Mary, Queen of Scots Home Page

By popular demand I have created this extensive chronology of Mary's life. The colours show the years during the French (pink), Scottish (blue) and English (red ) eras. The second column shows the age Mary would have been at the time. Important events are in bold.

8 December 1542 0 Mary is born at Linlithgow Palace in West Lothian.
January 1543 0.1 Cardinal Beaton, Archbishop of St Andrews, is appointed Chancellor.
July 1543 0.7 James Hamilton, Earl of Arran, negotiates terms for peace with Henry VIII and the marriage of Mary to his son Edward VI at Greenwich.
9 September 1543 0.9 Mary is crowned Queen of Scotland at Stirling Castle. Her mother, Mary of Guise rules as regent aided by Cardinal Beaton.
December 1543 1 Arran and the Scottish Parliament repudiate the Treaties of Greenwich. Catholic revival supported by Huntly, Lennox and Bothwell.
1544 2 Henry VIII begins a series of raids against Scotland known as the "Rough Wooing", led by the Earl of Hertford. Abbeys of Holyrood Palace, Jedburgh, Kelso and Dryburgh are looted and burnt. Crops and ships are stolen.
1545 3 As a result of the destruction of the Douglas tomb at Melrose, the Earl of Angus with Scott of Buccleugh and Lesley of Rothes defeat and slaughter the English at Ancrum Moor near Jedburgh.
1546 4 Beaton has protestant George Wishart burnt at the stake at St Andrews. He is in turn assassinated by Norman Leslie, James Melville and Kirkcaldy of Grange and his naked body is hung outside of the window of St Andrews Castle.
January 1547 4 Henry VIII dies and the crown passes to Edward VI but England is governed by Hertford, now Duke of Somerset.
9 September 1547 4 Hertford engages battle with the Scots at Pinkie near Musselburgh. 10,000 Scots are killed and 1,500 taken prisoners. Mary is sent to Inchmahome Priory near Stirling for safety.
1548 5 English troops burn Dunbar Castle, Musselburgh (near Edinburgh), Dalkeith and Haddington in East Lothian. Mary is moved to Dumbarton Castle. French troops help the Scots besiege Haddington. Henri II of France promises safety for Mary in return for her marriage to his son, Francois The Dauphin.
7 July 1548 5 Treaty of Haddington is signed between the French and the Scots at the Nunnery of Haddington. Mary is betrothed again.
7 August 1548 5 From Dumbarton Castle, Mary sails down the Clyde Estuary to France with the French fleet. Also with her are her guardians, the Lords Erskine and Livingston, her nurse Jean Sinclair, her governess Lady Fleming, the four Maries, Ladies Fleming, Seton, Livingston and Beaton, three of her half-brothers and other children of the Scottish nobility. Six days later the fleet arrives at Roscoff in France.
March 1550 8 Treaty of Boulogne: peace between England and France is negotiated followed by peace between England and Scotland in June 1551. Mary of Guise visits her daughter in France and asks the French to help her replace Arran as regent.
July 1553 10 Edward VI of England dies. Catholic Mary Tudor succeeds him.
April 1554 11 Arran is finally "persuaded" to resign his post with the bribe of the Dukedom of Châtelherault along with an annual pension.
December 1557 15 Earls of Glencairn, Argyll and Morton and John Erskine of Dun sign the first Bond designed to overthrow the Catholic Church.
Dec 1557 - April 58 15 Ongoing negotiations between the Scots and the French over the Mary-François wedding. Mary of Guise sends Lord James Stewart (Mary's half-brother) and Erskine of Dun as commissioners.
11 April 1558 15 Mary and François are officially betrothed in the Great Hall of the Louvres Palace in Paris.
24 April 1558 15 Mary and François are married in Notre Dame Cathedral. The marriage contract secretly gives away Scotland to France should Mary die.
17 November 1558 15 Mary Tudor dies and Elizabeth is crowned Queen of England.
April 1559 16 England, France and Spain sign the Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis whereby peace in Europe is to be achieved through the marriage of Mary's sister-in-law Princess Elisabeth de Valois to Phillip II of Spain.
September 1559 16 Henri II dies in a jousting tournament and Francois is crowned King of France at Rheims. Mary is Queen of France. More French troops are sent to Scotland to help Marie of Guise against Châtelherault and the Protestant Lords but the confrontation reaches a stalemate.
February 1560 17 Elizabeth of England signs the Treaty of Berwick with the Protestant Scots promising them to help their rebellion against Mary's mother.
March 1560 17 The siege of Leith begins. Marie of Guise moves to Edinburgh Castle on 1st April.
