9 things that you probably did not know about Mary, Queen of Scots

Mary, Queen of Scots

Mary, Queen of Scots. Image Credit: bbc.co.uk

The article below explores some nine interesting details from the drama-packed, and absolutely troubled, life of Mary, Queen of Scots (8 December 1542 – 8 February 1587). A quick heads up, you might want to skip the last one. It is too horrific an explanation of her death.

  1. Mary never met her ‘frenemy’ Queen Elizabeth I

Contrary to the accounts in Josie Rourke 2018 blockbuster film titled Mary Queen of Scots, Mary, and Queen Elizabeth I (the Virgin Queen of England) just never met face-to-face. The two only corresponded with each other via letters. However, the bond and hatred they shared for each other resulted in the gruesome execution of Mary. During Mary’s 19-year imprisonment in England, Queen Elizabeth made sure that she kept her Scottish cousin far from her due to an unending suspicion that Mary was out to get her throne.


  1. Mary was often ill

Mary’s illness was not overtly noticeable during her infancy. However, as tragedy began to gnaw at her, the Queen became very sickly. First, she was sent to a distant land to live with her maternal family in the French courts. This was after her father King James V died when she was just six days old. Then at the age of 18, she was widowed. Prior to that, her beloved mother died as well. Her second husband, Lord Darnley, brutally got murdered in a very bizarre explosion. Definitely, all of those tragic events took a toll on Mary’s health even long before she was executed in England. It has been stated that she typically suffered from vomiting, panic attacks and excruciating pains in the abdomen.

  1. White wine was her go to whenever she washed her face

The Queen was obsessed with maintaining her pale alabaster complexion. Hence she used unconventional means to achieve this. In the writings of Mickey Mayhew, the author mentioned that Mary’s usage of white wine as a face wash started to take a huge drain on the coffers of her keeper, the Earl of Shrewsbury.

  1. She was an animal lover

Owing to all the turbulence that went on in Mary’s life, Mary had taken to keeping lapdogs. She developed this habit during her stay in France. Historians estimate that she had about 20 Lapdogs. It is even believed that her Skye terrier nestled at her feet while she was executed in England.

  1. She wore white at her first wedding

You might wonder, what’s unconventional about wearing white to your wedding? Well, four centuries ago, white was not the typical color one wore to his or her wedding. The color white was seen in French society as the color of mourning. It is unknown why she intentionally wore white considering the fact that she spent all her childhood living in France. Certainly, she should have known better. But then again, Mary was not your typical type of queen.

  1. Mary signed the Scottish Witchcraft Act of 1563

In all honesty, this should not come as a surprise to anyone. First of all, it was the 16th century. Second, Mary was deeply Catholic. She grew up in a very religious society. Back then it was either Protestantism or Catholicism. Over 2,000 so-called ‘witches’ died as a result of this Act, which would span for about 150 years.

  1. She cross-dressed

If you were a 16th-century monarch, how would you have objectively measured your approval ratings? Mary had a great idea: dress up like a man and roam the streets of Edinburgh to pick the thoughts of her people on the Queen. She was not the first ruler to do this, but it was the manner in which she did that made it extraordinary. Besides, her height made her disguises as men very convincing. Historians believe that she was a little bit shy off 6 feet in height.

  1. Mary had four ladies-in-waiting called the ‘four Marys’

When Mary was about leaving for France, her mother, Marie de Guise (Mary of Guise) appointed four ladies-in-waiting to keep the young Mary company and make her happy while in the French court. All four of the ladies were called Mary, and they were of noble births and similar age. During their time in France, the four Marys were educated on a host domestic issue in order to prepare them to become proper ladies-in-waiting or wives of noblemen.

The names of the four Marys were Mary Seton, Mary Beaton, Mary Fleming and, Mary Livingston. As time went by, they became good friends and companions of Mary Queen of Scots. They also went everywhere their mistress went; even on an official trip. They also entertained the queen by dancing, poetry recitals, and music. However, their carefree and a bit liberal life was not appreciated by the noble Scots and radical religious zealots such as John Knox.

Up until the queen’s death, some of those Marys stayed in touch or by her side. Mary Seton was the most devoted of them all. She was there right until the gruesome murder of her queen. Unlike the rest, Seton never got married and she literally devoted her entire life in service of the queen.

  1. It took three strikes from the headsman to end her life

A gruesome account of Mary’s death states that the executioner got very jittery in the lead up to her death. As a result, his ax missed her neck on the first strike. The blade got lodged at the back of her head, causing Mary to suffer a brief moment of excruciating pain. In the second strike, the executioner again failed to cleanly sever her head properly. It was only on the third and final strike that the executioner was able to put Mary out of her misery.

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1 Response

  1. Janet Padron says:

    The recent movie depicting Mary, Queen of Scots, was fantastic. I watched three times before entirely learning all there was to learn!♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️

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