Mary Queen of Scots: Obtaining, Defending, and Holding onto the Scottish Crown

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Mary Queen of Scots: Obtaining, Defending, and Holding onto the Scottish Crown
Anthony Ambrosius Aurelius

“In Leith, Scotland in 1561, Mary Stewart, also referred to as “Mary I”, returned to her homeland of Scotland from France, but because she was away from Scotland for so very long, she understood nothing about Scottish culture or politics.

Stewart was set to be the next monarch of Scotland, ahead of her half brother Lord James Stewart because although the pair shared the same father, James V, only Mary I was considered to be a true royal as James’ mother was his father’s favorite mistress, Lady Margaret Erskine, (pronounced “errs-kine”) which meant that James’ royal linage was considered tainted and broken. As well as being considered a bastard, James’ new religion of Protestantism was considered illegitimate as well.

When Mary I left Scotland, the country was overwhelmingly Catholic but when she returned to Scotland, she came to find that half of her subjects had converted to Protestantism. During this time, James was regent, head of government, and acted as one of the key members of the Protestant Revolution, making him an incredibly powerful person in Scotland.

Beyond Edinburgh, Scotland, many of the kingdoms subjects, particularly the clans, held strong onto the classical religion of Catholicism. James had a plan to unite the clans which involves Mary I, essentially a charm offensive in which Mary I would be put on display to seduce and charm the leaders of each clan in an effort to convince them to abandon their sectarian differences through a shared allegiance toward Mary I herself.

Mary I was lavishly entertained at every stop along her journey, being afforded the very best of Scottish Highland hospitality. In the evenings, Mary I ordered her court to don Highland textiles, and explained that she was a fan of the Scottish harp and Bardic poetry, even listening to bagpipe music which was quickly becoming a symbol of Highland culture.

The charm offensive plan of James works but the dalliance was not over yet as the primarily Catholic clans wanted Mary I to restore the old Catholic order to Scotland.”

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