Saturday, June 09, 2012

Question from Stacey - Mary Queen of Scots' imprisonment in England

How was it explained to Mary, Queen of Scots that she was losing her freedom once in England? Who told her & under what conditions was it explained to her that she would be held captive?


Roland H. said...

It was probably delicately put to Mary that she was a 'guest' of the Queen of England, and that her stay in England was 'for her own protection'.

In the beginning, Mary genuinely believed that Elizabeth would help her, and she had no reason to think that her exile in England would be a long one.

Elizabeth too was favorable to Mary, and as a fellow-sovereign, sympathetic to her cousin for the loss of her Crown. She was even willing to receive Mary in London, but was persuaded not to by William Cecil and her other advisers, who viewed the Scottish Queen as a threat.

Mary R said...

I remember reading that Elizabeth sent Mary Queen of Scots clothes more suitable for an impoverished gentlewoman than a fellow monarch. Perhaps this was Mary's first clue...

Anonymous said...

From what I know of Mary, it seems like she would have demanded to have freedom & that she would not allow restrictions on herself.

Jessi said...

She was made to give up the throne for James, her son. Mary later escaped from her prison and she fled to England where she hoped her cousin, Elizabeth, would look after her. Mary's logic was twofold. First, Mary was a queen and so was Elizabeth. Mary expected a queen to help a queen.

Ladyhoby said...

Mary sent Elizabeth a letter from Dundrennan dated May 15th 1568 in it she speaks briefly about the battle and her loss of troops and that she wish to speak to Elizabeth so that she could tell her all that had gone on before

She also mentions about a jewel I believe it was a ring which Elizabeth sent her, when I’m not sure but think I read somewhere it was at around the time Elizabeth planning Mary’s marriage. She sends it back to Elizabeth which Mary believes was given to her as a token and promise of friendship and alliance with the letter.

So although she hadn’t got permition from Elizabeth to enter England, Mary believes that this will be forgiven with this ring and that Elizabeth will rally around her maybe give her troops, help her get her kingdom back

She signs off your affectionate sister

The next letter is dated May 28th 1568 from Carlisle in it she says

“Madam my good sister, I have two letters from you, the first of which, relating to myself, I hope to answer, and to learn from Lord Scrop and your vice-chamberlain your natural inclination toward me”

She seems to know that Elizabeth has been told things about her that could be harmful to her, so she says that she is sending her faithful and well beloved subject Lord Heris to “inform you fully of all these things”

Further down the letter Mary sounds fearful in the way she writes, this could be because of what had been written by Elizabeth or what had been said by Lord Scrop and the vice-chamberlain.

“I have lived in a manor a prisoner in your castle, for a fortnight since the arrival of your councillors; I have not obtained permission to go to you to plead my cause, as my confidence in you was such that I asked for nothing more than to go to you to make you acquainted with my grievances”

The same day she wrote to the queen mother of France and William Cecil both are short and offer the ones who are carrying them as people that will answer any questions that they are asked

Laura said...

Ladyhoby, I think when reading letters from one monarch to another, especially Elizabeth and Mary, we have to be really careful. There's a lot of flowery language that implies an affinity that perhaps the two women actually felt, but it's far more likely that they both used the conventions of the time to hide their true intentions. While Mary seems to be very respectful to Elizabeth, it's important to remember that Mary didn't necessarily believe that Elizabeth rightfully belonged on the throne of England. Mary, like most of Europe, saw Elizabeth as a bastard who may or may not have been the true daughter of H VIII, but either way, her illegitimacy automatically excluded her from the succession. And since Mary was also her cousin, and born without the taint of illegitimacy, she believed herself to be not just the rightful monarch of Scotland, but also of England.

Elizabeth, as a somewhat insecure monarch, wanted desperately to support Mary as a fellow queen and was hesitant to act against another anointed sovereign. That said, Elizabeth was also politically astute enough to realize she could never openly support Mary's claim to the Scottish throne by supplying her with soldiers and arms to enforce claim.

I think it's much more important to look at the actions of the two women, instead of anything they might have written to one another. While I think Mary initially expected her stay in England would be short-lived and she'd prevail in the end, i think she learned quickly that whatever Elizabeth may have said, she wasn't going to risk her own throne to help fight for Mary's.