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Episode
187

Mary Queen of Scots

Aug 24, 2021
History
-
25
minutes
Scotland
The Catholic Church
UK politics
Great Britain
France
Kings & Queens
Women's rights

She became queen of Scotland when she was only six days old, and the rest of her life was filled with tragedy, betrayal, and bad men.

Learn all about the history of this brave queen, and what her story tells us about life as a woman in the sixteenth century.

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[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:21] I'm Alastair Budge and today is part two of our three-part mini series on Scottish Heroes. 

[00:00:29] In today’s episode we are going to talk about the amazing life of an extraordinary lady – a royal who combined in so many ways the romance and glitter of France with the romance and mystery of Scotland. 

[00:00:44] Her name was Mary Queen of Scots.

[00:00:48] As in the other episodes in this mini series, this episode is split into several sections: some background to what was happening in Scotland and England at the time of her birth; a brief account of her life; a discussion about the relationship with Scotland’s powerful neighbour, England; her legacy to the folklore of Scottish nationalism; and finally, we will end with some weird and bizarre facts about Mary. 

[00:01:19] Now, there is a lot to get through, so let’s get started.

[00:01:24] Let’s begin with an outline of what was going on in the British Isles when Mary Stuart, otherwise known as Mary Queen of Scots was born, on the 8th of December 1542.

[00:01:39] Scotland and England were both independent kingdoms, they both had their own monarchs.

[00:01:46] When Mary Queen of Scots was born, her father James V was the king of Scotland.

[00:01:53] On the English throne was Henry VIII, the king you may know of because of his fondness for executing his wives.

[00:02:02] But crucially, just six days after Mary was born, her father died. She had no legitimate brothers and sisters, which meant that she was first in line to be queen of Scotland. 

[00:02:17] And she became queen on his death, aged just six days old.

[00:02:23] Obviously, a six-day-old baby doesn’t make a very good monarch, so Scotland was ruled by a collection of what’s called “regents” until Mary was old enough to take back the throne.

[00:02:36] Mary wasn’t only in line to the Scottish throne though. 

[00:02:41] Mary’s grandmother, Margaret, was the English king, Henry VIII’s, older sister. 

[00:02:48] In England, Henry VIII had already gone through 5 wives by the time that Mary was born, he did have some direct heirs, but their claim to the English throne was, let’s say complicated, given that he had broken with the Catholic Church.

[00:03:07] So, long story short, Mary was also an indirect heir to the English throne.

[00:03:15] This made her an incredibly eligible bride, but it also made her a threat.

[00:03:24] Henry VIII wanted his infant son, Edward, to be engaged to marry the infant Scottish Queen. 

[00:03:32] Mary had this really strong claim to the English throne, and if she were married to Edward, then not only would this threat be neutralised, but he could also become King of Scotland.

[00:03:47] There was much discussion about this, and disagreement within the Scottish nobility.

[00:03:54] The decision was taken to reject Henry, and instead to have Mary engaged to the three-year-old son of King Henry II of France.

[00:04:05] The English King, Henry VIII, was furious about being rejected, and invaded the southern part of Scotland, rampaging through border towns.

[00:04:17] It was decided that Mary wasn’t safe in Scotland, so she was whisked away, she was taken away to France.

[00:04:26] Now, you might be asking yourself, why should there have been such a link between France and Scotland? 

[00:04:33] Well this alliance and long-standing friendship between the two countries was based on mutual self interest - the self interest which comes from having a common enemy – England. 

[00:04:47] The relationship was described using the Scottish word for old – the Auld - A U L D - the Auld Alliance. 

[00:04:57] From her arrival in France in 1547 until her eventual return to Scotland in 1561, Mary had a highly privileged childhood in arguably the most glittering and wealthy royal court in the world. 

[00:05:15] She was a charismatic, beautiful, talented, and clever young woman, and she flourished at the French court.

[00:05:24] Unfortunately, as will become a theme in Mary’s life, she was dragged down by a man.

[00:05:32] The Dauphin, or Crown Prince, Francis, might have seemed like a great catch

[00:05:39] Indeed, he was heir to the French throne.

[00:05:42] After they married in April 1558, with Mary just 15 years old, things swiftly went downhill.

[00:05:52] He was a prolific womaniser, he was completely unfaithful to Mary, and their marriage was not a happy one.

[00:06:01] He became king of France a year later, in 1559, but died in 1560.

[00:06:09] Not only did his premature death mean that she lost her husband and status as Queen of France, but it also meant that she could be dominated – you could say bullied – by Francis’s mother – her mother-in-law – Catherine of Medici. 

[00:06:27] Meanwhile, back in England Elizabeth I had become queen. 

[00:06:32] She was the sole surviving heir to Henry VIII, but wasn’t considered by Catholics to be a legitimate heir

[00:06:41] She was Henry’s daughter from Anne Boleyn, but Anne was Henry’s second wife, after his divorce from Catherine of Aragon, hence many Catholics didn’t consider it to be a legitimate marriage.

[00:06:56] After the death of Mary’s mother back in Scotland, Mary returned to the country of her birth in the summer of 1561, aged 18.

[00:07:07] Her intention was to retake the throne, and to rule over Scotland.

[00:07:13] Imagine the sense of excitement and nervousness – trepidation, you could say – as Mary’s small fleet of ships reached the harbour of Edinburgh’s port, Leith. 

[00:07:26] It is August but the Scottish air is typically chilly and Mary’s boats have made such good time that there is no one there to greet her. 

[00:07:36] Out steps this beautiful, eighteen year old: a charismatic, lively, young woman - 180cm tall with light brownish red hair, it must have been quite something to behold

[00:07:52] She has kept her Scottish language – the dialect known as Lowland Scots – but she is happier in French and has no real knowledge of the land that she is expected to rule over. 

[00:08:06] For the past 14 years, in her absence, the real power has been exercised by a group of 24 Scottish nobles or aristocrats. 

[00:08:16] Scotland, a country of a mere 800,000 people, is a very complex and divided society, with many people owing much greater loyalty to the leader of their clan or wider family than to the king or queen. 

[00:08:34] Being a young woman from abroad was not a good basis for success. 

[00:08:40] There is one other big issue which needs mentioning here. 

[00:08:45] Mary was a Catholic. 

[00:08:47] Scotland at this time was becoming dominated by a particular form of Protestantism which had its origin in the teachings of a Frenchman called Jean Calvin – Calvinism was the resulting religious movement. 

