Sunday, September 14, 2008

Question from Lauren - Quotes from Mary Queen of Scots

Hi everyone! I've been trying to find quotes attributed to Mary, Queen of Scots and am not having any luck (well besides "In my end is my beginning"). Does anyone know of other quotes that I am overlooking? Thank you so much for you help!


Anonymous said...

Well, you could probably find some good ones in The Casket Letters.

Check out:

There are some other good items there as well.

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind that there isn't any proof that The Casket Letters are as far as being written by Mary.

The real documents disappeared years ago...most likely held by her son, James I/VI, and then destroyed by him at some point. All that are available to see now are copies.


Anonymous said...


As I said, there are other items on that site that are apparently not in dispute.

Bearded Lady said...

Oh please don’t use the Casket Letters.

You could use many quotes from Mary’s last letter to Elizabeth. She was understandably pretty pissed off –

You can find the English Translation Here:

Here is another primary source:

Personally, my favorite Mary quote is what she said in reference to her treatment at the hands of Elizabeth:

“Remember that the theatre of the world is wider than the realm of England”: Antonia Fraser, Mary Queen of Scots (London: Phoenix Press, 1969), p. 507.

kb said...

There are so many biographies of Mary QoS that I would think an hour at our local bookstore skimming through them would be very fruitful.

Elizabeth M. said...

You will find tons of information--such as quotes from letters from Mary to Elizabeth in two superb biographies of Mary--one is the standard bio of her by Antonia Fraser, which is still in print since first published in 1969. The other is a biography of Mary by John Guy. I have read both and both are excellent.

Foose said...

It's a pity that the Casket Letters are considered questionable, there are such memorable and colorful quotes in there, that indicate a real personality: "Cursed be this pocky fellow that troubleth me thus much ... I thought I should have been killed with his breth, for it is worse than your uncle's breth." These lines linger in the memory more than many of her actual quotes, and not just because they're associated with a famous crime. It's the same thing with her "interview" with John Knox, as reported by Knox, in which he typically bloviates for three paragraphs and then Mary gets out a single indignant sentence, like: "Think ye that subjects, having the power, may resist their princes?” Unfortunately, the authenticity is suspect and his account might indicate that Knox wrote better lines for her than she came up with.

While I can think of a raft of Elizabeth quotes right off the top of my head, with Mary it's difficult if I leave out the Casket Letters and the Knox Interview and "Jesu, Paris, how begrimed you are!" Elizabeth seems to have been a born writer to some degree, who really shaped her words to make them as pithy and striking as possible. Henry VIII also had the gift, and Anne Boleyn to some degree, but clearly their classical educations helped Henry and Elizabeth too. I wonder if Mary's lack of comparable quotes might indicate that she just didn't have the gift or that her "native" language was French; perhaps her quotations in French are much more punchy. Catherine of Aragon, for example, seems to have adopted English to the extent that she seems to have had a very good command of vernacular English and was able to come up with some powerful lines herself.

Bearded lady, that's an interesting quote about "the theatre of the world." There is a book about Mary, "An Accidental Tragedy," that came out last year. It is not written by a scholar, although Roderick Graham has clearly read a lot of the sources. It does make several mind-boggling statements (paraphrase: the French king's mistress always walked about with one breast exposed, to advertise her availability to the king - that's news to me!) but I liked the psychological portrait he created of Mary. (And yes, psychologizing these people is dangerous, but always interesting.) Mary he described as someone who never outgrew being the star of the Valois court's masque-and-mythology scene, and that her only consistent policy as a mature adult was basically re-creating that same "theatre" for herself to shine in. Rather as if she were first Shirley Temple and then the young Elizabeth Taylor on the MGM backlot.

Anonymous said...

Mary Stuart Queen of scots is quite an interesting caracter.
I used to have two books on her.
1. There is the casket letters.
2.Mary's letters in code to Anthony Babbington during the Babbington plot.
3.Mary's speech at the scaffold.
One of the things that mary said in a coded letter to babbington was let the great plot go ahead signed mary directly underneath it.
The last part of Mary's speech was 'Inmanus tuas Domine' which means Into your hands o lord.
She was said to have said this three or four times.

Bearded Lady said...

You could find some great quotes in the Babington letters but keep in mind that the originals mysteriously disappeared and we only have copies. Mary also claimed that they were forgeries. So alas….who are you going to believe?

Some translations here:

Foose, I love when she talks about Darnley’s bad breath in the casket letters. Wait…was it Darnley? I can’t remember now. Yes, it’s a shame you can’t use them because they are colorful. I will have to check out that book. I have never heard of it. Mary is a really fascinating person to psychoanalyze. And people always seem to get really emotional when talking about her. I suspect she would enjoy seeing herself cast as the tragic heroin.

owenstuart said...

6 years after you post this, I stumble across it. Well it is to late but my favorite and a it says it all really.

"I am the Queen of the Scots, i have been Queen of France, I am the rightful air to the throne of England.. They have made song of me and verse but being Mary Stuart has brought me nothing but sorrow...