Like her cousin, Elizabeth, Mary Stuart (she always used the French spelling of her surname) is one of the most well-known figures in the sixteenth century, the subject of countless histories, plays, pictures, novels and films. Often portrayed as a romantic, tragic heroine, for historians she is controversial: Jenny Wormald’s biography, Mary, Queen of Scots: a Study in Failure, contrasts with more positive studies like Michael Lynch’s collection, Mary Stewart: Queen in Three Kingdoms.1

Sources for Mary’s life and reign are voluminous and, perhaps befitting a woman who was queen of Scotland and France and who staked a claim to the Crown of England, they are also scattered in many archives. As principally an English archive prior to 1603, State Papers Online focuses on Anglo-Scottish relations from an English perspective and is particularly rich on episodes such as the Darnley marriage. The main classes are SP12, SP52 and SP53. The Border Papers (SP59) are important but not comprehensive because material was taken out to fill gaps in SP52 and SP53; also, the Calendars are not always reliable on dating or summarising this material. The State Papers themselves have to be supplemented with other archives, mainly the Cotton (Caligula), Lansdowne and Additional (including the Yelverton Manuscripts) collections in the British Library (in State Papers Online) and the Cecil Papers at Hatfield House (Calendars on State Papers Online; some documents transcribed in Haynes & Murdin2). The State Papers and Letters of Sir Ralph Sadler, ed. Arthur Collins (2 vols, Edinburgh, 1804) is also useful.

Much Scottish material was printed by the Bannatyne and Maitland Clubs in the nineteenth century; The Hamilton Papers (2 vols, London, 1890–2) are also vital. Contemporary printed accounts, such as John Knox’s History of the Reformation of Religion within the Realm of Scotland (1587 & 1644), George Buchanan’s Ane Detectioun of the doings of Marie, Quene of Scottis (1571) and History of Scotland(1582), and John Leslie, Bishop of Ross’s Defence of the Honour of the Right High, Mighty and Noble Princess Mary, Queen of Scotland and Dowager of France (1569) and History of Scotland (1578) in Latin have to be handled with care as material is sometimes inaccurate, deliberately misleading or cannot be corroborated by other sources.

Documents about Mary’s household, her marriage to Francis II of France, as well as correspondence to/from or about Mary while in France are in the Bibliotheque nationale de France. Much of Mary’s own correspondence has been printed in Alexandre Labanoff’s Lettres, instructions et mémoires de Marie Stuart, Reine D’Écosse (7 vols, London, 1844); some of these were translated by Agnes Strickland in her Letters of Mary Queen of Scots (2 vols, New York, 1844). Mary’s memoirs, as dictated to her secretary, Claude Nau, were published in The History of Mary Stewart from the Murder of Riccio until her Flight into England, ed. J. Stevenson (Edinburgh, 1883) but are of mixed reliability. Some documents are also printed in the large collections of Teulet (Lettres de Marie Stuart (Paris, 1859) and Relations politique de la France et d’Espagne avec l’Écosse au XVIe siècle (5 vols, Paris, 1862)) and others. Inventories of Mary’s clothes and jewels have been printed in Joseph Roberston (ed.), Inventaires de la royne Descosse douairiere de France. Catalogues of the jewels, dresses, furniture, books, and paintings of Mary Queen of Scots, 1556–1569 (Bannatyne Club, 111; Edinburgh, 1863). Works by Guy and Donaldson, listed in the bibliography, have good guides to all this material.

Mary’s life and reign
Mary was born on 8 December 1542, inheriting the Scottish throne a week later on the death of her father, James V. Almost immediately, she was the subject of marriage negotiations with Edward VI of England to forge a peace settlement between the two warring realms. These ‘rough wooings’ eventually collapsed and, in 1548, Mary was taken to France where she was betrothed to the Dauphin, Francis. In France, she was brought up in the royal household, learning music, singing, dancing and needlework. In 1558, she married Francis; a little over a year later (10 July 1559), he became king of France – and Mary, queen. But, her position was short-lived. Francis died in December 1560 and her mother-in-law, Catherine de Medici, keen to sideline the Guises (Mary’s maternal family), blocked marriages both to Francis’s brother, Charles IX, and the King of Spain’s son, Don Carlos. Mary returned to Scotland in 1561.

