Monday, February 8, 2016

Mary Queen of Scots Dies with Extreme Prejudice

On this day in 1587, Mary Queen of Scots died hard at the hands of a rough-hewn (sorry) and ham-handed executioner.


Born heir to the Scottish throne and inheriting that throne six days later, Mary Queen of Scots never questioned her divine right as queen.
Beautiful, right off the bat.
A gorgeous, leggy little girl.
A gorgeous, coltish teen.
A gorgeous, statuesque adult.
Mary never seemed to hit that awkward stage where one's siblings were frenemies and one's identity is frighteningly changeable. 
Instead, Mary had no siblings close enough to bother her, she was called 'Queen' from Day Seven forward, and she never had a moment that she was less than drop-dead gorgeous - until her 'winding down' years, beaten and demoralized by sitting and embroidering for nineteen straight years while under house arrest. 
And even then, if she put her mind to it, she could still charm the little birdies right out of the trees. 

Lacking just a bit in the 'impulse-control' portion of her personality, Mary Queen of Scots married very young and well - for a very short time.
Her French dauphin-turned-king husband dropped dead howling in pain from the earache that killed him in his teens after the two had been married less than two years.
Mary swept up the 'queen consort' title to go along with her existing 'Queen of Scots' one. 
After that, Mary's impulse control went haywire and she made disastrous move after disastrous move, each one turning her fate like the twisting of an iron bar.
She just didn't know it yet.

Poor Mary.

The short list of her more disastrous moves:
married her first (!) cousin, Lord Darnley, a petulant sorta-cutie with a  personality that made everyone want to punch his face - 

had his son - 

- Darnley, wildly unpopular, was found dead in his nightie with his (also dead) valet in the orchard adjoining his house; the house had exploded only minutes earlier - the blame for it went to James Hepburn (not James Hetfield, although it's what I always read it as, too - METAL!!) 

 -  Hepburn and Mary skipped down the aisle together shortly afterwards; he became Mary's third husband, after having forced himself on her (yes. exactly what you're thinking)

- when her marriage to Hepburn caused such outrage that Mary was forced to abdicate her throne in favor of her son, James VI - a one year old - Mary made her most foolish and impulsive move of all

- she fled south to England and threw herself on the mercy of her cousin, Elizabeth I.

Big mistake. 
Huge.
Elizabeth I had Mary under house arrest before you could say 'impulse-control issues.'

And after that, Mary Queen of Scots sat and waited.
And sat some more.
Finally she'd put two and two together and came up with the truth of her situation:
She'd put herself exactly where her cousin (whose kingdom Mary had always assumed she migh have one day as she had strong feelings that she was legitimate and should have been Queeen of England all along) wanted her; right under Elizabeth's very strong thumb.

Mary, not one to sit idly doing nothing, got to work plotting to overthrow Elizabeth and, when not busy making those bold plans, she did needlework.
Mary did embroidery for nineteen straight years (when not plotting to usurp Elizabeth) - that's a LOT of embroidery.

Eventually, Elizabeths courtiers who were responsible for her safety, asked Elizabeth to sign off on a death warrant for the Scottish queen, who'd been set up/revealed to expose her treasonous activities.

Mary went on trial which she quickly and correctly identified as a mere formality to her upcoming execution; she made no bones about it, either - she was smart, witty and fearless about throwing it right back in the faces of those judging her that she knew she was doomed.

And so, even though *technically* Elizabeth's counsel did not have explicit permission to carry out the execution, they hustled ahead and did it anyway fearing a coup from Mary more than the wrath of their own queen.

Mary's execution was textbook.
She prayed, she asked that all her servants be paid what she owed them, she paid the executioner his tip, she thanked everyone who'd been good to her and heartily bid them to pray for her.
Until . . . 

The executioner slammed the axe into the side of the queen's head, not a decent square killing chop, either - this was a blow that slipped off to side and bit into Mary's shoulder.
The fuck???
Two more agonizing whacks before the deed was done. 
Mary Queen of Scots, regal beauty and embroidery fanatic, mother of the future James VI ans I, was dead.