Monday, September 7, 2015

Today's Henry: Stuart - Lord Darnley - Historic Murder Mystery Victim, Husband to Mary Queen of Scots

At two o'clock in the morning in February, 1566 in Edinburgh, the Provost's House (provost = person in charge) in Kirk o' the Field was blown to smithereens by gunpowder.
Yikes. Gunpowder.
Two bodies were subsequently discovered in a nearby orchard.
Both were men, one in his nightshirt.
Image result for man in nightshirt
Good-looking nightie, dude. 
A chair, some rope, a cloak and a dagger were found close to the bodies.
Neither man appeared to have been injured in the explosion. 
Mystery: what happened?

The dead man found dressed in his nightshirt was Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, Duke of Albany, and the husband of Mary Queen of Scots. 
The other body belonged to his valet.
There were conflicting accounts of the event; Lord Darnley had been 'strangled or suffocated.' 
People nearby heard a man screaming for mercy prior to the rip-roaring explosion that leveled the Provost's House; other people heard nothing except the explosion.
One fellow said Lord Darnley and his valet were taken to the orchard, Darnley had a piece of cloth stuffed in his mouth (to hush the screams?) and was strangled. 
Much confusion and finger-pointing ensued.
Three months later, Lord Darnley's widow, Mary Queen of Scots married the Earl of Bothwick, which led many people to the conclusion perhaps the two of them had Lord Darnley done in - which was no great loss, as Darnley was conceited, selfish, entitled, impulsive and slutted around while his wife was pregnant. 

Those are the facts of the mystery.
Here's the rest of the story of Henry Stuart, Lord Darnely:


Born on 7 December, 1545, Henry Stuart spent his early years in England. 
He was handsome (some said almost pretty) and had all the courtly manners and expectations of utter deference of courtiers.
When Mary Queen of Scots, recently widowed, saw Darnley, she liked what she saw - and that means his looks were enough for her ignore his spoiled-brat arrogance which was legendary.
Image result for stupid and handsome

The two were married on 29 June, 1565.

Things went wrong almost from the start of their marriage - Darnley liked nothing more than to sneak out at night to go whoring and shit-disturbing in the rougher parts of town while Mary, pregnant and disappointed with life in general and her husband in particular, neglected to ask Parliament to give Darnley a crown to match hers.
Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley and Mary Queen of Scots - the unhappy couple. 
This ticked off Darnley quite a bit, as did his wife's secretary, David Rizzio, who kept the queen company while her husband philandered.
When a very pregnant Mary Queen of Scots sat with Rizzio in March of 1566, a crew of ruffians (Darnley and his henchmen) broke in and stabbed Rizzio to death in full view of the horrified queen.

After that, Lord Darnley and Mary Queen of Scots had difficulty sitting politely at the same dinner table.
Not even the birth of their son, the future James VI and I, brought the couple closer.
James VI and I with his pet bird, rocking the biggest velvet bloomers ever. 
Darnley was arrogant and disloyal, but at least he was stupid as well. 
He gambled, he drank too much, he stuck it where he oughtn't have, and he spread rumors about his wife's lack of commitment to supporting the Catholic faith in Scotland. 
That last bit was a big deal, and also where Darnley's stupidity finally tripped him.

It tripped him up because Mary Queen of Scots, a Catholic who did not want a divorce on her permanent record because she loved the Catholic faith and followed it devoutly(sorta), had friends.
Those same friends advised her the situation with her scumbag husband 'could be resolved without divorce.' 
Image result for things that make you go hmmm
(!!!) 
Meanwhile, Darnley caught something - smallpox, venereal disease, who knew? - and Mary traveled to him and tended to him, faking concern the whole time, as a loving wife should. 
Then Mary took her baby boy and skedaddled to Holyrood House, where it was safer than the Provost's House at Kirk o' the Field, where Darnley went to recover.
It was safer at Holyrood House because the basement wasn't packed full of gunpowder like that crazy-times basement at the Provost's House in Kirk o' the Field. 

And so, ka-BLAM! Image result for explosion
There went the Provost's House, blown up.
And through the air (not really; more likely the pair either walked there under duress or were dragged there already dead) flew the bodies of Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley and that of his valet, which came to rest in the orchard, near the chair, by the rope, next to the cloak, and don't forget about the dagger.

It's exactly like a game of Clue, isn't it?
Except the awful Lord Darnley was so offensive that it could have been anybody, in any room, with the rope.