11 June 1560 17 Marie of Guise dies of dropsy, an accumulation of fluid in the body.
6 July 1560 17 The Treaty of Edinburgh is signed. The purpose that French and English troops would withdraw from Scotland but Mary and François were to agree to give up claim to the English crown and recognize Elizabeth as rightful Queen.
November 1560 17 After a day's hunting François gets an ear infection which leaves him dangerously ill. Rumour has it that he may have been poisoned.
5 December 1560 17 François dies and Mary loses the French crown. Her mother-in-law Catherine of Medici moves in for the kill. She becomes regent on behalf of her other son, Charles IX.
25 July 1561 18 Following the Scottish proposals advanced by James Stuart, her half-brother, Mary leaves Paris for Calais accompanied by friends, three uncles, household servants and the four Maries.
14 August 1561 18 Not able to delay her departure any further while waiting for Elizabeth's safe passage permission, she sets off.
19 August 1561 18 Mary's ships sail into Leith Harbour at about nine o'clock in the morning.
January 1562 19 Mary attends her half-brother, Lord John's wedding to Lady Janet Hepburn at Crichton Castle.
10 August 1562 to November 1562 19 Mary goes to Linlithgow Palace followed by Stirling, Perth, Coupar Angus, Glamis Castle, Edzell Castle and Aberdeen. Next she visits Darnaway, Inverness, Spynie Palace, Aberdeen again, Dunnottar Castle, Montrose, Stirling again and finally back to Edinburgh. She also stays at Balvenie Castle and Arbroath Abbey.
28 October 1562 19 Lord James, now Earl of Moray and Maitland of Lethington meet up with the Gordons at Corrichie near Aberdeen following George Gordon, Earl of Huntly's rebellion against Mary. Sir John Gordon is executed and Huntly convicted of treason post-humously.
11 February 1563 20 Mary leaves for Rossend Castle. Pierre de Châtelard, a young French poet infatuated with Mary travels along although banished from court for having been found hiding under her bed at Holyrood. At Rossend he barges into her room while she is being disrobed and assaults her until Moray comes to the rescue. He is tried and executed at St Andrews. She continues to Falkland and then back to Edinburgh on 18 May.
1 July 1563 20 Mary travels to Dunipace, Glasgow, Hamilton, Dumbarton Castle, Inveraray Castle, Dunoon, Eglington. Then on to Ayr, Dunure, Ardmillan, Ardstinchar, the Abbey of Glenluce, the Priory of Whithorn, Kenmure Castle, St Mary's Isle, Dumfries, Drumlanrig Castle, Crawfordjohn, Couthalley, Neidpath Castle, Borthwick Castle, Dalhousie and Roslin. She returns to Edinburgh in September 1563 after a visit at Craigmillar Castle.
21 July 1564 21 Mary embarks on her northernmost progress. She visits Linlithgow again, then Perth, Blair Castle, Inverness, Beauly Priory, Dingwall, Gartly Castle, Aberdeen and Dundee. She is back by 15 September.
16 January 1565 22 Mary visits Falkland again, Balfour Castle, Ballinbreich Castle, Balmerino Abbey and St Andrews. Then on to Struthers, Lundin Tower, Wemyss Castle, Dunfermline Abbey. She is back in Edinburgh by 24 February 1565.
16 February 1565 22 Mary meets Darnley for the first time since her return to Scotland at Wemyss Castle. He re-joins her in Edinburgh after a quick visit to his father in Dunkeld.
April 1565 22 Mary nurses Darnley through a bout of measles. Moray, Ruthven, Morton, Glencairn and Châtelherault sign a bond to prevent the Mary-Darnley marriage.
May 1565 22 Mary makes Darnley Earl of Ross. Lord Robert Stewart is made Earl of Orkney and Shetland and Lord Erskine, Earl of Mar.
July 1565 22 Mary issues a proclamation declaring that she will not interfere in religious matters. She also seeks a papal dispensation for her marriage as her and Darnley are blood relatives, but she does not wait for it to arrive.
16 July 1565 22 Mary and Darnley ride to Seton Palace and stay two nights there. The following Sunday their banns are announced.
29 July 1565 22 Mary and Darnley are married in the chapel of Holyrood Palace.
26 August 1565 22 Mary sets out towards Stirling to confront Moray and the rebellious Lords. This is the start of the Chaseabout Raid.
22 September 1565 22 After a visit at Huntingtower Castle, Mary returns to Edinburgh to muster more support.
8 October 1565 22 Mary with her forces and Darnley arrive at Lochmaben Castle where they attend a banquet. Meanwhile, Moray crossed the English border when he realized that there was to be no English help. In Dumfries, Mary met the Earl of Bothwell and made him her lieutenant-general when he joined her campaign.