During her absence, and with English military support, Scotland had installed a Protestant regime under the Lords of the Congregation and ousted the French garrison (the Treaty of Edinburgh).3 Mary met this unfavourable situation well. She agreed not to change the realm’s religion (she was allowed to practice Catholicism privately) and she quickly won the support of leading Protestants, such as Lord William Maitland of Lethington, who began to press the English to acknowledge her claim to the English throne.4 This turnabout by men who owed their position to the English regime was unpopular with the Elizabethan regime. English counsellors, like Burghley, were concerned that Mary was not only Elizabeth’s heir apparent (who would reconcile England to Rome) but feared that France, Spain and the Papacy sought to establish her as the rightful present queen against Elizabeth, the bastard and heretic.5 Indeed, these were fears that Mary herself had fanned when she had quartered the English royal arms with her own when Queen of France and when she had refused to sign the Treaty of Edinburgh (which stated she could not bear the English royal arms or title).6 A docile, Anglophile (and preferably Protestant) regime was thus central to English security; the changing loyalties of men like Maitland threatened this.

Unlike Elizabeth, relatively little research has been conducted on Mary’s queenship: how she governed and addressed the problem of a woman ruler in a man’s world. Rather, the focus of attention has been on Mary’s claims to the English throne, both in the present and future, and how she sought to realise them. This dominated Anglo-Scottish relations and, hence, State Papers Online. In 1561, she opened negotiations with Elizabeth to be recognised as the English Queen’s heir.7 Elizabeth argued that she would not nominate a successor because she knew from her own experience under Mary I how dangerous this could be for the reigning monarch. Some of her counsellors were equally reluctant, largely because Mary was a Catholic, though legal questions about Henry’s will and whether Mary could inherit the Crown because she had been born outside England were also factors. Henry had favoured the descendants of his younger sister, Mary, over those of his elder sister, Margaret, Mary’s paternal grandmother, and lawyers disputed whether he had the power to alter the succession in this way. They also debated whether the Crown, unlike land, could be inherited by aliens.

Whilst Elizabeth probably meant her decision to be final, Mary took it as an opening negotiating position and talks continued. The following year, the two Queens planned to meet at Nottingham. Both sides made much of the monarchs’ femininity: the meeting was presented as a symbolic marriage (Mary sent Elizabeth her picture in a ring akin to a love token) and the succession problem would be resolved through feminine friendship, harmony and love rather than male malice and military force.8 This was exemplified in the masques and entertainments that were planned for the three day meeting.9 Ultimately, it came to naught. Though the English regime saw the advantages of a settlement with Mary, the outbreak of religious civil war in France in the spring of 1562, partly precipitated by the Guise, revived fears of continental Catholic conspiracy against England to oust both Elizabeth and Protestantism and replace them with Mary and Catholicism.10

Though the meeting never took place, attempts to resolve the problems Mary posed to Elizabeth and the succession continued. In 1563 or 1564, Mary renounced her interest in the English Crown (though not the succession). In 1564, Elizabeth proposed that Mary marry her favourite, Robert Dudley.11 It is difficult to know why Elizabeth proposed this. She may have hoped to derail negotiations for Mary to marry Don Carlos which were being conducted at the same time. Alternatively, she may have wanted to marry the Scottish Queen off to a reliable Anglophile/Englishman; this would later be proposed by Leicester himself in 1569. Mary remained anxious about the succession, but Elizabeth would not guarantee to nominate her even if she married Dudley.

