“In my end is my beginning”

–Mary, Queen of Scots

Mary, Queen of Scots, also known as Mary Stuart, was one of the most fascinating and controversial monarchs of 16th century Europe. At one time, she claimed the crowns of four nations- England, Ireland, France and Scotland. Her physical beauty and kind heart were even acknowledged by her enemies, but she lacked the political skills to rule successfully in Scotland. Her second marriage was unpopular and ended in murder and scandal; her third was even less popular and resulted in forced abdication in favour of her infant son. She fled to England in 1568, hoping to get help from her cousin, Elizabeth 1. Her presence was felt dangerous for the queen as she feared Catholic plotting on Mary’s behalf to overthrow Elizabeth. The two queens never met and Mary was imprisoned and remained that way for the next nineteen years. She was executed in 1587, only forty-four years old. By orders of the English government, all her belongings were burned. In 1603, upon Elizabeth’s death, Mary’s son became King of England as James 1.