[00:09:02] Although Mary knew that she had to accept the prevailing Scottish religion, there was no getting around the fact of her Catholicism. 

[00:09:12] The man who embodied this negative attitude towards her was a fearsome Calvinist priest or minister called John Knox. 

[00:09:23] Preaching sermons in his Edinburgh church of two or three hours in length every Sunday, he was openly aggressive in in his opposition to Mary: she was a Catholic; she was a woman and her behaviour as a fun-loving, brightly dressed and extravagant aristocrat from the decadent, pleasure-loving French court meant that there was a lot of ammunition for Knox to use against her. 

[00:09:53] Surrounded by powerful nobles who were plotting against her, and attacked by the most powerful churchman in the country and confused by the many challenges of trying to rule this divided country, she was also in search of a husband. 

[00:10:10] Or, to put it more accurately, other people, notably her elder cousin, Elizabeth of England, or her French relatives and other European royalty were searching for a suitable husband for her. 

[00:10:26] Unfortunately, as is becoming something of a recurring feature in this doomed young woman‘s life, she made a poor choice. 

[00:10:36] She married a vain, drunken, unprincipled and treacherous young man, called Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. 

[00:10:45] If you’ve noticed that he shares the same surname as her, well done, good spot. Yes, you are right, he is her cousin. 

[00:10:55] He is a very beautiful man and he and Mary make a lovely couple as they dance together, but, along with his many disadvantages listed above, he is promiscuous, bisexual, and power-hungry

[00:11:12] For him, a big attraction of the marriage is that he can not only become King of Scotland but, because he is a man, he can become the dominant party in the partnership of the two, married monarchs

[00:11:27] So, back to the sad unfolding of Mary‘s story. 

[00:11:31] I am sorry, but life is only going to get worse for her. 

[00:11:36] She finds herself at the centre of a power struggle, which results in two bloody and semi-public murders. 

[00:11:45] First of all, meet her private secretary, David Rizzio; an Italian who is possibly her lover and probably Darnley’s as well, he is sleeping both with Mary and her husband. 

[00:12:00] This young Italian is literally pulled out from behind the young Queen by one of a band of attackers and stabbed to death 56 times in the next door room of her palace in Edinburgh. 

[00:12:15] The final dagger - left ostentatiously in Rizzio’s body is - guess whose? Darnley’s.

[00:12:23] A mere two years later, her decadent husband, Darnley is himself murdered. 

[00:12:29] It’s not completely clear who murdered him. The finger has been pointed at other Scottish noblemen, and even Mary herself. 

[00:12:39] As all these tragic and bloody events are happening, Mary is continuing to try to find some agreement with her cousin, Queen Elizabeth of England. 

[00:12:50] The situation gets even more complicated when, following Darnley’s murder, public opinion is blaming Mary herself for the murder. 

[00:13:00] Darnley, let’s not forget, was Mary’s cousin but he was also Elizabeth’s. These royal marriages were all family affairs, one could say.

[00:13:10] By now Mary has become attached to another dubious man, James Hepburn, The Earl of Bothwell. 

[00:13:19] To cut a long and complicated story short, Bothwell is accused of the murder of Darnley, but found not guilty. 

[00:13:28] Although many events in Mary‘s life are well documented, the circumstances of her subsequent marriage to Bothwell are much less clear.

[00:13:38] He certainly abducted her - it looks likely that he raped her and then made it very difficult for her not to marry him, which she did in May 1567. 

[00:13:50] This marriage, like the previous two, proved to be another bad move for Mary. 

[00:13:56] War between the different groups in Scotland had become a regular feature of Mary's life during her short reign as Queen, but now power started to slip away from her. 

[00:14:09] In July 1567, she gave up her role as Queen. 

[00:14:14] Fearful for her own life and also the life of the young prince that was the result of her and Darnley’s union, Prince James, she fled to England, seeking the protection of her cousin, Elizabeth. 

[00:14:30] Although we don’t know exactly what was going through her mind, perhaps she thought that her cousin, another woman struggling to keep control over her position in a world dominated by men, might have helped her.

[00:14:45] Unfortunately, she badly misjudged her cousin’s generosity.

[00:14:51] She was arrested, and kept prisoner in various castles in England for the next 19.5 years.

[00:14:58] Elizabeth’s spies were continually looking out for evidence of treason, or Mary plotting against her cousin, and this was supposedly found in 1587, almost 20 years after she was first arrested.

[00:15:16] On February 8th 1587, she was taken to Fotheringhay Castle, a castle in the north east of England, and executed

[00:15:27] To the last minute of her life, she was aware of the power of theatre. 

[00:15:33] For her execution, she chose to wear the colours of Catholic martyrdom – the dark red of dried blood. 

[00:15:42] So, to the question of Mary’s relationship with England, how important was this and how much did this influence events? 

[00:15:51] The answers to these questions are “very much” and “greatly”.

[00:15:56] Remember that Mary considered herself to be the divinely-ordained, true Queen of England: she felt that it should be she, rather than Elizabeth, on both the English and Scottish thrones

[00:16:11] If it wasn’t possible for Mary to be queen of England, she wanted her heir, Prince James, to be declared by Elizabeth the heir to the English throne on Elizabeth‘s death. 

[00:16:24] Elizabeth was understandably reluctant to agree to any such arrangement with Mary, as she knew that it might mean Catholic supporters, either in England or in continental Europe, might come to Mary’s assistance.

[00:16:40] Elizabeth was incredibly fearful of anyone plotting against her, and actually made any discussion about who would succeed her a treasonable offence punishable by death. 

[00:16:54] Now, moving on to the cultural impact of Mary’s tragic life, she has provided much material for historical novelists and filmmakers. 

[00:17:05] You may well have seen the movie, Mary Queen of Scots which came out in 2018, and if you are asking me, was really not very good at all.

[00:17:15] There was another film in 2013. 

[00:17:18] There are many more - in fact one of the earliest films ever made was about her execution - it was made in 1895! 

[00:17:28] Both of these recent films could not resist the dramatic and cinematic opportunities that a meeting between Mary and Elizabeth gave to the films. 

[00:17:39] Unfortunately, no such meeting ever took place. The two rival monarchs, the two female cousins, never met.

[00:17:48] Compared to the story recounted in the earlier episode – of William Wallace, the so-called Braveheart rebel against English power, Mary‘s story does not provide an easy folklore tale to inspire modern day campaigners for Scottish independence. 