Unsurprisingly, the Dudley match faded away, only to be replaced by (for the English) a more dangerous one. In 1565, Elizabeth permitted Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley to go to Scotland to take possession of his Scottish estates (his father had been exiled to England). Whether it was because ‘he was the lustiest and best proportioned long man she had ever seen’12 or because of his dynastic credentials to the English crown (the grandson of Henry VIII’s sister, Margaret, via her second husband, and English-born), Mary quickly developed a close relationship with him and he rarely left her side.13 The English were worried;14 Elizabeth nearly offered Mary the succession if she married Dudley; she also proposed marriages to the Duke of Norfolk and the Earl of Arundel.15 But it was too little, too late: Mary and Darnley were married in July 1565 and Darnley was proclaimed king.16

Though the Darnley match strengthened Mary’s claims to the English crown, its disadvantages quickly became apparent. It alienated key supporters like the Earl of Moray and the Hamiltons who rebelled unsuccessfully (the Chase-about Raid) and went into exile.17 The English simply refused to recognise the marriage at all and Darnley proved himself, in the words of one historian, ‘vain, foolish, idle, and violent, with a rare talent for offending people, including his wife’.18 State Papers Online is rich in detail for this episode of Mary’s life.19 It shows how Mary, first, sought to reconcile with the exiles, and then, in January 1566, abruptly turned on them, aiming to seize their lands, promote Catholic nobles and, it was rumoured, restore the mass.20 State Papers Online also relates the murder, on 7 March 1566, of David Riccio, Mary’s secretary, a pawn in this political game. The exiles – surprisingly joined by Darnley, who had been posing as an arch-Catholic – tried to seize power over Mary by ridding of her ‘evil counsellors’ (i.e. Catholics and non-nobility). They stormed Mary’s quarters at Holyrood and stabbed Riccio 56 times (according to Mary).21 Though he was close to Mary, his murder was more a symbolic gesture than a political gambit. Mary responded effectively, splitting up the exiles and Darnley, forgoing the forfeitures of exiles’ estates and the restoration of the mass, but, crucially, retaining her hold on power.

Amidst all this, Mary did what Elizabeth failed to do: produce a (male) heir. James was born at Edinburgh Castle on 19 June 1566.22 This not only ensured a Stuart succession in Scotland, but strengthened Mary’s claim to the English crown by promising longevity of line.

State Papers Online also contains some of the most fascinating documents about the other murder in Mary’s reign: that of Darnley on 10 February 1567. As part of his report to Cecil, Sir William Drury (ambassador to Scotland) sent a drawing illustrating the episode.23 Most striking, in the top right corner, are the strangled or suffocated bodies of Darnley and his servant, William Taylor, lying in the garden amidst clothes, furniture and a dagger. To the left, is a view of the destroyed house at Kirk o’Field, a pile of rubble looked on by bystanders. Below, a crowd stand in Kirk o’Field’s yard, watching as Darnley’s body is carried out to be buried (to the right). In the top left corner, an infant James sits in bed and prays, ‘Judge and revenge my cause, O Lord’.

Darnley’s murder did dispose of one of Mary’s problems, but it sent shockwaves across Western Europe and, in the long run, seems to have been the first step towards her deposition. She was berated by Elizabeth, disowned by the Guises, challenged to avenge Darnley’s death by Charles IX and vilified in crude placards – including ‘The Mermaid and the hare’24 – which were posted on the walls of St Giles Church, Edinburgh.25 Was Mary guilty? Various theories have been put forward. The likeliest answer is that Darnley was killed by James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell with the compliance and support of other nobles, like the Earl of Morton. Mary herself may have known of the plot, which may explain why she was ready to reconcile with Darnley in January 1567, though she did not necessarily entice him to Kirk o’Field to facilitate the plot.

