Mary Queen of Scots

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Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587)
This granddaughter of Henry VII of England and daughter of Scotland's James V was born as her father lay dying, making her a queen as a newborn. Mary had been promised in marriage to England's Prince Edward but Scotland's parliament refused to comply and war resulted. At the age of 6, Mary was affianced to the French dauphin, son of Henri II. She was raised in the French court and married at age 16. Upon the death of her father-in-law, Mary's husband became Francis II in 1559. Francis died the next year, leaving Mary a dowager queen. In 1561, Mary returned to Scotland to face a country embroiled in religious unrest as attempts were made to ban the Catholic mass and delegitimize the authority of the Pope. Mary's 1565 marriage to her cousin, Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, eventually led to a series of events culminating in plots and counter plots. Darnley was eventually murdered and the Queens married the man most assumed to have been the murderer, the Earl of Bothwell. Her army turned against her, Mary abdicated in 1567, in favor of her year-old son, James. She fled to England, seeking the protection of Queen Elizabeth. As a Catholic in Protestant England, Mary's position was difficult since she was feared in some Protestant quarters as a potential restorer of Catholicism. Although the facts are still open to question, Mary was ultimately accused of plotting against Elizabeth. She was finally tried, convicted and executed in 1587.