[00:18:06] If the story of Mary Queen of Scots tells us anything, it’s that although the English are nasty, the Scots are just as bad.

[00:18:15] One theme that is hard to ignore in the story of Mary Queen of Scots is that of the plight or situation of a young woman in a world where powerful men do not accept her authority simply because of her gender. 

[00:18:31] She was considered biologically unfit to be queen, and almost from the day she was born she was considered inadequate for the role that she believed God had given her.

[00:18:45] There were plenty of accusations against her of sexual promiscuity, of having multiple sexual partners. 

[00:18:53] This might have been true, but the point is that this was accepted behaviour for men, including all of her husbands, but was considered to be a sin for a woman.

[00:19:06] Life was not easy as a woman in the sixteenth century, and when you have your powerful cousin on the throne of England, as well as countless enemies who are supposedly meant to be your countrymen, well it certainly wasn’t easy for Mary Queen of Scots.

[00:19:22] Now, to our final section, the weird and bizarre facts from her sad, short life. 

[00:19:29] Although I’ve just said that life wasn’t easy for Mary Queen of Scots, she did enjoy earthly pleasures, and lived a life of material luxury.

[00:19:39] She had four close companions, known as ladies-in-waiting, conveniently they were all called Mary. And unsurprisingly, they were known as the Four Marys. 

[00:19:51] At a time where coaches were very rare, Mary had a coach that looked like a four poster bed on wheels. A four poster bed is one of these old-style beds with a pillar at each of its corners, and often curtains on the side.

[00:20:09] She had masses, huge amounts, of gorgeous, expensive clothes, and she certainly didn’t travel lightly.

[00:20:17] Her baggage train when she moved from castle to castle required at least 30 carts. 

[00:20:25] She ate off silver plates and had 36 pairs of velvet shoes.

[00:20:31] In her early days back in Scotland, in 1563, a French poet who was a member of her court became so consumed by love for her that he hid under her bed and waited for her to return, so he could declare his love for her.

[00:20:50] This turned out to be a bad idea.

[00:20:53] He was discovered, charged with high treason, and executed.

[00:20:57] Now, coming to a couple of slightly gruesome facts about Mary’s own execution, as was typical at the time she forgave her own executioner, saying “I hope you shall make an end to all my troubles”.

[00:21:13] Unfortunately the executioner didn’t do a very good job of it, and instead of cutting her head off cleanly, he missed the first time and hit the back of her head, and it took him another two attempts to remove the head from the body.

[00:21:28] As he attempted to lift her severed head up so that the waiting crowd of 100 people could see that she was dead, he found that Mary’s famous red hair he was holding was in fact a wig and that her real hair underneath was grey and cut short. 

[00:21:48] As her body was removed, her favourite pet dog, a small Skye terrier, was found sheltering under her skirts. 

[00:21:57] When the poor dog was discovered it ran about whining miserably and lay down in the widening pool of blood that was spreading in the gap between her head and her shoulders.

[00:22:09] Let’s leave on a positive note though. 

[00:22:11] Mary’s personal motto was the French “En ma fin est mon commencement”, which you could translate in English to “In My End is My Beginning”. 

[00:22:22] Well, in fact this turned out to have a visionary or prophetic quality: in 1603, on Elizabeth’s death, Mary’s only son, Prince James became King James I of the combined crowns of England and Scotland. 

[00:22:39] He was the first king of both countries, and paved the way for a United Kingdom of England and Scotland.

[00:22:47] Indeed, the current Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth II is the 13th generation of succession from her distant ancestor, Mary Queen of Scots.

[00:22:59] So, although she might not have known it as the executioner’s axe was coming down towards her head, she is a woman who forever changed the course of British history.

[00:23:13] OK then, that is it for today's episode on the tragic life of Mary Queen of Scots, a woman whose life was dominated by plots, betrayal, murder, and a series of terrible men.

[00:23:27] I guess the moral of the story here is don’t trust your cousins, and that men often have bad intentions

[00:23:35] So, that is it for part two of this mini-series. Next up will be an episode on Bonnie Prince Charlie, a man who tried to retake the Scottish throne from the English, and well, didn’t quite manage it.

[00:23:50] As always, I would love to know what you thought of this episode, and of this mini-series in general.

[00:23:56] Scotland is a topic that is very dear to my heart, as my dad is Scottish and I grew up for much of my early life just outside Edinburgh, so I would love to know what you thought of this one.

[00:24:08] The place to do that is in our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com.

[00:24:15] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:24:20] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.

[END OF EPISODE]


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[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:21] I'm Alastair Budge and today is part two of our three-part mini series on Scottish Heroes. 

[00:00:29] In today’s episode we are going to talk about the amazing life of an extraordinary lady – a royal who combined in so many ways the romance and glitter of France with the romance and mystery of Scotland. 

[00:00:44] Her name was Mary Queen of Scots.

[00:00:48] As in the other episodes in this mini series, this episode is split into several sections: some background to what was happening in Scotland and England at the time of her birth; a brief account of her life; a discussion about the relationship with Scotland’s powerful neighbour, England; her legacy to the folklore of Scottish nationalism; and finally, we will end with some weird and bizarre facts about Mary. 

[00:01:19] Now, there is a lot to get through, so let’s get started.

[00:01:24] Let’s begin with an outline of what was going on in the British Isles when Mary Stuart, otherwise known as Mary Queen of Scots was born, on the 8th of December 1542.

[00:01:39] Scotland and England were both independent kingdoms, they both had their own monarchs.

[00:01:46] When Mary Queen of Scots was born, her father James V was the king of Scotland.

[00:01:53] On the English throne was Henry VIII, the king you may know of because of his fondness for executing his wives.

[00:02:02] But crucially, just six days after Mary was born, her father died. She had no legitimate brothers and sisters, which meant that she was first in line to be queen of Scotland. 

[00:02:17] And she became queen on his death, aged just six days old.

[00:02:23] Obviously, a six-day-old baby doesn’t make a very good monarch, so Scotland was ruled by a collection of what’s called “regents” until Mary was old enough to take back the throne.

[00:02:36] Mary wasn’t only in line to the Scottish throne though. 

[00:02:41] Mary’s grandmother, Margaret, was the English king, Henry VIII’s, older sister. 

[00:02:48] In England, Henry VIII had already gone through 5 wives by the time that Mary was born, he did have some direct heirs, but their claim to the English throne was, let’s say complicated, given that he had broken with the Catholic Church.