Part of the nobles’ plan was for Bothwell to marry Mary (the Ainslie bond), but they had not made her party to this and, when Bothwell proposed to her, she refused him.26 On 24 April, flanked by a large number of horsemen, Bothwell abducted Mary, took her to Dunbar and raped her. Bothwell secured a quick divorce from his wife and, on 15 May, he married Mary in a low-key ceremony in Edinburgh.27 Some have seen the abduction and alleged rape as a ruse to cloak a long-standing love affair and to explain a third, and disastrous, marriage. In support, they cite letters from Sir William Kirkcaldy28 and the famous ‘Casket letters’, a series of eight love letters and twelve poems in French (and two draft marriages treaties) between Mary and Bothwell.29 Kirkcaldy was not with Mary at the time of her abduction, so his testimony is suspect. The Casket letters, which exist now only in translated copies (the originals disappeared after the execution of the Earl of Gowrie in 1584) are clever forgeries, which used text from genuine letters (not necessarily to Bothwell) and new material to produce damning evidence of adultery and murder (of Darnley). Of more significance are accounts by Sir James Melville and Mary herself. Melville, who was travelling with the Queen, stated that Mary was forced to marry the Earl because ‘he had ravissit her and lyen with hir against hir will’.30 Mary stated that Bothwell ‘partelie exhorted, and partlie obtenit oure promis to tak him to oure husband’ but ‘wald nocht be satisfeit with all the just ressounis we culd allege to have the consummatioun of the marriage delayit’. ‘[W]e cannot dissembill that he hes usit ws utherwayis than we wald have wyssit, or zit have deservit at his hand’.31

Bothwell’s action had alienated all his previous allies other than in his former brother-in-law, the Earl of Huntley, and these nobles, led by Morton, rallied against him and the Queen. They took possession of Prince James and then, having raised an army, confronted Bothwell’s and Mary’s at Carberry Hill, Haddingtonshire. As with the Darnley murder, there is a contemporary colour drawing of the episode.32 Little happened: the day passed in negotiations and, eventually, Mary (dressed in red with a muffler) surrendered – amidst cries of ‘Burn the whore! Burn the murderess!’ – while Bothwell escaped back to Dunbar and then to the continent. Mary was taken to Edinburgh but was quickly transferred to Lochleven Castle.33 Once there, she was subject to intense negotiations about her abdication or restoration, punishment for Darnley’s murder and divorce from Bothwell; the latter was awkward because she was pregnant and it would have bastardised the child. Back in England, Elizabeth demanded her restoration but she was to be disappointed. Mary’s enemies realised that they had little option but to depose her. On 24 July they presented her with a deed to sign on pain of death. Mary, suffering from a miscarriage after months of ill health and advised by Throckmorton she should sign to preserve her life, abdicated. James was crowned king on 29th.

What the lords had planned to do – assuming they had a plan – with Mary is unclear. Thus, she was left at Loch Leven where she regained her health and strength. In May 1568 she escaped and, with the support of the Hamiltons and Earl of Argyll gathered a force that met Moray’s at Langside, near Glasgow. Unfortunately, Argyll fainted and was unable to reinforce the advance guard and the Queen’s forces were scattered. However, it was not a decisive defeat and Mary could – and arguably should have – regrouped. Instead, she fled to Dunbarton and, when her way was blocked, turned south, first to Lord Herries at Terregles and then onto England, hoping and expecting Elizabeth to provide military and financial support to help her regain her Crown.

With hindsight, it is easy to see what a poor decision Mary made: she would never return to Scotland but live out her days in captivity before being executed at Fotheringhay. But, at the time, the English option was probably the most viable one. Practically, it would have been difficult to arrange flight to France and she was unlikely to have got support from the French King, Charles IX. By contrast, she might reasonably expect help from Elizabeth. Unfortunately for Mary, her appearance in England was problematic for the English regime. For ten years, she had posed a threat to the present and future succession of the English Crown; her accession would threaten the Protestant settlement. Moreover, could Elizabeth support a rebellion, even if it was in the favour of a divinely appointed monarch? What impact would this have on the Protestant, Anglophile nobles who now governed Scotland, let alone continental monarchs? In the end, English interests won out over Elizabeth’s to respect and support a fellow monarch and cousin: negotiations were conducted between Elizabeth, Mary and Moray first in York, and then at Westminster.34 As before, though, they were built on false premises. Mary believed they were a precursor to being restored; Moray that they would lead to Mary’s conviction for Darnley’s murder. Though the wind seemed to blow in Moray’s favour, particularly when Moray produced the damning ‘Casket letters’, the conferences ended in stalemate with Elizabeth declaring that neither side had proved their case. For a short time, Elizabeth pursued her aim of restoring Mary, but her plans were rejected by Moray. Fears of a Catholic conspiracy against Elizabeth prevented the regime from sending Mary to France, though it is unlikely that she would have received much support. Instead, she remained in England.

