Mary Queen of Scots executes besotted suitor…

mary queen of scots aged 18Mary was widowed at just eighteen-years-old when her first husband, King Francois II of France died as the result of an abscess developing from an ear infection.  In order to continue the Stuart dynasty she needed to remarry.  Ultimately this led to arguments about the Crown Matrimonial – i.e. would her husband be allowed to rule if she died but in the short term there was the small matter of possible candidates for the job.

don carlosDon Carlos, son of Philip II of Spain had been mentioned whilst she was still in France. Aside from the fact that the young man was Philip’s heir there was also the issue of his mental health.  Ultimately he would be locked up by his father and die in 1568 after six months in a small room on his own. Mary Queen of Scots uncle, the Cardinal of Lorraine was less concerned about the sanity of Don Carlos than the power that the marriage would give to Philip II.

charles of austriaCharles, Archduke of Austria was identified as a suitable heir but Mary wasn’t keen. Charles would go on to negotiate for Elizabeth I’s hand.


Elizabeth I helpfully suggested a match that she felt might work – Sir Robert Dudley, her master of horse and alleged lover – not to mention participant in yet another conspiracy theory i.e. the deathRobert_Dudley_Leicester.jpg of his wife Amy Robsart in Abingdon in suspicious circumstances. Historians think that Amy had cancer but at the time her fall down some stairs looked rather a lot like the removal of one wife to make way for one with a crown. Elizabeth possibly thought that if Mary accepted Dudley that she could trust him to work in England’s interests or else she was being deliberately provocative. At any rate Dudley became the Earl of Leicester in a bid to be made to look more appealing.

And then there was Pierre de Chatelard or Chastelard.  He was a young french poet.  Essentially Pierre fell in love with the queen and she failed to spot that it wasn’t love of the courtly kind and consequentially encouraged him. This sounds slightly cruel but the concept of courtly love was that a man should express devotion to a woman beyond his reach – the whole thing reached new heights in the court of Elizabeth – think of Spencer’s Fairie Queen for example. In Scotland the misunderstanding between affectation of passion and passion itself went badly awry.  Pierre hid in Mary’s bedroom at Holyrood.  Fortunately he was discovered by Mary’s servants and booted out.  He was told to leave Scotland.

Pierre agreed that it was probably best if he returned to France – except he didn’t.  He followed Mary on a progress and at Rossend Castle, Pierre managed to get into her bedroom once more. On this occasion the queen was in situ and in a state of undress. Pierre accosted the queen and there was rather a lot of shouting and screaming, followed by the arrival of Lord Moray (James Stewart Mary’s illegitimate half-brother) who removed the offending frenchman, arresting him and locking him up in one of the castle’s dungeons.

Mary was so outraged by proceedings that she felt that de Chatelard should have been killed on the spot but Moray insisted that the poet be given a trial and executed in the market place at St Andrews which was where the court travelled from Rossend.

pierre de chastelard.jpg

The National Portrait Gallery collection contains the above image which dates from 1830 depicting the lovelorn de Chatelard playing the lute for Mary.

11 thoughts on “Mary Queen of Scots executes besotted suitor…

  1. just read through the Mancini work and Virgils. It seems to me More either invented all he said or he was spot of with his information. If however More is right who told him that Will Slaughter was looking after the boys. Crowland tells us that the boys were both alive unto October. Much scull dugery here one suspects with many red herrings. Buckingham was vain and greedy but in Brecon he could not have had a hand in things. Brackenbury a northern loyal to the King if he had known of the murders would he have been at Richards side at Bosworth? From studying this man I see him fair and innocent ready always to listen and not man to condone regiside of two boys in his keeping. If , as More states he was to hand the keys over and have nothing to do with it?
    Then mount up and give up his very life to aid his King sounds to me that someone is driving the truth far out and away. More may have learned much from being in Mortons service and his contact maybe with Brackenburys daughter but much is made up by someone or even More himself. Richard may be just the monster they all say he was but something is amiss in this build up to the murder taking place. By her silly act even their mother in sanctury may have signed the boys execution by hand unknown but who benefited more by their deaths? Richard could remove the woodvile claim by reducing the odds and taking out the figureheads and so by doing stop civil war. Then same for Henry Tudor via his mother. Remove all and reign then clear out all claimants one by one which is what he did to my family but failed by just one to return a daughter as Queen to his son. I hated Tudors and still do welsh thieves and executioner all in one. as you say no right or wrong view as we clearly will never know what happened. Those who read some things believe all that is written but look beyond and its another story. Motive and method and reason all have deep place in any detection. Witnesses are the ploy of the defense and mostly unreliable in a cross examination.
    People have an inventive self preservation on the spot and so can be reduced into saying what ever suits the moment. Even witness from just ten day prior can alter some of the story after repeating it over to six different listeners. Little facts that mean so much to a lawyer are not so important to them and can be flexible without malice or forethought . Police are the worst even from the notebooks can be brought down by own mistakes in writing. One flutter and its all over for them if the Prosecutioner is trained and on the ball. We all do psychology courses monthly and can see a lie coming on by face change and body ways long before mind is engaged by witness. Of course one or two have conviction of their words. My way was to tell them first they should relax. Not then my fault if they did not.taking the defense side in all conversations also helped build up the questions and into the other camp side thoughts. My history lecturer told me in 1968 that I would be a lawyer as my insight into case research was remarkable. She did not tell me why she thought that but indeed it was so. I saw myself only as an historian at that time in ,my life. history and law my studies. My say in this singular case of double murder is that some six people are in the frame. The best motive was a mother at 13 years old giving birth to her son Henry who would have shifted heaven and hell to place him on Richards throne. not one single courtier had ever heard of him .A broke reliant on handouts from foreign Kings. Why should have anyone heard of Henry Tudor.then. her whole entity was to denounce Richard any way she could .Henry could never have doine this without his mothers help and marriage to Lord Stanley who hated Richard over Hornby Castle inheritance. The boys meant as much to her case as to Richards. Hers a far more thought out plan as we see when Henry wins the battle and from nothing takes his throne. I have more right to rule so does Norfolk and perhaps sixteen others than Henry the Beaufort bastard. Yet plain as a pike staff here he was with the top job in England why ? His mother moved heaven and earth for him. Richard may not have taken the throne in the first place if long after Edwards death he had not written to Richard then in Penrith court unaware his job was forfeited and his brother cold and buried.Woodville power meant his death and Richard would not wish to be trapped.That explains his actions. Then surely many told him civil war with child king in place would lead to years more of strife and destruction. If he did the murders on that alone it may have been him. Then he was not in London when we say it was done. Both Beaufort and Morton both with Stanley may have seen their chance and taken it.Deep thoughts on all of this but still it keeps my mind working in retirement early

