Mary as Queen Dauphiness of France
aged sixteen by François Clouet
Mary aged nine, by an unknown artist,
commissioned by Catherine de Medicis
"My subjects in Scotland do their duty
in nothing...nor have they performed their part in one thing that
belongeth to them. I am their Queen and so they call me, but they
use me not so...they must be taught to know their duties...Yes, the Queen
my good sister may be assured to have a better neighbour of me being her
cousin, than of the rebels, and so I pray you signify."
"I will be plain with you, the religion which I profess I take
to be the most acceptable to God; and, indeed, neither do I know, nor
desire to know any other. Constancy becometh all folks well, and
none better than princes, and such as have rule over realms, and specially
in matters of religion. I have been brought up in this religion; and
who aught would credit me in anything if I should show myself lighter in
"Monsieur l'Ambassadeur, if my preparation were not so much
advanced as they are, peradventure the Queen, your Mistress' unkindness
might stay my voyage; but now I am determined to adventure the matter,
whatsoever come of it; I trust the wind will be so favourable as I
shall not need to come on the coast of England; and if I do, Monsieur
l'Ambassadeur, the Queen your Mistress shall have me in her hands to do
her will of me; and if she be so hard-hearted as to desire my end, she may
then do her pleasure, and make sacrifice of me; peradventure that casualty
might be better for me than to live. In this matter, God's will be
(To Throckmorton before her return to Scotland in 1561)
Mary by a follower of Clouet
Miniature by an unknown artist of Mary placing a wedding ring on her hand.
Mary and her son James, imaginary portrait by an unknown artist.
"Well then, I perceive that my subjects shall obey you, and not
me; and shall do what they list and not what I command, and so must I be
subject to them and not they to me...but ye are not the Kirk that I will
nurse. I will defend the Kirk of Rome, for, I think, it is the true
Kirk of God."
"Have I not borne with you more patiently than any other ruler in
all your rigorous manner of speaking both against my self and my uncles;
yea, I have sought your favours by all possible means. I offered unto
you presence and audience whensoever it pleased you to admonishe me; and yet
I cannot be quit of you. What have you to do with my marriage?
What are you within this commonwealth?"(To John Knox)
"How much better everything would be, if the two queens were
indeed friends! For I see now that the world is not that that we do
make of it, nor yet are they most happy that continue longest in it."
(To Randolph after the death of two of her Guise relatives)
"Some of our subjects and council by their proceedings have
declared manifestly what men they are...slain our most special servant in
our own presence and thereafter held our proper person captive
treasonably...but of truth we are so tired and evil at ease, what through
riding of twenty miles in five hours of the night, as with the frequent
sickness and evil disposition by the occasion of our child."
(To Queen Elizabeth of England on 15th March 1566 after the murder of Rizzio)
"The matter is so horrible and strange, as we believe the like
was never heard of in any country...There is nothing remaining, no, not a
stone above another, but all carried far away, or dung in dross to the very
groundstone. It must have been done with the force of powder, and
appears to be a mine...With the diligence our Council has begun already to
use...the same being discovered...we hope to punish the same with such
rigour as shall serve for example of this cruelty to all ages to
come...Always who ever have taken this wicked enterprise in hand, we assure
our self it was dressed always for us as for the King; for we lay the most
part of all the last week in that same lodging, and was there accompanied
with night at midnight, and of very chance tarried not all night, by reason
of some mask in the abbey; but, we believe it was not chance but God that
put it in our head."
(To Queen Elizabeth after the murder of Darnley)
"Bothwell awaited us by the way, accompanied with a great force,
and led us with all diligence to Dunbar...Albeit we found his doings rude,
yet were his words and answers gentle."
(To the Bishop of Dunblane regarding her abduction by the Earl of Bothwell)
"As envy follows virtues, and this country is of itself somewhat
subject to factions; others began to mislike his proceeding, and so far by
reports and misconstructing his doings, went about to put him out of our
good grace...He obtained an writing subscribed with all their hands, wherein
they not only granted their consent to our marriage with him, but also
obliged them to set him forward with their lives and goods...This realm
being divided in factions as it is, cannot be contained in order, unless our
authority be assisted and forthset by the fortification of a man who must
take upon his person in the execution of justice...the travail therof we may
no longer sustain in our own person, being already wearied, and almost
broken with the frequent uproars and rebellions raised against us since we
came in Scotland."
(To the Bishop of Dunblane after her marriage to Bothwell)
"It may have originated in some secret feuds among the lords of
recent date, or possibly from grievances of remoter origin which though long
hidden, at last came to scatter their poison on the surface."
(To Nau about the birth of a new conspiracy)
"How is this, my lord Morton? I am told that all this is
done in order to get justice against the king's murderers. I am told
also that you are one of the chief of them."
(After the Carberry Hill confrontation and marched on her way to Lochleven)
"He who does not keep faith where it is due, will hardly keep it
where it is not due."
(Maxim quoted to her half-brother James Moray during her forced
abdication at Lochleven)
"I have endured injuries, calumnies, imprisonment, famine, cold,
heat, flight not knowing wither, ninety two miles across the country without
stopping or alighting, and then I have had to sleep upon the ground and
drink sour milk, and eat oatmeal without bread, and have been three nights
like the owls."