[00:03:07] So, long story short, Mary was also an indirect heir to the English throne.

[00:03:15] This made her an incredibly eligible bride, but it also made her a threat.

[00:03:24] Henry VIII wanted his infant son, Edward, to be engaged to marry the infant Scottish Queen. 

[00:03:32] Mary had this really strong claim to the English throne, and if she were married to Edward, then not only would this threat be neutralised, but he could also become King of Scotland.

[00:03:47] There was much discussion about this, and disagreement within the Scottish nobility.

[00:03:54] The decision was taken to reject Henry, and instead to have Mary engaged to the three-year-old son of King Henry II of France.

[00:04:05] The English King, Henry VIII, was furious about being rejected, and invaded the southern part of Scotland, rampaging through border towns.

[00:04:17] It was decided that Mary wasn’t safe in Scotland, so she was whisked away, she was taken away to France.

[00:04:26] Now, you might be asking yourself, why should there have been such a link between France and Scotland? 

[00:04:33] Well this alliance and long-standing friendship between the two countries was based on mutual self interest - the self interest which comes from having a common enemy – England. 

[00:04:47] The relationship was described using the Scottish word for old – the Auld - A U L D - the Auld Alliance. 

[00:04:57] From her arrival in France in 1547 until her eventual return to Scotland in 1561, Mary had a highly privileged childhood in arguably the most glittering and wealthy royal court in the world. 

[00:05:15] She was a charismatic, beautiful, talented, and clever young woman, and she flourished at the French court.

[00:05:24] Unfortunately, as will become a theme in Mary’s life, she was dragged down by a man.

[00:05:32] The Dauphin, or Crown Prince, Francis, might have seemed like a great catch

[00:05:39] Indeed, he was heir to the French throne.

[00:05:42] After they married in April 1558, with Mary just 15 years old, things swiftly went downhill.

[00:05:52] He was a prolific womaniser, he was completely unfaithful to Mary, and their marriage was not a happy one.

[00:06:01] He became king of France a year later, in 1559, but died in 1560.

[00:06:09] Not only did his premature death mean that she lost her husband and status as Queen of France, but it also meant that she could be dominated – you could say bullied – by Francis’s mother – her mother-in-law – Catherine of Medici. 

[00:06:27] Meanwhile, back in England Elizabeth I had become queen. 

[00:06:32] She was the sole surviving heir to Henry VIII, but wasn’t considered by Catholics to be a legitimate heir

[00:06:41] She was Henry’s daughter from Anne Boleyn, but Anne was Henry’s second wife, after his divorce from Catherine of Aragon, hence many Catholics didn’t consider it to be a legitimate marriage.

[00:06:56] After the death of Mary’s mother back in Scotland, Mary returned to the country of her birth in the summer of 1561, aged 18.

[00:07:07] Her intention was to retake the throne, and to rule over Scotland.

[00:07:13] Imagine the sense of excitement and nervousness – trepidation, you could say – as Mary’s small fleet of ships reached the harbour of Edinburgh’s port, Leith. 

[00:07:26] It is August but the Scottish air is typically chilly and Mary’s boats have made such good time that there is no one there to greet her. 

[00:07:36] Out steps this beautiful, eighteen year old: a charismatic, lively, young woman - 180cm tall with light brownish red hair, it must have been quite something to behold

[00:07:52] She has kept her Scottish language – the dialect known as Lowland Scots – but she is happier in French and has no real knowledge of the land that she is expected to rule over. 

[00:08:06] For the past 14 years, in her absence, the real power has been exercised by a group of 24 Scottish nobles or aristocrats. 

[00:08:16] Scotland, a country of a mere 800,000 people, is a very complex and divided society, with many people owing much greater loyalty to the leader of their clan or wider family than to the king or queen. 

[00:08:34] Being a young woman from abroad was not a good basis for success. 

[00:08:40] There is one other big issue which needs mentioning here. 

[00:08:45] Mary was a Catholic. 

[00:08:47] Scotland at this time was becoming dominated by a particular form of Protestantism which had its origin in the teachings of a Frenchman called Jean Calvin – Calvinism was the resulting religious movement. 

[00:09:02] Although Mary knew that she had to accept the prevailing Scottish religion, there was no getting around the fact of her Catholicism. 

[00:09:12] The man who embodied this negative attitude towards her was a fearsome Calvinist priest or minister called John Knox. 

[00:09:23] Preaching sermons in his Edinburgh church of two or three hours in length every Sunday, he was openly aggressive in in his opposition to Mary: she was a Catholic; she was a woman and her behaviour as a fun-loving, brightly dressed and extravagant aristocrat from the decadent, pleasure-loving French court meant that there was a lot of ammunition for Knox to use against her. 

[00:09:53] Surrounded by powerful nobles who were plotting against her, and attacked by the most powerful churchman in the country and confused by the many challenges of trying to rule this divided country, she was also in search of a husband. 

[00:10:10] Or, to put it more accurately, other people, notably her elder cousin, Elizabeth of England, or her French relatives and other European royalty were searching for a suitable husband for her. 

[00:10:26] Unfortunately, as is becoming something of a recurring feature in this doomed young woman‘s life, she made a poor choice. 

[00:10:36] She married a vain, drunken, unprincipled and treacherous young man, called Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. 

[00:10:45] If you’ve noticed that he shares the same surname as her, well done, good spot. Yes, you are right, he is her cousin. 

[00:10:55] He is a very beautiful man and he and Mary make a lovely couple as they dance together, but, along with his many disadvantages listed above, he is promiscuous, bisexual, and power-hungry

[00:11:12] For him, a big attraction of the marriage is that he can not only become King of Scotland but, because he is a man, he can become the dominant party in the partnership of the two, married monarchs

[00:11:27] So, back to the sad unfolding of Mary‘s story. 

[00:11:31] I am sorry, but life is only going to get worse for her. 

[00:11:36] She finds herself at the centre of a power struggle, which results in two bloody and semi-public murders. 

[00:11:45] First of all, meet her private secretary, David Rizzio; an Italian who is possibly her lover and probably Darnley’s as well, he is sleeping both with Mary and her husband. 

[00:12:00] This young Italian is literally pulled out from behind the young Queen by one of a band of attackers and stabbed to death 56 times in the next door room of her palace in Edinburgh. 