March 1566 23 For fear of reprisals, the Lords involved in the Chaseabout Raid and Darnley sign a bond with the object of upholding the protestant faith, remove David Rizzio, Mary's Secretary and convey the crown matrimonial to the by now estranged Darnley. Maitland carefully avoids signing.
9 March 1566 23 David Rizzio is savagely stabbed to death at Holyrood, in front of the heavily pregnant Mary by the Patrick Ruthven, accompanied by Darnley and the Earl of Morton's men. Mary is detained at Holyrood while the Lords issue a proclamation in Darnley's name that the Chaseabout Raid rebels were pardoned. Moray conveniently returns from exile and expresses surprise at the murder.
12 March 1566 23 With the help of Bothwell and her equerry Arthur Erskine, Mary and Darnley escape unnoticed out of Holyrood to Dunbar Castle. She is joined there by Huntly, Fleming, Seton, Atholl, Balfour and Bothwell. She offers to pardon the perpetrators of the Chaseabout Raid but not those of the murder of Rizzio. Morton, Lindsay and Ruthven retreat to England, Maitland flees north and Knox west.
18 March 1566 23 Mary returns to Edinburgh and accepts Moray, Glencairn and Argyll back into her Council. She awaits the birth of her child at Edinburgh Castle for safety.
3 June 1566 23 In preparation for the birth Mary sends for the midwife, Margaret Aestane and for the relics of St Margaret of Scotland.
19 June 1566 23 After a long and painful labour which started the day before, James VI is born.
August 1566 23 Mary goes on a hunting trip to Traquair House with Darnley but sends the baby to Stirling for safety.
October 1566 23 Progress to Jedburgh where she hears of Bothwell's injury by "Wee Jock Elliot". She rides to Hermitage Castle and back to see him and falls very ill as a result. Bothwell visits her but not Darnley.
November 1566 23 After stopping at Kelso, Hume Castle, Langton Castle, Eyemouth, Dunbar and Tantallon Castle, Mary and her advisers discuss what to do about Darnley at Craigmillar Castle. It is suggested to Mary that Darnley should be assassinated, a plan which Mary rejects.
17 December 1566 24 James VI is baptized at Stirling Chapel. Darnley does not attend the ceremony. The godparents are the King of France, the Duke of Savoy and Elizabeth I.
24 December 1566 24 Mary pardons the Rizzio murderers and spends some days at Drummond Castle accompanied by Bothwell, while Darnley retreats to Glasgow suffering of syphilis.
January 1567 24 Mary visits Darnley in Glasgow and persuades him to return to Edinburgh with her.
1 February 1567 24 Mary and Darnley arrive in Edinburgh and Darnley is put up at Kirk o'Field, a house owned by the Hamiltons, for fear of contaminating the baby. Mary is cordial to him and it is agreed that he should return to Holyrood.
9 February 1567 24 Mary attends one of her page's wedding at Holyrood but also spends some time with Darnley. At 10 p.m. she remembers that she promised to attend the masque and leaves again. At about 2 a.m. an explosion destroys Kirk o'Field. Darnley's naked body and that of his servant's are found strangled in the orchard.
March 1567 24 Mary goes to mourn at Seton Castle. The Earl of Lennox, Darnley's father, openly accuses Bothwell of the murder.
12 April 1567 24 Bothwell attends his trial at the Tolbooth in Edinburgh but Lennox fears to show himself. For want of witnesses the prosecution has no case and Bothwell is acquitted.
19 April 1567 24 Mary tries to regain support among her Lords while Bothwell gets 29 of them to sign the Ainslie Tavern Bond in which they agree to support his claims to marry Mary.
24 April 1567 24 Mary visits her son at Stirling for the last time. On her way back to Edinburgh she is abducted willingly or not by Bothwell and his men and taken to Dunbar Castle where she may have been raped by him.
6 May 1567 24 Mary and Bothwell return to Edinburgh after staying at Hailes Castle.
7 May 1567 24 Bothwell obtains a divorce from his wife, Lady Jean Gordon.
14 May 1567 24 The marriage contract is signed.
15 May 1567 24 Mary and Bothwell are married according to Protestant rites at 10 a.m. The couple retires to Borthwick Castle. Meanwhile, the Lords having once again turned against Bothwell organize an army to meet them on the way. Mary and Bothwell escape from Borthwick and move on to Dunbar.
