Friday, April 17, 2009

Question from Mick - Signatures on Mary QOS's death warrant

Who has countersigned the death warrant for May Queen of Scots.

In Peterborough Cathedral it says it was sign by Mary!

Was Mary Queen of Scots was required to countersign her own death warrant!


PhD Historian said...

The original of the death warrant is not known to exist still. Only one sixteenth-century copy of it is known, at Lambeth Palace Library. It was purchased in early 2008 from a California collector for return to the UK. It is not signed by either Elizabeth Tudor or Mary Stuart.

A photo of it can be seen at :

The signature at the upper left was affixed by a secretary. It is definitely not Elizabeth's autograph signature.

There was, however, a popular published facsimile printing of the warrant done in the nineteenth century that did include at the bottom copies of the signatures of both Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor ... but it also included engraved images of both women and of the execution ... none of which were on the original. Peterborough is no doubt referring, mistakenly, to the nineteenth-century facsimile printing.

Foose said...

The question has an interesting echo in Walter Bagehot's 19th-century The English Constitution, in which he discusses how the role of the monarch has evolved to the point where "[The Queen of England] must sign her own death-warrant if the two Houses [Lords and Commons] send it up to her."

But of course this is in the 19th century, after the Civil War and the Glorious Revolution. I don't think Queen Elizabeth I could have been constrained to sign her own death-warrant had both Houses had the temerity to submit one to her.

Tudorrose said...

Mary queen of scots did not sign her own death warrant.It was the queens cheif minister Robert cecil that signed the warrant because as Elizabeth often took a long time to make up her mind.Cecil urged her to sign and ended up signing the death the time Elizabeth was annoyed by this at what he had done but in the end aggreed it was the right thing to do.
my question to mick is what gave you the idea that Mary signed her own death warrant?
Naturally the monarch at the time would have had the responsibillity of signing the death warrants of the condenmed.I don't think Mary being in the position she was in would have signed her own death warrant and the sme goes for any of the condenmed at the time.The person who was being tried and condenmed to die would have had to have been mad to sign his or hers own death warrant.I know mary lost her throne of scotland and was imprisioned in lochleven castle until elizabeth told the scots to free her in 1567.Mary fled to england on Queen Elizabeths mercy she thought and had to much to gain.she wanted the one and only thing she couldn't have and that was the throne of she lost her own.dont forget she was a distant cousin of Elizabeth so she did stand a right to the throne but not until elizabeth's passing.But what it was is that she couldn't wait she had no pacience.So the throne of scotland now belonged to her son James.Who became James VI of scotland and on Elizabeths death became James I of England.In Marys mind she wanted the throne of England and was going to get it and not let anyone stand in her way.Even though the plot she was planning and the plan she was plotting did not suceed because the queens secretary walsingham found out about the plot and brought it to light and informed the queen straight away.At some point I think Mary thought she would have suceeded with the plot because of her ever so famous note she had written to Babbington in code said Let the great plot go ahead.but unfortunately for her it failed and thats when i think she was in despair in her mind.I gather she was thinking what can I do next is there anymore I can do?Or she just gave up and surrendered and then she new she would be executed.I think she thought it would be all worth it no matter what the outcome at the end of it all.To her I think it was all well worth it.