[00:12:15] The final dagger - left ostentatiously in Rizzio’s body is - guess whose? Darnley’s.

[00:12:23] A mere two years later, her decadent husband, Darnley is himself murdered. 

[00:12:29] It’s not completely clear who murdered him. The finger has been pointed at other Scottish noblemen, and even Mary herself. 

[00:12:39] As all these tragic and bloody events are happening, Mary is continuing to try to find some agreement with her cousin, Queen Elizabeth of England. 

[00:12:50] The situation gets even more complicated when, following Darnley’s murder, public opinion is blaming Mary herself for the murder. 

[00:13:00] Darnley, let’s not forget, was Mary’s cousin but he was also Elizabeth’s. These royal marriages were all family affairs, one could say.

[00:13:10] By now Mary has become attached to another dubious man, James Hepburn, The Earl of Bothwell. 

[00:13:19] To cut a long and complicated story short, Bothwell is accused of the murder of Darnley, but found not guilty. 

[00:13:28] Although many events in Mary‘s life are well documented, the circumstances of her subsequent marriage to Bothwell are much less clear.

[00:13:38] He certainly abducted her - it looks likely that he raped her and then made it very difficult for her not to marry him, which she did in May 1567. 

[00:13:50] This marriage, like the previous two, proved to be another bad move for Mary. 

[00:13:56] War between the different groups in Scotland had become a regular feature of Mary's life during her short reign as Queen, but now power started to slip away from her. 

[00:14:09] In July 1567, she gave up her role as Queen. 

[00:14:14] Fearful for her own life and also the life of the young prince that was the result of her and Darnley’s union, Prince James, she fled to England, seeking the protection of her cousin, Elizabeth. 

[00:14:30] Although we don’t know exactly what was going through her mind, perhaps she thought that her cousin, another woman struggling to keep control over her position in a world dominated by men, might have helped her.

[00:14:45] Unfortunately, she badly misjudged her cousin’s generosity.

[00:14:51] She was arrested, and kept prisoner in various castles in England for the next 19.5 years.

[00:14:58] Elizabeth’s spies were continually looking out for evidence of treason, or Mary plotting against her cousin, and this was supposedly found in 1587, almost 20 years after she was first arrested.

[00:15:16] On February 8th 1587, she was taken to Fotheringhay Castle, a castle in the north east of England, and executed

[00:15:27] To the last minute of her life, she was aware of the power of theatre. 

[00:15:33] For her execution, she chose to wear the colours of Catholic martyrdom – the dark red of dried blood. 

[00:15:42] So, to the question of Mary’s relationship with England, how important was this and how much did this influence events? 

[00:15:51] The answers to these questions are “very much” and “greatly”.

[00:15:56] Remember that Mary considered herself to be the divinely-ordained, true Queen of England: she felt that it should be she, rather than Elizabeth, on both the English and Scottish thrones

[00:16:11] If it wasn’t possible for Mary to be queen of England, she wanted her heir, Prince James, to be declared by Elizabeth the heir to the English throne on Elizabeth‘s death. 

[00:16:24] Elizabeth was understandably reluctant to agree to any such arrangement with Mary, as she knew that it might mean Catholic supporters, either in England or in continental Europe, might come to Mary’s assistance.

[00:16:40] Elizabeth was incredibly fearful of anyone plotting against her, and actually made any discussion about who would succeed her a treasonable offence punishable by death. 

[00:16:54] Now, moving on to the cultural impact of Mary’s tragic life, she has provided much material for historical novelists and filmmakers. 

[00:17:05] You may well have seen the movie, Mary Queen of Scots which came out in 2018, and if you are asking me, was really not very good at all.

[00:17:15] There was another film in 2013. 

[00:17:18] There are many more - in fact one of the earliest films ever made was about her execution - it was made in 1895! 

[00:17:28] Both of these recent films could not resist the dramatic and cinematic opportunities that a meeting between Mary and Elizabeth gave to the films. 

[00:17:39] Unfortunately, no such meeting ever took place. The two rival monarchs, the two female cousins, never met.

[00:17:48] Compared to the story recounted in the earlier episode – of William Wallace, the so-called Braveheart rebel against English power, Mary‘s story does not provide an easy folklore tale to inspire modern day campaigners for Scottish independence. 

[00:18:06] If the story of Mary Queen of Scots tells us anything, it’s that although the English are nasty, the Scots are just as bad.

[00:18:15] One theme that is hard to ignore in the story of Mary Queen of Scots is that of the plight or situation of a young woman in a world where powerful men do not accept her authority simply because of her gender. 

[00:18:31] She was considered biologically unfit to be queen, and almost from the day she was born she was considered inadequate for the role that she believed God had given her.

[00:18:45] There were plenty of accusations against her of sexual promiscuity, of having multiple sexual partners. 

[00:18:53] This might have been true, but the point is that this was accepted behaviour for men, including all of her husbands, but was considered to be a sin for a woman.

[00:19:06] Life was not easy as a woman in the sixteenth century, and when you have your powerful cousin on the throne of England, as well as countless enemies who are supposedly meant to be your countrymen, well it certainly wasn’t easy for Mary Queen of Scots.

[00:19:22] Now, to our final section, the weird and bizarre facts from her sad, short life. 

[00:19:29] Although I’ve just said that life wasn’t easy for Mary Queen of Scots, she did enjoy earthly pleasures, and lived a life of material luxury.

[00:19:39] She had four close companions, known as ladies-in-waiting, conveniently they were all called Mary. And unsurprisingly, they were known as the Four Marys. 

[00:19:51] At a time where coaches were very rare, Mary had a coach that looked like a four poster bed on wheels. A four poster bed is one of these old-style beds with a pillar at each of its corners, and often curtains on the side.

[00:20:09] She had masses, huge amounts, of gorgeous, expensive clothes, and she certainly didn’t travel lightly.

[00:20:17] Her baggage train when she moved from castle to castle required at least 30 carts. 

[00:20:25] She ate off silver plates and had 36 pairs of velvet shoes.

[00:20:31] In her early days back in Scotland, in 1563, a French poet who was a member of her court became so consumed by love for her that he hid under her bed and waited for her to return, so he could declare his love for her.

[00:20:50] This turned out to be a bad idea.

[00:20:53] He was discovered, charged with high treason, and executed.

[00:20:57] Now, coming to a couple of slightly gruesome facts about Mary’s own execution, as was typical at the time she forgave her own executioner, saying “I hope you shall make an end to all my troubles”.

