Mary, Queen of Scots, in Pictures

She was briefly Queen of France, and became Queen of Scotland from her infancy. Mary, Queen of Scots, was considered a rival for the throne of Queen Elizabeth I—a particular threat because Mary was a Catholic and Elizabeth a Protestant. Mary's choices in marriage were questionable and tragic, and she was accused of plotting to overthrow Elizabeth. Mary Stuart's son, James VI of Scotland, was the first Stuart King of England, named by Elizabeth as her successor.

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Mary Stuart, Dauphine of France

Mary Stuart, Dauphine of France

Public Domain

The young Mary was sent to France when she was five years old to be raised with her future husband, Francis.

Mary was queen consort from July 1559, when Francis became king at the death of his father, Henry II, until December 1560, when the always-sickly Francis died.

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Mary, Queen of Scots, with Francis II

Francis II, King of France, with his consort, Mary, Queen of Scots, during their brief reign

Public Domain

Mary, Queen of France, with Francis II, during their brief reign, in a portrait from the Book of Hours of Catherine of Medici, mother of Francis.

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Dowager Queen of France

Mary, Queen of Scots, Dowager Queen of France
Getty Images / Hulton Archive

With the sudden death of Francis II, Mary, Queen of Scots, found herself the widow of the King of France at the age of 18.

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Mary, Queen of Scots

Mary, Queen of Scots

Public Domain

Engraving after a painting of Mary, Queen of Scots.

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Mary, Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley

Mary, Queen of Scots, with her second husband, Lord Darnley

Public Domain

Mary impetuously married her cousin, Lord Darnley, against the wishes of Scottish nobles. Queen Elizabeth could see their marriage as a threat, as both were descended from Henry VIII's sister Margaret and thus could assert a claim to Elizabeth's crown.

However, Mary's affection for him soon failed and he was murdered in 1567. Whether Mary was involved in the murder of Darnley has been a controversy ever since the murder happened. Bothwell—Mary's third husband—has often been blamed, and sometimes Mary herself.

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Apartment at Holyrood Palace

Apartment of Mary, Queen of Scots, at Holyrood Palace

Rosaline Orme Masson

Mary's Italian secretary, David Rizzio, was dragged from Mary's apartment, illustrated here, by a group of nobles including her husband, Darnley.

Darnley probably intended to imprison Mary and rule in her place, but she convinced him to escape with her. The other conspirators produced a paper with Darnley's signature that confirmed that Darnley had been in on the planning. The son of Mary and Darnley, James, was born three months after the murder of Rizzio.

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Mary, Queen of Scots, and James VI/I

Mary, Queen of Scots, with her son James, future King of Scotland and King of England

Public Domain

Mary's son by her second husband, Lord Darnley, succeeded her as James VI of Scotland, and succeeded Queen Elizabeth I as James I, beginning Stuart rule.

Though Mary is depicted here with her son James, she did not actually see her son after he was taken from her by Scottish nobles in 1567, when he was less than a year old. He was under the care of her half-brother and enemy, the earl of Moray, and he received little emotional connection or love as a child. When he became king, he had her body moved to Westminster Abbey.

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Fictional Meeting with Elizabeth I

Depiction of a fictional meeting between Mary, Queen of Scots, and Queen Elizabeth I

Public Domain

This illustration depicts a meeting that never happened, between cousins Mary, Queen of Scots, and Elizabeth I.

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House Arrest

Mary, Queen of Scots, Arrested

Public Domain

Mary Stuart was held under house arrest for 19 years on orders of Queen Elizabeth, who saw her as a dangerous rival for the throne.

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Execution

Mary, Queen of Scots, beheaded at Fotheringay Castle

Public Domain

Letters linking Mary, Queen of Scots, to a proposed uprising by Catholics, prompted Queen Elizabeth to order the execution of her cousin.

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Posthumous Depictions

Mary, Queen of Scots, in an 1885 engraving

Public Domain

Long after her death, artists have continued to depict Mary, Queen of Scots.

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Costumes

A costume of Mary, Queen of Scots

Public Domain

An image of Mary, Queen of Scots, from an 1875 book on costume.

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Idealized Images

Mary at Sea— painted about 1565
Stock Montage / Getty Images

In this artist's image of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, she is shown at sea, holding a book. This image depicts her before her abdication in favor of her son, in 1567.