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Mary Queen of Scots is Beheaded in 1567: On This Day February 8th

Mary Queen of Scots
Mary Queen of Scots is Beheaded on Feb. 8th, 1567: Does the Tudor Dynasty in English history interest you? Come check out a list of 6 books that shed light on Tudor and Stuart Queens of this era!

Hello readers! I’m back today with another On This Day post! I was planning on writing at least one more in January and another one last week, but an upper respiratory infection/flu illness knocked me down so hard that it was difficult to get back up again. So I scoured On This Day and came up with Mary, Queen of Scots.

Mary Queen of Scots is Beheaded: On This Day February 8, 1567

The Tudor Dynasty was a period in English history that is synonymous with beheadings. The Tower of London is where many notorious executions took place, and one of those beheadings was Mary Queen of Scots.

Mary Queen of Scots was an interesting woman during this period. Mary was a Stuart by lineage, but her mother was Margaret Tudor, the sister to King Henry VIII of England. Her royal blood stretched across the whole of the two countries. After the death of her father, King James V when she was only six days old, she ascended the throne to Scotland. She was sent to France to study abroad and ended up marrying the future king of France. Mary was Queen of France for a short period, and when her husband died, she finally returned to Scotland.

She ended up marrying her first cousin, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, but this wasn’t a happy marriage. After a few short years of marriage, there was an explosion at his home and he was found murdered. Mary then married a man named James Hepburn, but not before he was investigated for Lord Darnley’s murder.

All of Scotland disapproved of Mary’s third marriage, and she was forced to abdicate the throne of Scotland. Her one-year-old son with Lord Darnley became King James VI of Scotland after her abdication. Mary tried to regain the throne, but was forced to flee to England. It was here that she pleaded for help from Queen Elizabeth I of England, her cousin.

Elizabeth wasn’t exactly happy with this family reunion. Mary’s father refused to turn away from the Roman Catholic Church in favor of the Church of England at the request of Henry VIII, and many English Catholics called for Mary Queen of Scots the rightful Catholic Queen of England. Therefore, Elizabeth ended up confining her to various castles throughout England for almost 19 years. Eventually, in 1587, Mary was found guilty of plotting to assassinate Queen Elizabeth and was subsequently beheaded.

Like I said, Mary lived quite the whirlwind life. What I find the most fascinating was that she spent her entire childhood as Queen of Scotland while never setting foot on its shores. Scotland was ruled by regents during this period, and she ended up being Queen of France during her time there. Her son, James VI, would eventually become King of both England and Scotland since Elizabeth had no heirs and James was raised Protestant.


Nonfiction and Historical Fiction Authors: Tudor and Stuart Royalty

There seems to be a pretty solid niche in historical fiction that centers on royalty, and an even smaller group that focuses on the Tudors and the Stuarts. This period of history was a tumultuous one for the English people, filled with much change in the monarchy and religion. There will always be readers looking to read more about these legendary kings and queens.

Here’s a list of some famous authors who have written various works on both the Tudors and the Stuarts. Some of them are a series of books while others are nonfiction accounts. But all of them tell tales of beheadings and backstabbing most notable during this era in history.

1. Alison Weir

Alison Weir Mary Queen of Scots by Alison Weir The Six Wives of Henry VIII
Alison Weir is a prominent author of history books and historical fiction novels. Her research has focused a lot on the Tudor dynasty and she’s written biographies on many British monarchs. Despite her controversial writings, which some readers claim inaccuracies, she is very well-known in her niche. Her bibliography includes Mary Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord Darnley, The Life of Elizabeth I, and The Six Wives of Henry VIII.

2. Philippa Gregory

Philippa Gregory The Virgin's Lover The Other Queen
I’ve known about Philippa Gregory for years now, and she is very well-known for her Tudor-era historical fiction. Many of her novels have been made into either feature-length films or television miniseries. She is most famous for The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels. The Virgin’s Lover (#13) focuses on Queen Elizabeth as the French threaten to put Mary Queen of Scots on the English Throne. The Other Queen (#15) gives us insight into the years that Mary Queen of Scots spent in captivity.

3. Antonia Fraser

Antonia Fraser Mary Queen of Scots by Antonia Fraser The Wives of Henry VIII
Antonia Fraser is a writer of history and biographies, as well as detective fiction. Her first major biography was Mary Queen of Scots, which was very sympathetic towards the Scottish Queen. It breaks down a lot of legends and myths that followed her throughout history. The Wives of Henry VIII is another one of her popular biographies and focuses on the six different wives of Henry VIII, Mary’s first cousin. Two of those wives were eventually beheaded as well.


On This Day Posts

The Tudors and the Stuarts have always been interesting to me. I’ve already added a bunch of these books to my list, and these are authors that I’m already familiar with in the historical fiction/nonfiction world. I plan on working my way through them at some point in my reading career since I have quite a passion for learning about kings and queens throughout history. Have you read any of these books or authors? What do you think? Comment below!

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8 thoughts on “Mary Queen of Scots is Beheaded in 1567: On This Day February 8th

  1. Mary, Queen of Scots has always been a character that I’m conflicted about. I think she had such a rough life but she made choices that just weren’t logical in the least. Especially her second marriage and I’ve heard that her third marriage only happened because she was forced into it. I know later in life she said she was raped and forced into the marriage. This is a great feature! While, personally, I disagree with you on a couple authors you featured (just because I read a lot in this era), I love the feature and someone showing an interest in history!

    – Caidyn

      1. I’m going to link in my Goodreads shelf for Tudor books (fiction and nonfiction) with it sorted for the high ratings first:

        If you want overviews of the period, Tudor: The Family Story by Leanda de Lisle, Tudor by Peter Ackroyd, and The Wars of the Roses by Dan Jones are fantastic reads. The latter is actually a look at the coming of the Tudors so you get the backstory for their lives.

        If you want things more specific, I loved Anne Boleyn by Eric Ives. He’s considered the foremost historian on Anne Boleyn. His book is exhaustive and amazing. Another book specific to Henry VIII is 1536 by Suzannah Liscomb is a close look at that one year in his life, a year that’s considered the one that changed him.

        Sadly, I can’t really give you any recommendations about Mary Queen of Scots because I haven’t read too much on her! I did read Weir’s biography on her second husband’s mother, but nothing straight on her. I hope to change that this year. Someone I trust rated Catholic Queen, Protestant Patriarchy by Kristen Walton four stars. I haven’t read it, but I trust her opinion highly. Plus it’s about Mary Queen of Scots.

        Sorry for the long comment, but I figured it was easier to give some personal recs along with my shelf all about this era.

        – Caidyn

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