[00:21:13] Unfortunately the executioner didn’t do a very good job of it, and instead of cutting her head off cleanly, he missed the first time and hit the back of her head, and it took him another two attempts to remove the head from the body.

[00:21:28] As he attempted to lift her severed head up so that the waiting crowd of 100 people could see that she was dead, he found that Mary’s famous red hair he was holding was in fact a wig and that her real hair underneath was grey and cut short. 

[00:21:48] As her body was removed, her favourite pet dog, a small Skye terrier, was found sheltering under her skirts. 

[00:21:57] When the poor dog was discovered it ran about whining miserably and lay down in the widening pool of blood that was spreading in the gap between her head and her shoulders.

[00:22:09] Let’s leave on a positive note though. 

[00:22:11] Mary’s personal motto was the French “En ma fin est mon commencement”, which you could translate in English to “In My End is My Beginning”. 

[00:22:22] Well, in fact this turned out to have a visionary or prophetic quality: in 1603, on Elizabeth’s death, Mary’s only son, Prince James became King James I of the combined crowns of England and Scotland. 

[00:22:39] He was the first king of both countries, and paved the way for a United Kingdom of England and Scotland.

[00:22:47] Indeed, the current Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth II is the 13th generation of succession from her distant ancestor, Mary Queen of Scots.

[00:22:59] So, although she might not have known it as the executioner’s axe was coming down towards her head, she is a woman who forever changed the course of British history.

[00:23:13] OK then, that is it for today's episode on the tragic life of Mary Queen of Scots, a woman whose life was dominated by plots, betrayal, murder, and a series of terrible men.

[00:23:27] I guess the moral of the story here is don’t trust your cousins, and that men often have bad intentions

[00:23:35] So, that is it for part two of this mini-series. Next up will be an episode on Bonnie Prince Charlie, a man who tried to retake the Scottish throne from the English, and well, didn’t quite manage it.

[00:23:50] As always, I would love to know what you thought of this episode, and of this mini-series in general.

[00:23:56] Scotland is a topic that is very dear to my heart, as my dad is Scottish and I grew up for much of my early life just outside Edinburgh, so I would love to know what you thought of this one.

[00:24:08] The place to do that is in our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com.

[00:24:15] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:24:20] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.

[END OF EPISODE]


[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:21] I'm Alastair Budge and today is part two of our three-part mini series on Scottish Heroes. 

[00:00:29] In today’s episode we are going to talk about the amazing life of an extraordinary lady – a royal who combined in so many ways the romance and glitter of France with the romance and mystery of Scotland. 

[00:00:44] Her name was Mary Queen of Scots.

[00:00:48] As in the other episodes in this mini series, this episode is split into several sections: some background to what was happening in Scotland and England at the time of her birth; a brief account of her life; a discussion about the relationship with Scotland’s powerful neighbour, England; her legacy to the folklore of Scottish nationalism; and finally, we will end with some weird and bizarre facts about Mary. 

[00:01:19] Now, there is a lot to get through, so let’s get started.

[00:01:24] Let’s begin with an outline of what was going on in the British Isles when Mary Stuart, otherwise known as Mary Queen of Scots was born, on the 8th of December 1542.

[00:01:39] Scotland and England were both independent kingdoms, they both had their own monarchs.

[00:01:46] When Mary Queen of Scots was born, her father James V was the king of Scotland.

[00:01:53] On the English throne was Henry VIII, the king you may know of because of his fondness for executing his wives.

[00:02:02] But crucially, just six days after Mary was born, her father died. She had no legitimate brothers and sisters, which meant that she was first in line to be queen of Scotland. 

[00:02:17] And she became queen on his death, aged just six days old.

[00:02:23] Obviously, a six-day-old baby doesn’t make a very good monarch, so Scotland was ruled by a collection of what’s called “regents” until Mary was old enough to take back the throne.

[00:02:36] Mary wasn’t only in line to the Scottish throne though. 

[00:02:41] Mary’s grandmother, Margaret, was the English king, Henry VIII’s, older sister. 

[00:02:48] In England, Henry VIII had already gone through 5 wives by the time that Mary was born, he did have some direct heirs, but their claim to the English throne was, let’s say complicated, given that he had broken with the Catholic Church.

[00:03:07] So, long story short, Mary was also an indirect heir to the English throne.

[00:03:15] This made her an incredibly eligible bride, but it also made her a threat.

[00:03:24] Henry VIII wanted his infant son, Edward, to be engaged to marry the infant Scottish Queen. 

[00:03:32] Mary had this really strong claim to the English throne, and if she were married to Edward, then not only would this threat be neutralised, but he could also become King of Scotland.

[00:03:47] There was much discussion about this, and disagreement within the Scottish nobility.

[00:03:54] The decision was taken to reject Henry, and instead to have Mary engaged to the three-year-old son of King Henry II of France.

[00:04:05] The English King, Henry VIII, was furious about being rejected, and invaded the southern part of Scotland, rampaging through border towns.

[00:04:17] It was decided that Mary wasn’t safe in Scotland, so she was whisked away, she was taken away to France.

[00:04:26] Now, you might be asking yourself, why should there have been such a link between France and Scotland? 

[00:04:33] Well this alliance and long-standing friendship between the two countries was based on mutual self interest - the self interest which comes from having a common enemy – England. 

[00:04:47] The relationship was described using the Scottish word for old – the Auld - A U L D - the Auld Alliance. 

[00:04:57] From her arrival in France in 1547 until her eventual return to Scotland in 1561, Mary had a highly privileged childhood in arguably the most glittering and wealthy royal court in the world. 

[00:05:15] She was a charismatic, beautiful, talented, and clever young woman, and she flourished at the French court.

[00:05:24] Unfortunately, as will become a theme in Mary’s life, she was dragged down by a man.

[00:05:32] The Dauphin, or Crown Prince, Francis, might have seemed like a great catch

[00:05:39] Indeed, he was heir to the French throne.

[00:05:42] After they married in April 1558, with Mary just 15 years old, things swiftly went downhill.

[00:05:52] He was a prolific womaniser, he was completely unfaithful to Mary, and their marriage was not a happy one.

[00:06:01] He became king of France a year later, in 1559, but died in 1560.

[00:06:09] Not only did his premature death mean that she lost her husband and status as Queen of France, but it also meant that she could be dominated – you could say bullied – by Francis’s mother – her mother-in-law – Catherine of Medici. 