15 June 1567 24 Mary and Bothwell with the support of Huntly and Crawford confront the Lords at Carberry Hill. There is no battle but Mary agrees to follow the Lords on condition that they let Bothwell go. But the Lords break their promise and take her to the Lord Provost's House in Edinburgh and then to Lochleven Castle as their prisoner.
24 June 1567 24 Mary abdicates in favour of her son under duress. James VI is crowned at Stirling and Moray becomes regent.
July 1567 24 Mary suffers a miscarriage. The father was most probably Bothwell but the date of conception is unclear.
2 May 1568 25 Mary escapes from Lochleven with the help of two of the young Douglases. She is met by Lord Seton on the other bank and travels to Niddry Castle and then Cadzow Castle. She gathers 6,000 men.
13 May 1568 25 Mary's troops meet those of Moray at Langside but are defeated. She flees to Terregles Castle and then to Dundrennan Abbey. Against the advice of Lords Herries, Fleming, Livingston, Boyd and George Douglas, she decides to seek help from England.
16 May 1568 25 Disguised as an ordinary woman, Mary crosses the River Solway and lands at Workington. She spends her first night at Workington Hall owned by a friend of Lord Herries.
18 May 1568 25 Mary is escorted to Carlisle Castle after spending a day at Cockermouth.
8 June 1568 25 Elizabeth finally sends her emissary Middlemore to announce that she will not receive Mary in London until she has been cleared of all accusations against her at an enquiry to be set up by Elizabeth. Mary is moved to Bolton Castle shortly after, stopping at Lowther Castle and Wharton for two nights.
Ocotber 1568 25 The Conference of York opens with Moray producing the forged "Casket Letters" to prove Mary's guilt in the murder of Darnley. Mary is neither allowed to see the evidence nor attend in person.
11 January 1569 26 The Conference of Westminster concludes that although Moray had produced insufficient evidence, Mary had not managed to prove that the Scottish Lords had rebelled against her unjustly, and she is remanded in custody.
3 February 1569 26 Mary reaches the depressing Tutbury Castle after a long journey during which she is ill between Rotherham & Chesterfield.
12 May 1569 26 Mary's health seriously deteriorates at Chatsworth Castle.
June 1569 26 Mary applies to the Pope for a divorce from Bothwell in view of a possible marriage with the Duke of Norfolk.
July 1569 26 At the Perth Convention, Moray turns down Mary's restoration proposal by a vote of 40 to 9. Elizabeth discovers the marriage plot and sends Norfolk to the Tower and Mary back to Tutbury in a rage.
November 1569 26 The Catholic Rising by the Earls of Northumberland & Westmorland fails. Although Mary did not approve, she is sent further away from the rebels to Coventry Castle but stays at an inn instead, followed by a house in the centre of town.
11 January 1570 27 Moray is shot dead by a Hamilton. Mary rewards the assassin of her treacherous half-brother with a pension.
May 1570 27 Mary is taken back to Chatsworth and another ill-conceived plan to liberate Mary is hatched by Sir Thomas Gerard, local catholic squire, two brothers Francis & George Rolleston, John Hall and Edward & Thomas Stanley. Mary also disapproves of this one which is betrayed by one of the Rollestons and nipped in the bud.
August 1570 27 Norfolk is released from the Tower.
October 1570 27 Cecil & Mildmay visit Mary at Sheffield Castle to propose a long list of articles aiming at an alliance with Elizabeth. Mary is enthusiastic and willing to compromise but nothing comes out of the proposals.
August 1571 28 The Scottish Regent Lennox, Darnley's father, is killed during a raid on Stirling. Morton takes over.
September 1571 28 Norfolk is arrested once more for his involvement in the Ridolfi Plot.
January 1572 29 Norfolk is tried for High Treason and executed in June.
24 August 1572 29 In France, Mary's Guise uncles instigate the St Bartholomew's Day Massacre of Protestant Huguenots.
October 1572 29 The Earl of Mar is dead - Morton is confirmed as Regent in name and deed.
May 1573 30 Edinburgh Castle still held by Marian supporters falls under the English gunners. Kirkcaldy is executed and Maitland dies either of natural causes or suicide.
August 1574 31 Augustine Raullett, Mary's secretary, dies and is replaced by Claude Nau. Mary enters a quiet period in her confinement.
1577 34 There are plans to marry Mary to Philip of Spain's illegitimate brother, Don John of Austria but her marriage to Bothwell has still not been annulled. Mary makes a will in which she wishes her son James to marry a Spanish princess and convert to Catholicism.
April 1578 35 Bothwell dies in his Danish prison, followed by Don John six months later, and with him Mary's hopes of freedom.
