 years until she executed on the orders of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I.

Now, more than 400 years after her death, the monarch, whose son, James, became king of Scotland and England, is finally to have a monument to her erected in Scotland.

The statue will be unveiled later this spring but work is under way at Powderhall foundry in Edinburgh on a queen who has been notable by her absence.

The manquette of the sculpture is pictured above, used by the kind permission of The Marie Stuart Society, which has raised the funds for this long overdue tribute. 

Mary, Queen of Scots did not demand that everyone in Scotland practice the Catholic faith--no cuius regio, eius religio for her. She didn't replace the Protestants at Court who had been ruling in her absence after her mother, Marie of Guise died, but did have Catholics, including David Rizzio at Court in her household and practiced her Catholic faith by attending Mass even though the Scottish Parliament had "abolished" the Mass in Scotland. Fear of Catholicism in Scotland, however, fomented by John Knox, led to Rizzio's murder and the violence perpetrated against the reigning monarch. Mary had compromised, in consultation with her half-brother James Stewart, the first Earl of Moray, John Knox and his supporters refused to compromise and Knox consistently attacked Mary because she practiced her Catholic faith.

1 comment:

  1. It's simple. The Scots are embarrassed that Mary was Catholic. Even now, in these days, they are less Catholic and violent opposed to being seen as such.