[00:06:27] Meanwhile, back in England Elizabeth I had become queen. 

[00:06:32] She was the sole surviving heir to Henry VIII, but wasn’t considered by Catholics to be a legitimate heir

[00:06:41] She was Henry’s daughter from Anne Boleyn, but Anne was Henry’s second wife, after his divorce from Catherine of Aragon, hence many Catholics didn’t consider it to be a legitimate marriage.

[00:06:56] After the death of Mary’s mother back in Scotland, Mary returned to the country of her birth in the summer of 1561, aged 18.

[00:07:07] Her intention was to retake the throne, and to rule over Scotland.

[00:07:13] Imagine the sense of excitement and nervousness – trepidation, you could say – as Mary’s small fleet of ships reached the harbour of Edinburgh’s port, Leith. 

[00:07:26] It is August but the Scottish air is typically chilly and Mary’s boats have made such good time that there is no one there to greet her. 

[00:07:36] Out steps this beautiful, eighteen year old: a charismatic, lively, young woman - 180cm tall with light brownish red hair, it must have been quite something to behold

[00:07:52] She has kept her Scottish language – the dialect known as Lowland Scots – but she is happier in French and has no real knowledge of the land that she is expected to rule over. 

[00:08:06] For the past 14 years, in her absence, the real power has been exercised by a group of 24 Scottish nobles or aristocrats. 

[00:08:16] Scotland, a country of a mere 800,000 people, is a very complex and divided society, with many people owing much greater loyalty to the leader of their clan or wider family than to the king or queen. 

[00:08:34] Being a young woman from abroad was not a good basis for success. 

[00:08:40] There is one other big issue which needs mentioning here. 

[00:08:45] Mary was a Catholic. 

[00:08:47] Scotland at this time was becoming dominated by a particular form of Protestantism which had its origin in the teachings of a Frenchman called Jean Calvin – Calvinism was the resulting religious movement. 

[00:09:02] Although Mary knew that she had to accept the prevailing Scottish religion, there was no getting around the fact of her Catholicism. 

[00:09:12] The man who embodied this negative attitude towards her was a fearsome Calvinist priest or minister called John Knox. 

[00:09:23] Preaching sermons in his Edinburgh church of two or three hours in length every Sunday, he was openly aggressive in in his opposition to Mary: she was a Catholic; she was a woman and her behaviour as a fun-loving, brightly dressed and extravagant aristocrat from the decadent, pleasure-loving French court meant that there was a lot of ammunition for Knox to use against her. 

[00:09:53] Surrounded by powerful nobles who were plotting against her, and attacked by the most powerful churchman in the country and confused by the many challenges of trying to rule this divided country, she was also in search of a husband. 

[00:10:10] Or, to put it more accurately, other people, notably her elder cousin, Elizabeth of England, or her French relatives and other European royalty were searching for a suitable husband for her. 

[00:10:26] Unfortunately, as is becoming something of a recurring feature in this doomed young woman‘s life, she made a poor choice. 

[00:10:36] She married a vain, drunken, unprincipled and treacherous young man, called Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. 

[00:10:45] If you’ve noticed that he shares the same surname as her, well done, good spot. Yes, you are right, he is her cousin. 

[00:10:55] He is a very beautiful man and he and Mary make a lovely couple as they dance together, but, along with his many disadvantages listed above, he is promiscuous, bisexual, and power-hungry

[00:11:12] For him, a big attraction of the marriage is that he can not only become King of Scotland but, because he is a man, he can become the dominant party in the partnership of the two, married monarchs

[00:11:27] So, back to the sad unfolding of Mary‘s story. 

[00:11:31] I am sorry, but life is only going to get worse for her. 

[00:11:36] She finds herself at the centre of a power struggle, which results in two bloody and semi-public murders. 

[00:11:45] First of all, meet her private secretary, David Rizzio; an Italian who is possibly her lover and probably Darnley’s as well, he is sleeping both with Mary and her husband. 

[00:12:00] This young Italian is literally pulled out from behind the young Queen by one of a band of attackers and stabbed to death 56 times in the next door room of her palace in Edinburgh. 

[00:12:15] The final dagger - left ostentatiously in Rizzio’s body is - guess whose? Darnley’s.

[00:12:23] A mere two years later, her decadent husband, Darnley is himself murdered. 

[00:12:29] It’s not completely clear who murdered him. The finger has been pointed at other Scottish noblemen, and even Mary herself. 

[00:12:39] As all these tragic and bloody events are happening, Mary is continuing to try to find some agreement with her cousin, Queen Elizabeth of England. 

[00:12:50] The situation gets even more complicated when, following Darnley’s murder, public opinion is blaming Mary herself for the murder. 

[00:13:00] Darnley, let’s not forget, was Mary’s cousin but he was also Elizabeth’s. These royal marriages were all family affairs, one could say.

[00:13:10] By now Mary has become attached to another dubious man, James Hepburn, The Earl of Bothwell. 

[00:13:19] To cut a long and complicated story short, Bothwell is accused of the murder of Darnley, but found not guilty. 

[00:13:28] Although many events in Mary‘s life are well documented, the circumstances of her subsequent marriage to Bothwell are much less clear.

[00:13:38] He certainly abducted her - it looks likely that he raped her and then made it very difficult for her not to marry him, which she did in May 1567. 

[00:13:50] This marriage, like the previous two, proved to be another bad move for Mary. 

[00:13:56] War between the different groups in Scotland had become a regular feature of Mary's life during her short reign as Queen, but now power started to slip away from her. 

[00:14:09] In July 1567, she gave up her role as Queen. 

[00:14:14] Fearful for her own life and also the life of the young prince that was the result of her and Darnley’s union, Prince James, she fled to England, seeking the protection of her cousin, Elizabeth. 

[00:14:30] Although we don’t know exactly what was going through her mind, perhaps she thought that her cousin, another woman struggling to keep control over her position in a world dominated by men, might have helped her.

[00:14:45] Unfortunately, she badly misjudged her cousin’s generosity.

[00:14:51] She was arrested, and kept prisoner in various castles in England for the next 19.5 years.

[00:14:58] Elizabeth’s spies were continually looking out for evidence of treason, or Mary plotting against her cousin, and this was supposedly found in 1587, almost 20 years after she was first arrested.

[00:15:16] On February 8th 1587, she was taken to Fotheringhay Castle, a castle in the north east of England, and executed

[00:15:27] To the last minute of her life, she was aware of the power of theatre. 