Mary spent most of her exile as a ‘special guest’ of the Earl of Shrewsbury, primarily at Sheffield. This is the least documented (and studied) period of her life.35 She maintained her own household, paid largely from her own (substantial) income, which sought to mimic that of a royal household, with a privy chamber, dias and cloth of estate. She had considerable contact with Shrewsbury’s last wife, Bess of Hardwick, though this relationship soured as the Earl’s marriage broke up and Bess accused Mary of being pregnant by him. Mary’s health deteriorated, despite occasional visits to the spa at Buxton, and, by the 1580s, her arthritis was so bad she had difficult walking.

In England, Mary continued to be involved in the English succession problem. In 1569, it was proposed that she marry the leading English peer, the 4th Duke of Norfolk.36 Traditionally seen, at best as an attack on Cecil, at worst, a plot against Elizabeth, Stephen Alford has recently shown that the Norfolk marriage plan was a viable proposal to address the continuing English succession problem and had the backing of leading nobles like Leicester.37 It would prevent Mary marrying elsewhere and provide a degree of control over her both before and after she succeeded Elizabeth. It only failed because Elizabeth got wind of it and saw the move as a breach of Norfolk’s oath as her privy councillor. Norfolk, however, continued to dabble in the plans and, when the papal agent, Roberto Ridolphi, became involved, it took on a more conspiratorial hue. Norfolk was executed in 1571, but Elizabeth staved off calls for Mary’s death in the same parliament.

For the rest of the 1570s, Mary tried to court the French, English and Scots to regain her crown. Her plans failed. Most Scots reconciled with successive Anglophile regents, who benefited from English support. France, periodically involved in civil war had little interest in Mary and little spare cash to support her claims. Moreover, though marriage negotiations between Elizabeth and Henry, Duke of Anjou (later Henry III) and his younger brother, Francis, Duke of Alençon and Anjou, ultimately failed, France and England did enter into an alliance (Treaty of Blois). There were plans for Mary to marry Philip II of Spain’s half-brother, Don John of Austria, but she was lukewarm and the plans collapsed on Don John’s death in 1578.

Mary turned to more desperate and dangerous measures. She was privy to the Throckmorton (1583) and Babington (1586) plots that sought to mount Guisian/Spanish invasions of England, depose Elizabeth and place Mary on the throne. These plots, along with the Parry Plot (1585) reinforced long-standing English fears that Mary sought the English Crown. In 1584, the ‘Bond of Association’ was drawn up.38 This committed signatories to pursue and punish anyone who attempted the Queen’s life, or benefited from the same. The following year, it became law (the Act for the security of the Queen’s Royal Person), though eschewing lynch law in favour of court trials and deliberately excluding James VI from any punishment.

Mary signed the Bond herself,39 but, whilst protesting this loyalty she continued to be involved in plotting. It was the Babington Plot that sealed her fate. Sir Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth’s Principal Secretary, knew of the plot and intercepted all of Mary’s correspondence, which was conveyed in beer barrels.40 Though Babington did not fall into Walsingham’s trap,41 there was sufficient incriminating evidence to bring Mary to trial in 1586, much to Elizabeth’s reluctance. The trial, or trials, were held in Fotheringhay (14-15 October) and Westminster (25 October) and, despite skilful arguing by Mary, she was found guilty.42 Cotton Caligula C.9, fo. 635r is Burghley’s plan of the trial room at Fotheringhay. Robert Beale’s drawing of the trial is Additional MS 48027, fo.569* in which Mary is shown entering the room (top right) and seated (directly below). Beale’s drawing of the execution is Additional MS 48027, fo. 650*. The latter shows Mary being led in (top left), preparing for execution (centre) and (above to the right) her execution.

