Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Question from Mike - Why did Mary QOS go to England

Why did Mary QoS seek exile in England as apposed to France or Spain and what was her son James VI doing during this period of time?

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think Mary sought exile in England because she beleived Elizabeth would help her to raise an army to reclaim her throne in Scotland. I think her son was in the care of the protestant lords of Scotland at this time. Im currently reading Phillipa Gregory's "the other queen" which is about Mary of Scots.

Tracey said...

Mary truly believed, from past 'conversations' with Elizabeth, that England's queen would help her back to the Scottish throne.

The supporters who were with Mary were appauled at her decision. They knew Elizabeth wasn't a friend and that Mary would be better served by France; Mary had property there, her dowager Queen of France pay was hers, and she had family to help.

Mary didn't seek exile in England...she sought a refuge in which to gather her forces, get Elizabeth's help, and then spring back across the border. She did not anticipate being 'a guest' for eighteen years.

James VI, who was still a toddler, was under the care of the Protestant Lords. He was King of Scotland due to the abdication document Mary signed. Albeit, he was king in name only.

PhD Historian said...

Anonymous has a good point: Mary and Elizabeth were cousins who shared common ancestors ... they were "family" ... and Mary perhaps thought she had reason to expect assistance from Elizabeth as "family."

Mary also had family in France, through her mother Mary of Guise. The Guises, however, were leaders in the French Wars of Religion and instigators of the War of the Three Henries. The Guises had little time or need for direct involvement in Scottish affairs, especially a potential additional religious civil war, this time in Scotland. They were too busy in France. Marys' presence in France would have been an unneeded irritant to the Guises and a drain on their resources.

Spain cannot have been a viable option. Mary had no family contacts there, and Spain was a traditional enemy of France. And the Spanish Crown, like the French, was already over-extended with its Imperial conflicts in the Low Countries and the Italian peninsula. Neither Mary nor the Spanish Crown can have been much interested in each other.

There are also purely "environemental" reasons why Mary did not seek exile outside the British Isles. To do so would have required travel by ship across the English Channel. That often cannot be done at a moment's notice. Weather conditions can restrict ships to port for weeks at a time, preventing travel altogether. Mary's transit out of Scotland was relatively sudden, following defeat at the Battle of Langside, leaving her little time to obtain a ship or to wait on favorable winds. She had to escape quickly, and escape by land was probably the only viable option at such short notice. England was her only hope.

kb said...

OK - A bit more on this.
Camden reports that in 1568 ‘Queen Elizabeth comforted her by Letters sent by Sir Francis Knolles and others, promising her Protection according to the Equity of her Cause…’ This would have been in the first rush of Mary's arrival and may have been hand delivered by Francis Knollys as he rushed to Carlisle to take control of the situation.

I also believe that, as phd historian points out, Mary was dissuaded from heading directly to the coast as she might have had to wait for several days for a ship. If she was waiting on the Scottish coast, she would have most likely been captured. If she waited on the English coast, the Scots could not have followed her without provoking a serious international incident.

There are hints that she had 3 choices, France, England or Denmark. While France might have seemed a good choice given she had land revenues and an extensive and powerful family, the de Guise were in a fairly serious political struggle at the time. Additionally Catherine d'Medici did not really like Mary and her de Guise uncles were in a near constant state of re-alignment with Catherine. An extra dowager queen would have opened to many political Pandora boxes. PLUS she would have had to wait for a ship.

Denmark would have been the romantic choice but I suspect she was much more interested in raising an army and riding back into Scotland and then deciding if Bothwell should be by her side. PLUS she would have had to wait for a ship.

England was the logical choice. Ignoring Elizabeth's possible reactions, Mary could cross to England (and back again if the situation arose) very quickly. She could wait for ships from France carrying supporters and funds with which to mount her counter-offensive. She also, with some reason, supposed that Elizabeth would support her in this. PLUS she wouldn't be captured waiting for a ship.

Of course, she underestimated Elizabeth and her advisers who clearly understood the threat to England - a threat dripping in religious consequences.

Bearded Lady said...

Elizabeth had promised Mary protection in her letters. Mary had no reason to doubt her.

I am guessing Mary ruled out France more for political reasons. Mary needed to raise an army and France was in no position to do so. Catherine was already begging for money to protect the French crown. And btw, I just don’t see any evidence that Catherine disliked Mary. I agree that Mary’s relationship with Catherine was not the stuff of Hallmark commercials but Catherine never exhibited any ill feelings (that I know of?) toward Mary. But I would love to be proven wrong...(The two queens hating each other certainly makes for a far juicier tale. I love a good royal cat fight :)

kb said...

Bearded Lady,

While Catherine displayed affection to Mary before and during her marriage to Francois II, after her son's death, she was distinctly cold towards Mary. Partly because Mary's family the de Guise were at political odds with Catherine. After Mary left for Scotland the de Guise and the queen mother maintained a very uneasy peace united in common cause against religious reformation.

While I have not read the letters personally that passed between Catherine and her daughter Elizabeth by then queen of Spain, it would seem that she said some very nasty things about Mary. Specifically she did not want Mary to wed any prince of Spain. this would have strengthened the de Guise party.

Bearded Lady said...

Kb, I missed this post...Anyway, I have read many of the letters from Catherine to her daughter and I have yet to find anything that would suggest that Catherine showed any animosity toward Mary. If you find any letters with Catherine insulting Mary or showing that she was less than cordial in her dealings with her then I would love to see them.

I have to say, Mary and Catherine's relationship seems to be imaginative fodder for the fiction writers – portraying Catherine as the mother-in-law from hell!

Of course, she did not want Mary to marry Don Carlos for this would have meant that Spain could add England to the notches on their belt. It would be natural for a mother to work against any arrangement which would usurp her son's position. But I don't think we should jump to conclusions and say that Catherine disliked Mary personally.

So that's my defense of Catherine. I can come up with more if I wasn't so tired. She is one of my favorite royals :)

kb said...

I think Catherine disliked Mary politically. I think personal relationships were secondary. Catherine was a significant politician and I still maintain that she did not want to find a place for Mary in France. Mary was a loose piece on the European chess board. With income from lands in France and the kingdom of Scotland she was a prize. There was no place for this prize in France with Catherine in power. If Mary had wed any of Catherine's other sons, Catherine would have been displaced and the de Guise empowered. If she married anywhere outside of Scotland the chess board would have been shaken up.

If Catherine had been overtly fond of Mary, viewed her as her own daughter, she might have found ways to navigate the resultant political situation and welcome Mary back to France. I just don't think Catherine was that naive. She was an uncommonly astute politician, if a bit enamored by mysticism.