[00:15:33] For her execution, she chose to wear the colours of Catholic martyrdom – the dark red of dried blood. 

[00:15:42] So, to the question of Mary’s relationship with England, how important was this and how much did this influence events? 

[00:15:51] The answers to these questions are “very much” and “greatly”.

[00:15:56] Remember that Mary considered herself to be the divinely-ordained, true Queen of England: she felt that it should be she, rather than Elizabeth, on both the English and Scottish thrones

[00:16:11] If it wasn’t possible for Mary to be queen of England, she wanted her heir, Prince James, to be declared by Elizabeth the heir to the English throne on Elizabeth‘s death. 

[00:16:24] Elizabeth was understandably reluctant to agree to any such arrangement with Mary, as she knew that it might mean Catholic supporters, either in England or in continental Europe, might come to Mary’s assistance.

[00:16:40] Elizabeth was incredibly fearful of anyone plotting against her, and actually made any discussion about who would succeed her a treasonable offence punishable by death. 

[00:16:54] Now, moving on to the cultural impact of Mary’s tragic life, she has provided much material for historical novelists and filmmakers. 

[00:17:05] You may well have seen the movie, Mary Queen of Scots which came out in 2018, and if you are asking me, was really not very good at all.

[00:17:15] There was another film in 2013. 

[00:17:18] There are many more - in fact one of the earliest films ever made was about her execution - it was made in 1895! 

[00:17:28] Both of these recent films could not resist the dramatic and cinematic opportunities that a meeting between Mary and Elizabeth gave to the films. 

[00:17:39] Unfortunately, no such meeting ever took place. The two rival monarchs, the two female cousins, never met.

[00:17:48] Compared to the story recounted in the earlier episode – of William Wallace, the so-called Braveheart rebel against English power, Mary‘s story does not provide an easy folklore tale to inspire modern day campaigners for Scottish independence. 

[00:18:06] If the story of Mary Queen of Scots tells us anything, it’s that although the English are nasty, the Scots are just as bad.

[00:18:15] One theme that is hard to ignore in the story of Mary Queen of Scots is that of the plight or situation of a young woman in a world where powerful men do not accept her authority simply because of her gender. 

[00:18:31] She was considered biologically unfit to be queen, and almost from the day she was born she was considered inadequate for the role that she believed God had given her.

[00:18:45] There were plenty of accusations against her of sexual promiscuity, of having multiple sexual partners. 

[00:18:53] This might have been true, but the point is that this was accepted behaviour for men, including all of her husbands, but was considered to be a sin for a woman.

[00:19:06] Life was not easy as a woman in the sixteenth century, and when you have your powerful cousin on the throne of England, as well as countless enemies who are supposedly meant to be your countrymen, well it certainly wasn’t easy for Mary Queen of Scots.

[00:19:22] Now, to our final section, the weird and bizarre facts from her sad, short life. 

[00:19:29] Although I’ve just said that life wasn’t easy for Mary Queen of Scots, she did enjoy earthly pleasures, and lived a life of material luxury.

[00:19:39] She had four close companions, known as ladies-in-waiting, conveniently they were all called Mary. And unsurprisingly, they were known as the Four Marys. 

[00:19:51] At a time where coaches were very rare, Mary had a coach that looked like a four poster bed on wheels. A four poster bed is one of these old-style beds with a pillar at each of its corners, and often curtains on the side.

[00:20:09] She had masses, huge amounts, of gorgeous, expensive clothes, and she certainly didn’t travel lightly.

[00:20:17] Her baggage train when she moved from castle to castle required at least 30 carts. 

[00:20:25] She ate off silver plates and had 36 pairs of velvet shoes.

[00:20:31] In her early days back in Scotland, in 1563, a French poet who was a member of her court became so consumed by love for her that he hid under her bed and waited for her to return, so he could declare his love for her.

[00:20:50] This turned out to be a bad idea.

[00:20:53] He was discovered, charged with high treason, and executed.

[00:20:57] Now, coming to a couple of slightly gruesome facts about Mary’s own execution, as was typical at the time she forgave her own executioner, saying “I hope you shall make an end to all my troubles”.

[00:21:13] Unfortunately the executioner didn’t do a very good job of it, and instead of cutting her head off cleanly, he missed the first time and hit the back of her head, and it took him another two attempts to remove the head from the body.

[00:21:28] As he attempted to lift her severed head up so that the waiting crowd of 100 people could see that she was dead, he found that Mary’s famous red hair he was holding was in fact a wig and that her real hair underneath was grey and cut short. 

[00:21:48] As her body was removed, her favourite pet dog, a small Skye terrier, was found sheltering under her skirts. 

[00:21:57] When the poor dog was discovered it ran about whining miserably and lay down in the widening pool of blood that was spreading in the gap between her head and her shoulders.

[00:22:09] Let’s leave on a positive note though. 

[00:22:11] Mary’s personal motto was the French “En ma fin est mon commencement”, which you could translate in English to “In My End is My Beginning”. 

[00:22:22] Well, in fact this turned out to have a visionary or prophetic quality: in 1603, on Elizabeth’s death, Mary’s only son, Prince James became King James I of the combined crowns of England and Scotland. 

[00:22:39] He was the first king of both countries, and paved the way for a United Kingdom of England and Scotland.

[00:22:47] Indeed, the current Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth II is the 13th generation of succession from her distant ancestor, Mary Queen of Scots.

[00:22:59] So, although she might not have known it as the executioner’s axe was coming down towards her head, she is a woman who forever changed the course of British history.

[00:23:13] OK then, that is it for today's episode on the tragic life of Mary Queen of Scots, a woman whose life was dominated by plots, betrayal, murder, and a series of terrible men.

[00:23:27] I guess the moral of the story here is don’t trust your cousins, and that men often have bad intentions

[00:23:35] So, that is it for part two of this mini-series. Next up will be an episode on Bonnie Prince Charlie, a man who tried to retake the Scottish throne from the English, and well, didn’t quite manage it.

[00:23:50] As always, I would love to know what you thought of this episode, and of this mini-series in general.

[00:23:56] Scotland is a topic that is very dear to my heart, as my dad is Scottish and I grew up for much of my early life just outside Edinburgh, so I would love to know what you thought of this one.

[00:24:08] The place to do that is in our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com.

[00:24:15] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:24:20] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.

[END OF EPISODE]