Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Question from Diane - Darnley's claim to the English throne

I'd like to learn more about Lord Darnley's claim to the English throne. I know his ties to Scotland's throne were much stronger but he was also a grandson of Margaret Tudor through her second marriage to Archibald Douglas. Thus he was descended from Henry VII and after the death of Edward VI was, to the best of my knowledge, the sole legitimate male relative on the Tudor side to Queens Mary and Elizabeth. With Darnley also being a Catholic did Queen Mary ever consider making him her heir? He would have been 13 in 1558.


Elizabeth M. said...

Mary, for all her dislike and distrust of Elizabeth, probably was resigned to following the succession path laid out by her father--Edward VI, then herself if Edward died without issue, which he did, and then Elizabeth, if Mary died without issue, which she did. henry VIII also specifically left out the descendants of his sister Margaret out of his succession plan in favor of those descendants of his younger sister Mary. However, Queen Mary Tudor was acutely aware of the possibility of civil unrest. Look at what happened when her brother died--the proponents of her cousin Lady Jane Grey, a granddaughter of Henry's sister Mary, tried to wrest the throne from Mary. Jane was queen for nine days before Mary reclaimed the throne which was hers by right according to her father's wishes. Darnley, being a minor, would have required a regent. There is not a possibility Mary would have wanted the specter of another Duke of Somerset or Northumberland acting in such a powerful role again. Elizabeth would, as Mary had done before her, fight for her claim to the throne. Elizabeth was not her choice, but she was the choice of the order set down by her father. Mary may have thought that was better than more civil turmoil over the succession.

kb said...

I don't know if Mary ever considered him directly as an heir, but his mother Margaret Douglas, countess of Lennox certainly was grooming him for a glittering future. She was considered first lady of Mary's court and considered herself an heir. She also held the wool monopoly as a gift from Mary.

Unfortunately I am traveling and away from my sources so can not provide the appropriate documentation. By the time of Mary's final will which we only have as a contemporary copy with a huge middle section skipped, she had resigned herself to the inevitable succession of Elizabeth.

Diane said...

I must correct myself. Darnley was not the sole male Tudor heir, but the oldest. There was also his brother, Charles, who was 3 in 1558. Charles would later become the first Earl of Lennox and father of Arbella Stuart.