    • The twists and turns of History are certainly a puzzle- and as you say the whole thing certainly keeps the little grey cells working. I change my mind with every new article i read on the subject!

  2. Honesty is always loved. Yes in fact many can tell a tale, the same tale only similar but never matched so what we take from historian that lived not in the times he writes about can hardly ever be trusted depending on his or her motive and who told them in the first place? We who look back on time are left only half interested in todays events but deeply in love with what is unreachable . My hope is heaven brings me chance to talk with so many i need to talk with. What wonders to be found in another corridor beyond daylights reach. Richard may always be the one in the frame to so many and maybe correct in judgement. I offer only that Beaufort was on the rails all the sway around but her desire , her passions came to be not by accident . To me knowing her type , my wife was such . Buried in Appleby alongside my family graves. One must say if Margaret Beaufort had just one half of her ambitions and craftiness then I believe she murdered or had murdered anyone who stood in her way to make her snipe faced weasel of a son king of England. I do so hope we can be friends and talk forever on many things as mystery and factual research. Keeps me bright eyed and bushy tailed. waiting for summer anytime to build the landscaped gardens more and more into an English garden with new waterfalls on my mind. Long walk to Church ruins and views of forest and wild deer. Elks and Moose wander the flat grass lands between lakes. i look down on it all from here to the sea. Sweden sits beyond my view but go there on ferry which is lovely with sauna and big show always on stage. Have now made friends with a Swedish chap and his lovely wife who put a big dinner and many many drinks on in their home in my honour. They talk English with Cumbrain accents so felt at home. Seems much of what we say is dated back to them. Stones called Styans garden called croft and many many things poist for post. I soon picked it up and was happy in company. Never ever drunk so much in my whole life. But loved the memory. You know my email use it and we can talk.

    • Sorry my remark of trusting historian who did not live in the time was aimed at Sir Thomas More and some who copied all works after that. Dear lady I meant no harm to you.

  3. I had no idea that Liz was trying to pimp Dudley (as it were) – fascinating. I was at Kenilworth just yesterday. Can’t help feeling a little sorry for the lovelorn de Chatelard; and, in retrospect, Mary could have done with a little happiness in her life.

    • I still can’t work out whether she was genuinely offering him as a spouse or knowing that Mary would be offended offering him as a political gesture to cause her to run off with the first available candidate who showed up.

      • She did say Mary would have to live in England – it would have been an interesting household! But it did give her an excuse to elevate Dudley to an earldom.

  4. I think not Liz so silly as to fully trust a man like Dudley. His father had tried it and lost his head which took everything from his sons inheritance. He was happy to marry and carry on a courtship of a Queen. She was anything but straight herself. She knew herself from her ;ladies just hours after Dudleys marriage but in movie, on her name, it was suggested little head man informed her six days later? Burely may have known but was too aware of her tempers to risk a quick announced shout. The court was bu ta breeding ground for scandal. She played many men to their ends Dudley she loved but would never trust.

  5. Have you ever thought that we are mortal and we think of those who have passed as we will pass and immortal we are in world beyond. Love being the only hold on life here that is sweeter than honey yes many ignore we are human and on the clock called time. Therefore seek the love before grim death grabs you. All those who lived found love money and hanged for their crimes like dogs on a chain. In London I looked into the Hole In The Wall Inn. Saw black jack jugs older than history yes that ghost of the cheated Claude Duval himself looked close at me. I have seen the dead and many have passed around me. Cant talk but are there to roam. Laugh if you wish I care not I see long before as normal. Only love is the key to beyond. We have all lived before and trial of life tells me we are forgiven only when its over.

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