Front Matter Early Times The Druids The Britons Caesar in Britain Queen Boadicea The Great Walls The Great Irish Saint The Anglo-Saxons Brave King Arthur The Laws of the Saxons The Story of St Augustine Three Great Men The Danish Pirates King Alfred and the Cakes Alfred conquers the Danes A King's Narrow Escape The King and the Outlaw The Monasteries An Unlucky Couple St Dunstan King Canute and the Waves A Saxon Nobleman Lady Godiva's Ride The Battle of Hastings The Conquest Lords and Vassals Death of William The Brothers' Quarrels Arms and Armour The "White Ship" Matilda's Narrow Escapes Story of Fair Rosamond Thomas a Becket Murder of Thomas a Becket Richard's Adventures Richard and the Saracens The Faithful Minstrel Death of Richard The Murder of Arthur The Great Charter The Rule of Henry III A Race Persecution of the Jews The Conquest of Wales A Quarrel with France The Coronation Stone The Insolent Favourite Bruce and the Spider Death of Edward II The Murderers punished The Battle of Crecy The Siege of Calais The Age of Chivalry The Battle of Poitiers The Peasants' Revolt Richard's Presence of Mind A Tiny Queen Henry's Troubles Madcap Harry A Glorious Reign The Maid of Orleans The War of the Roses The Queen and the Brigand The Triumph of the Yorks The Princes in the Tower Richard's Punishment Two Pretenders A Grasping King Field of the Cloth of Gold The New Opinions Death of Wolsey Henry's Wives The King and the Painter A Boy King Lady Jane Grey The Death of Cranmer A Clever Queen Elizabeth's Lovers Mary, Queen of Scots Captivity of Mary Stuart Wreck of the Spanish Armada The Elizabethan Age Death of Elizabeth A Scotch King The Gunpowder Plot Sir Walter Raleigh King and Parliament Cavaliers and Roundheads "Remember" The Royal Oak The Commonwealth The Restoration Plague and Fire The Merry Monarch James driven out of England A Terrible Massacre William's Wars The Duke of Marlborough The Taking of Gibraltar The South Sea Bubble Bonny Prince Charlie Black Hole of Calcutta Loss of the Colonies The Battle of the Nile Nelson's Last Signal The Battle of Waterloo First Gentleman of Europe Childhood of Queen Victoria The Queen's Marriage Wars in Victoria's Reign The Jubilee

Story of the English - Helene Guerber

Captivity of Mary Stuart

Now, you must know that the story of Mary Stuart is perplexing. Some people say she was a very good but a very unfortunate woman, while others say that she was very wicked. The reformers thought she was so bad that she had killed Darnley so as to marry Bothwell, and they indignantly rose up against her.

Murray, one of her relatives, headed the rebels, defeated her troops, and took her prisoner. Bothwell, however, managed to escape, and, knowing it would never be safe for him to come back to Scotland, he went to the Orkney Islands. There he became a pirate; but after some years spent thus he was captured and put into a Danish dungeon, where he died, a raving maniac.

Murray now took charge of the government, sending Mary to Lochleven Castle, in the middle of a Scotch lake, whence he fancied she could not escape. The Scotch Parliament next decided that Mary ought to give up the crown to her son James VI., and that Murray should be regent until he could reign alone. So a paper was carried to Mary in Lochleven Castle, and she was forced to sign it and give the crown to her infant son.

Prison life soon became so irksome to Mary that she made several efforts to escape. Once she bribed a washerwoman to exchange clothes with her, and then left the castle in the boat which had brought the woman. But she was soon detected by the whiteness and delicacy of her hands, and was brought back to her prison.

Mary made several other unsuccessful attempts, but finally escaped with the help of a boy called George Douglas. Friends were waiting to meet her, and Mary, having raised a small army, marched against Murray, who was coming to recapture her.

Although she commanded her troops in person, Mary was defeated. Fearing that the Scotch would again imprison her, she fled in haste from the battlefield. Without pausing once to rest, she rode sixty miles to the frontier, and, crossing Solway Firth, came into England.

Then she wrote a letter to Elizabeth, begging her protection. On receiving this message, Elizabeth pretended that she would be very glad to welcome Mary as her guest, but she said that she could not do so until the Queen of Scots was cleared from the charge of helping to murder Darnley.

Elizabeth therefore sent attendants to Mary, who was lodged in a castle, while a committee was appointed to try her. There were witnesses for and against her, but it was not settled whether she was innocent or guilty. Elizabeth said that as long as the matter was undecided she could neither receive her kinswoman nor allow her to leave England, and on this pretext kept her a prisoner.

At first the Queen of Scots was not kept in close captivity, for we are told that she was allowed to go out as much as she pleased, and to receive visitors. But when Elizabeth saw that Mary's beauty, intelligence, and patience won her many friends, she began to grow uneasy. Her uneasiness was increased by a plot which was made by the Catholics to kill her, free Mary, and place the latter on the throne of England.

This conspiracy was discovered in time, as well as two others formed by Norfolk and Babington, and most of those who took part in them were executed. After each attempt to set Mary free, her residence was changed, and at last she was taken to Fotheringay Castle. Here she was tried, found guilty of plotting against Elizabeth, and although she insisted that she was innocent of all crime, she was condemned to death as a traitor.

The news of this sentence was received with horror by the French and the Scotch, who both sent ambassadors to England to protest against its being carried out. But Parliament insisted that neither the queen nor the country would be safe so long as Mary lived, so Elizabeth reluctantly signed the death-warrant.

Mary calmly heard this paper read to her, prepared for death, wrote her will, and, after sleeping peacefully for a few hours, rose and dressed as richly as possible. At her request, a few of her most faithful servants were allowed to accompany her to the scaffold, which was erected in the great hall of the castle.

There, after freely forgiving the executioners who knelt before her to beg her pardon, Mary, Queen of Scotland, committed her soul to God, and, laying her head upon the block, gave the signal for her death. She had been a prisoner about nineteen years.

When she was dead, Elizabeth seemed to regret her execution. She even wore mourning for her, and sent away one of her ministers, on the ground that he had had the death-warrant executed after she had recalled it.