(To her uncle in France about her escape from Lochleven)
"But I commanded my best friends to permit me to have my own
(To Beaton towards the end of her life, about her decision
to flee to England after the Battle of Langside)
"Alas! Do not as the serpent that stoppeth his
hearing, for I am no enchanter but your sister and natural cousin. If
Caesar had not disclaimed to hear or heede the complaint of an advertiser he
had not so died...I am not of the nature of the basilisk and less of the
chameleon, to turn you to my likeness."
(To Elizabeth of England during the conference of York)
"I would and did mean to have uttered such matter
unto her as I would have done to no other...No one can compel me to accuse
myself, and yet if I would say anything of my self, I would say of myself to
her and to no other."
(To Middlemore about Elizabeth)
"If I shall be holden here perforce, you may be sure
then being as a desperate person I will use any attempts that may serve my
purpose either by myself or my friends."
(To Knollys during her imprisonment at Bolton Castle)
"My Norfolk, you bid me command you, that would be
beside my duty many ways, but pray you I will, that you counsel me not to
take patiently my griefs...I trust none that shall say I ever mind to leave
you, nor to anything that may displease you, for I have determined never to
offend you, but remain yours. I think all well bestowed for your
friendly dealings with me, all undeserved. Our fault were not
shameful: you have promised to be mine, and I yours; I believe the Queen of
England and country should like of it."
(To the Duke of Norfolk in 1570)
"Dear Son, I send three bearers to see you and bring
me word how ye do, and to remember you that ye have in me a loving mother
that wishes you to learn in time to love know and fear God."
(To her son James - the note never reached him)
"I have borne him and God Knoweth with what danger
to him and to me both, and of you he is descended, so I mean not to forget
my duty to you."
(To Lady Lennox, James's grand-mother)
"Tribulation has been to them as a furnace to fine
gold - a means of proving their virtue, of opening their so-long blinded
eyes, and of teaching them to know themselves and their own failings".
(Mary Queen of Scots on the lives of rulers, Essay on Adversity, 1580)
"The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots"
by Robert Herdman (1867)
"I am myself a Queen, the daughter of a King, a stranger, and the
true Kinswoman of the Queen of England. I came to England on my cousins promise of
assistance against my enemies and rebel subjects and was at once imprisoned...As an absolute Queen,
I cannot submit to orders, nor can I submit to the laws of the land
without injury to myself, the King my son and all other sovereign princes...For myself I
do not recognize the laws of England nor do I know or understand them as I have often
asserted. I am alone without counsel, or anyone to speak on my behalf. My papers and notes
have been taken from me, so that I am destitute of all aid, taken at a disadvantage."
"I came into this kingdom under promise
of assistance, and aid, against my enemies and not as a subject, as I
could prove to you had I my papers; instead of which I have been detained
and imprisoned... I do not deny that I have earnestly wished for liberty
and done my utmost to procure it for myself. In this I acted from a
very natural wish...Can I be responsible for the criminal projects of a
few desperate men, which they planned without my knowledge or
"I cannot walk without assistance nor use
my arms, and I spend most of my time confined to bed by sickness...My
advancing age and bodily weakness both prevent me from wishing to resume
the reins of government. I have perhaps only two or three days to
live in this world, and I do not aspire to any public position, especially
when I consider the pain and desperance which meet those who wish to do
right, and act with justice and dignity in the midst of so perverse a
generation, and when a whole world is full of crimes and troubles."
"I do not desire vengeance. I leave
it to Him who is the just Avenger of the innocent and of those who suffer
for His Name under whose power I will take shelter. I would rather
pray with Esther than take the sword with Judith."
"Nau had many peculiarities, likings and
intentions that I cannot mention in public...For my part, I do not wish to
accuse my secretaries, but I can see plainly that what they have said is
from fear of torture and death. Under promise of their lives and in
order to save themselves, they have accused themselves at my expense,
fancying that I could thereby more easily save myself, at the same time,
not knowing where I was, and not suspecting the manner in which I am
treated...If they were in my presence now they would clear me on the spot
of all blame and would have put me out of case."
"There is not one, I think, among you,
let him be the cleverest man you will, but would be incapable of resisting
or defending himself were he in my place."
"I have desired nothing but my own
deliverance...my subjects became sad and haughty and abused my clemency;
indeed they now complain that they were never so well off as under my
government...My lords and gentlemen, I place my cause in the hands of
God...May God keep me from having to do with you all again."
"Mary, Queen of Scots" by an unknown artist,
for one of her supporters after her death
"I thank you for such welcome news.
You will do me great good in withdrawing me from this world out of which I
am very glad to go...all my life I have had only sorrow...If I swear on
the book which I believe to be the true version, will your lordship not
believe my oath more than if I were to swear on a translation in which I
do not believe?"
"Well, Jane Kennedy, did I not tell you
this would happen? I knew they would never allow me to live, I was
too great an obstacle to their religion."