1581 - 1584 39 Mary launches the idea of the "Association" whereby her and James would rule jointly in Scotland. She enlists the help of Patrick Gray to negotiate, but he finds it more profitable to convince James that an alliance with and subsidy from Elizabeth would be more beneficial to his advancement. However, in July, James falsely welcomes Mary's idea.
1581 39 The English Government passes the Act of Persuasions which makes it high treason to reconcile to the Catholic Faith.
November 1583 40 Walsingham, Elizabeth's new secretary of state, uncovers the Throckmorton Plot. Francis Throckmorton, cousin of Nicholas Throckmorton, is arrested for carrying secret correspondence to Mary. He confesses and incriminates her.
Summer 1584 41 Mary visits Buxton baths for the last time. She carves a farewell message on the window pane with a diamond.
September 1584 41 Mary is taken out of the care of her jailer Shrewsbury and handed into that of Ralph Sadler, following domestic scandals.
28 November 1584 41 Nau draws up 28 heads of proposals on the Association in which Mary sacrifices a great deal in exchange for freedom.
January 1585 42 Mary is once more moved to Tutbury Castle, into the care of the unsympathetic Amyas Paulet.
March 1585 42 James officially repudiates the Association with his mother. Mary is devastated but blames mostly Patrick Gray.
Spring 1585 42 The English Parliament enact the "Bond of Association" (external site), a statute whereby Mary is to be held responsible for any plot instigated in her name, be it with or without her knowledge or approval.
Christmas Eve 1585 43 Mary is moved to Chartley Hall and severely ill, takes to bed for over four weeks.
16 January 1586 43 Walsingham starts off the first part of his plan to ensnare Mary. She receives her first correspondence in months through Gilbert Gifford, Walsingham's agent and the connivance of a local brewer also bought by Walsingham.
25 June 1586 43 Mary is introduced via letter to Anthony Babington, young and zealous catholic whose plan to liberate Mary becomes entangled with Walsingham's set up at this point.
14 July 1586 43 Babington sends Mary a letter in which he unwisely discloses the details of his plot, including "the dispatch of the usurping Competitor" (the assassination of Elizabeth).
17 July 1586 43 Against her secretaries' advice, Mary replies approving all his plans. Walsingham's decipherer, Phelippes, draws the gallows sign on the letter. A postcript is added (to be later removed) asking for the names of all those involved in the plot.
14 August 1586 43 Babington is arrested and sent to the Tower. He confesses all on the 18th.
11 August 1586 43 Mary, still unaware, is offered by Paulet to go for a ride outdoors. This is so that Elizabeth's emissary can arrest her en route. Nau and Curle, Mary's secretaries are taken to London while Mary and her physician, Bourgoing, are marched towards Tixall. A fortnight later, she is removed to Chartley where her possessions were seized. Nau and Curle confess. Nau is sent to France and Curle remains in prison for another year.
25 September 1586 43 Mary arrives at Fotheringhay Castle after spending one night at Hill Hall near Abbot's Bromley and two nights at Leicester, house of the Earl of Huntingdon.
1st October 1586 43 Paulet announces to Mary that she will be interrogated and should own up to her misdeeds. She refuses.
8 October 1586 43 The Commissioners assemble at Westminster to hear the evidence, and agree to try Mary under the Act of Association.
11 October 1586 43 The Commissioners start arriving at Fotheringhay.
14 October 1586 43 Mary yields to pressure and agrees to appear in person to answer the single charge of plotting Elizabeth's assassination.
15 October 1586 43 Mary enters the room directly above the Great Hall at nine o'clock for the first day of the trial. When it finishes the next day, no verdict is reached as Elizabeth has ordered it to be prorogued pending her decision.
25 October 1586 43 The Commissioners reconvene in the Star Chamber in London.
1st November 1586 43 Paulet rudely interrupts Mary in prayer but fails to extract from her the confession desired by Elizabeth.
19 November 1586 43 Lord Brockhurst breaks the news to Mary of her forthcoming execution but obtains no repentance or confession either. Mary spends the next two days doing her correspondence.
4 December 1586 43 Parliament obtains a public proclamation from Elizabeth of the sentence of death. All attempts on Mary's behalf are annihilated by Walsingham, and Mary's farewell letter to Elizabeth is not dispatched.
11 December 1586 44 Mary again writes to Elizabeth to urge her to speed her execution but Paulet refuses to send the letter.
1st February 1587 44 Elizabeth finally signs the Death Warrant.
7 February 1587 44 Mary and her remaining servants are finally notified of the date of the execution.
8 February 1587 44 Mary is executed in the Great Hall of Fotheringhay between the hours of nine and ten in the morning.