Guilty she may have been, but nothing could be done without Elizabeth signing the death warrant,43 44 has carefully separated myth from reality for this crucial episode, showing that Elizabeth asked for the warrant (prepared six weeks earlier) on 1 February and signed it, sending it to the Lord Chancellor to be sealed. When she requested the return of the warrant the following day, her secretary, William Davison reported it had already been sealed; the Queen said nothing. On 3 February, a meeting of the privy council, led by Burghley, agreed to deliver the warrant. At no point did Elizabeth request the warrant’s return again.

Mary was executed at Fotheringhay Castle on 7 February in a theatrical scene.45 Led to the scaffold, she refused to accept the services of a Protestant minister. She shed her black cloak to reveal a red dress – the colour of martyrdom. The executioner took three blows to sever her head, the first hitting her in the back of the skull. When he held the severed head up, it fell to the floor and he was left holding a wig.46 When Elizabeth heard of the execution she flew into a rage, seeking to execute Davison without trial for delivering the warrant and refusing to speak to Cecil for four months. In contrast, some London parish churches rang their bells in celebration.

It might be expected that Mary’s execution would end the succession problem that had so preoccupied the Elizabethan regime and dominates State Papers Online. It didn’t. Elizabeth still had no heir of her own body. Like his mother, James VI was an alien whose line was not favoured by Henry VIII; his protestant upbringing was periodically under threat by favourites like Esmé Stuart, Duke of Lennox. Claims were also made by the Infanta Isabella, Arbella Stuart and the son of the Earl of Hertford by Catherine Grey.

It has also had a detrimental effect on scholarly study of Mary. It seals a story that is easy to cast into a romantic or tragic light. Though this has stimulated a productive literary trade in romance, tragedy and Catholic martyrology, it has also obscured or prevented Mary from being subjected to the same scrutiny and analysis on queenship, governance, political culture and religious policy that her cousin has endured. Though French and Scottish sources will be crucial to such studies, the material provided by State Papers Online should open up these avenues to scholars of the future.


1 See the bibliography at the end of this essay.

2 A Collection of State Papers, relating to Affairs in the Reigns of King Henry VIII, King Edward VI, Queen Mary, and Queen Elizabeth, transcribed from original letters and other authentick memorials, left by William Cecill Lord Burghley. Vol. 1. 1542–1570 (Samuel Haynes), London, 1740 and Vol. II, 1571–1596 (William Murdin), London, 1759.

