Saturday, February 8, 2014

On This Day in Elizabethan History: Mary Stuart is Executed

A 1613-14 depiction by an unknown Dutch artist of the execution of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, and the subsequent destruction of her personal items (left). Image acquired through Wikimedia Commons. Image public domain.

On this day in Elizabethan history in 1587, Mary Stuart, former Queen of Scotland was executed privately at Fotheringhay Castle. She remained unrepentant of the plots for which she had been found guilty, and defiant until her last moment when the axe cleaved her head from her body. All personal articles of clothing worn by the Queen on the scaffold (including her carefully chosen red dress, red being the color of a Catholic martyr) were destroyed so that they could not be fashioned into relics. Therefore, the chemise on display at Coughton Court (and all over Pinterest, for that matter) that is said to be have been worn by Mary, Queen of Scots at her execution is almost certainly a fake.

The execution of her cousin had a profound effect on Elizabeth, both personally and politically, and provided an acceptable catalyst for the invasion of England by Philip II’s Spanish Armada in 1588.

You can read about the Babington Plot, Mary’s trial, her guilty verdict, and her execution in the following BeingBess posts…