3 See British Library (BL), Cotton Caligula B 9, ff. 35r-36r and Haynes (see note 2 above), pp. 351-3.

4 Haynes (see note 2 above), pp. 373-4, 379-81

5 The National Archives (TNA), SP12/6 f. 74r.

6 BL, Cotton Caligula B.X, f. 18r; SP 70/5, ff.1r-32r; SP 52/1, f. 279r.

7 Haynes (note 2 above), pp. 373-4, 379-81.

8 BL, Add. MS. 35381, ff. 17r-17v.

9 BL, Lansdowne 5/38, ff. 126r-127v.

10 BL, Cotton Caligula B 10, ff. 209r-209v, 211r-212v.

11 BL, Lansdowne 102/59, ff. 107r-108r.

12 J. Melville, Memoirs of his own life (Edinburgh, 1827), p. 134.

13 TNA, SP 52/10, ff. 54r-55r, 57r-58r.

14 TNA, SP 52/10, ff. 117r-120r.

15 TNA, SP 52/10, ff. 71r-77r.

16 BL, Cotton Caligula B 9, ff. 237r, 246r-248r; SP 52/10, f. 143r.

17 TNA, SP 52/11 item no. 6, ff. 13r-14r; SP 52/11, item no. 8, f. 17r.

18 See Julian Goodare, 'Mary (1542-1587)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004; online edn, May 2007).

19 TNA, SP 52/10-14; BL, Cotton Caligula B 9 and 10.

20 BL, Cotton Caligula B 9, ff. 216r-218v, 223r-224r, 246r-248r.

21 BL, Cotton Caligula B 9, ff. 270r-283r; Add. MS. 48043, ff. 97r-117r; Lansdowne 9/19, f. 52r.

22 TNA, SP 52/12, item no. 75, f.165v.

23 BL, MPF 366.

24 TNA, SP 52/13, item nos 60 & 61.

25 TNA, SP 59/12, ff. 243r-6r, SP 59/12, f. 224r.

26 TNA, SP 52/13, item no. 33, f. 65r.

27 TNA, SP 59/13, item no. 60, f. 94r.

28 TNA, SP 52/13, item no. 35, f. 69r-70r; SP52/13/37, f.74r.

29 TNA, SP 53/2, ff. 62-66; Hatfield House, Cecil Papers 352/1-4; BL, Add. MS. 48027, ff. 278r; Cotton Caligula C.1, p. 271; Cambridge University Library, Oo.7.47, ff.32r-37v, 46r-48r.

30 Melville, Memoirs (see note 12 above), p. 177.

31 Prince Alex Labanoff, Lettres, Instructions et Mémoires de Marie Stuart, Reine d'Ecosse, publiés sur les originaux et les manuscrits, 7 vols (London, 1844), II, pp. 37-41.

32 BL, MPF 366.

33 TNA, SP 59/13, ff. 157r, 159r, 165r; SP 52/13/64, f. 121r.

34 BL, Cotton Caligula C 1, f. 227r and following documents; Cotton Titus C 12, ff. 97r-169v.

35 TNA, SP 53/3-4; BL, Cotton Caligula B.9 and printed collections of Mary’s letters.

36 TNA, SP 12/85, item 11, ff. 35r-38r.

37 TNA, SP12/83, item 11, ff. 23r-29v.

38 TNA, SP12/174, item nos 1-11, 14-18.

39 BL, Add. MS. 48027, f. 249r.

40 For example TNA, SP 53/18, item 54, ff. 120r-122v and, in cipher, SP 53/18, item 55, f.123r; SP 53/19, items 9-12. A copy of the cipher is in Add. 48027, f. 313v.

41 A forged postscript was added to one of Mary’s letters requesting how Elizabeth was to be assassinated. See SP 53/18 item 54, ff. 120r-122v

42 BL, Add. MS. 48027, ff. 492r-510r, 540r-554r, 557v-68r, 570r-74r, 636r-39v, 645r-50r; Cotton Caligula C 9, ff. 477r-95r.

43 Copies include BL, Add. MS. 48027, ff. 645r-6r.

44 See Simon Adams, ‘Davison, William (d. 1608)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, Sept 2004; online edn, Jan 2008).

45 See ‘The execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, 1542–1587’, c.1608–13, National Portrait Gallery of Scotland, PG 1217.

46 BL, Add. MS. 48027, ff. 649v-650r, 654r-58v.}



Stephen Alford, The Early Elizabethan Polity: William Cecil and the British Succession Crisis, 1558–1569 (Cambridge, 1998).

Stephen Alford, Burghley: William Cecil at the Court of Elizabeth I  (Cambridge, 2008)

Gordon Donaldson, All the Queen’s Men; Power and Politics in Mary Stewart’s Scotland (London, 1983)

Gordon Donaldson, Mary Queen of Scots (London, 1974)

Antonia Fraser, Mary Queen of Scots (London, 1969)

Julian Goodare, ‘Mary [Mary Stewart] (1542–1587), Queen of Scots’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004; online 2007)

John Guy, ‘My Heart is my Own’: the Life of Mary Queen of Scots (London, 2004)

Michael Lynch (ed.), Mary Stewart: Queen in Three Kingdoms (Oxford, 1988)

Marcus Merriman, The Rough Wooings: Mary Queen of Scots, 1542–1551 (East Linton, 2000)

Jenny Wormald, Mary, Queen of Scots: a Study in Failure (London, 1988)

CITATION: Mears, Natalie: "Mary, Queen of Scots." State Papers Online 1509–1714, Cengage Learning EMEA Ltd., 2009




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