Mary, Queen of Scots, is one of the famous figures in British History.

She is often criticised for not having the political skills of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth, and the rivalry between the two women has spawned numerous fiction works, television shows, and even Hollywood films.

Here are 17 facts about Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots.

1. Mary became Queen of Scotland aged just six days

Mary Queen of Scots Facts

Imagine living your entire life as a Queen. That is essentially what happened to Mary, Queen of Scots.

Her father, James V of Scotland, died after the Scottish defeat at the battle of Solway Moss.

She was just six days old at the time. She was the youngest ever British monarch – by quite some distance!

Because of her age, a succession of regents ruled in her place.

2. She was also Queen of France

Mary Queen of Scots Facts

Aged just five, Mary was shipped off to France. A marriage agreement had been made with the King of France that Mary would marry his son and heir Francis.

She stayed at the French court for the next thirteen years. Essentially, Mary, Queen of Scots, was brought up to be French. In April 1558, she finally married the Dauphin at the famous Notre Dame Cathedral.

One year later, the French King, Henry II, died, and Francis became King of France. Mary, Queen of Scots, also became Queen of France.

However, Francis died in 1560 of an abscess in his brain. Mary was now Dowager Queen of France. She returned to Scotland the following year.

3. She had a strong claim to the English throne

Mary Queen of Scots Facts

Mary Queen of Scots was the granddaughter of Margaret Tudor. Margaret was the eldest daughter of Henry VII of England and Henry VIII elder sister.

Hence she had a legitimate claim to the throne of England.

Many believed that her claim to the throne of England was stronger than that of Elizabeth I. The reason was that Henry VIII declared Elizabeth I illegitimate.

This is why Elizabeth considered her danger and kept her imprisoned when she fled to England after being overthrown by the protestant Lords in Scotland.

There is, of course, another argument that Henry VIII had explicitly excluded the descendants of Margaret Tudor from inheriting the throne in his will. Instead, he said the throne should go to the descendants of his younger sister Mary if his children produced no heirs of their own.

In the end, Mary, Queen of Scots, never became Queen of England, but her son James became King after Elizabeth’s death.

4. Mary Queen of Scots married three times

Mary Queen of Scots Facts

Mary Queen of Scots had three husbands; all met unfortunate ends.

King Francis II of France died of a brain abscess.

Her second husband, Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, was murdered. Mary herself was implicated in the murder plot. Her role in his death was never proven; however, her reputation was hurt across Europe.

Her third husband was Lord Bothwell. There is now a strong belief that Bothwell captured Mary Queen of Scots when she fled the capital after Darnley’s death and forced her to marry him. It certainly didn’t help Mary’s reputation, marrying so soon after the murder of her second husband, especially when it was to the man that most believed killed him.

Bothwell was forced to leave Scotland after Mary’s defeat by the protestant Lords. He ended his days consumed by madness in a Danish prison.

5. Mary, Queen of Scots, caused a war with England

Mary Queen of Scots Facts

Henry VIII thought it would be a good idea for Mary to marry his son Edward.

To cut a rather long story short. The Scots agreed. Then they didn’t!

Henry wasn’t too pleased. And a war took place that became known as the Rough Wooing.

6 . Mary Stuart was incredibly tall

Mary Queen of Scots Facts

During the sixteenth century, people were generally shorter than they are today.

There were, of cause several exceptions.

Henry VIII was unusually tall, as was Mary Queen of Scots.

Some sources suggest that she was six feet tall. Even today that is very tall for a woman. However, officially her height is recorded as 5 foot 11.

7. Mary spoke six different languages

Mary Queen of Scots Facts

European royalty were all highly educated. They had the money to hire the best tutors for their children.

However, Mary, Queen of Scots’ linguistical skills are impressive even by royal standards.
She could speak French, Scots dialect, Italian, Spanish, Greek, and Latin.

Out of all of those, understanding and speaking to her own subjects in Scotland proved to be the hardest. Her mother was French, and she spent most of her childhood in France. On her return to Scotland when she was nineteen, she had to adapt to speaking to her subjects in their own language.


8. She wore white for her wedding

Mary Queen of Scots Facts

This may not seem strange to us today because white is the most common colour for the bride to wear at a wedding. But back during Mary Queen of Scots’ time, white was considered a colour of mourning. So it was highly unusual for a bride to wear it, especially for such a high-profile wedding as the Queen of Scotland to the heir to the throne of France.

9. Mary Stuart played golf and billiards

Mary Queen of Scots Facts

Strange as it may seem, Mary Queen of Scots was a keen golfer. Yes, golf really has been around for a long.

She had a property at St Andrew’s and would play on the famous course. According to legend, she came up with the word “caddie”. Allegedly, it was derived from the military cadets that would carry her clubs. Because of her heavy French accent, the word Cadet transformed into caddie.

How true that is, we will never know.

She also owned a billiard table and even had one when she was in prison in England.

As well as these unusual sports, she would also ride, hunt and play cards.

10. Mary Queen of Scots could write in code

Mary Queen of Scots Facts

While imprisoned in England, Mary would regularly communicate with the outside world through letters that she would write in complex codes.

It was only when Elizabeth’s spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham, intercepted some of Mary’s coded letters that they had proof of her conspiring against Elizabeth so that she may take the throne of England herself.

Walsingham employed skilled codebreakers to break Mary’s cypher.

11. Mary’s most hated prison was Tutbury Castle

Mary Queen of Scots Facts

Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned in numerous castles and country houses in England.

However, the most hated prison of them all was Tutbury Castle in Staffordshire.

Two hundred years before Mary was born, Tutbury was a wreck of a castle. When Mary arrived to be held prisoner there, it was damp and crumbling.

Furniture even had to be provided from the Tower of London and Bess of Hardwick to help furnish the place.

12. Elizabeth offered Mary Queen of Scots her favourite as a husband

Mary Queen of Scots Facts

Before Mary Stuart married Lord Darnley, she suggested to her cousin that she marry Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester.

This was strange because Robert Dudley was Elizabeth’s “favourite.” There was a strong belief around the English court that if Elizabeth would marry anyone, then it would be Dudley.

Elizabeth’s attempts were in desperation, as she hoped to prevent Mary from making a marriage with someone who might strengthen her claim to the English throne.

Mary did not welcome Elizabeth’s attempts to decide who she might marry, and it only served to push her towards Lord Darnley (who was also a descendant of Henry VII.)

13. She witnessed the murder of her secretary

Mary Queen of Scots Facts

Darnley proved to be a most unsuitable husband. He thought that he should be King as he was married to the Queen. He was also a drunk.

Along with some of the Protestant lords, he was not happy at the influence Mary Queen of Scots’ secretary, David Rizzio, had at court.

On the 9th March 1566, a group of these lords, together with Darnley, stabbed Rizzio to death in front of a heavily pregnant Mary.

14. The last time Mary saw her son was when he was ten months old

Mary Queen of Scots Facts

Mary was overthrown as Queen of Scotland by the Protestant Lords who had never liked a Catholic Queen ruling over them. She was forced to abdicate the throne in favour of her baby son, James.

The last time she saw him was when he was just ten months old.

During her final years, she came to believe that James had forsaken her and left her to rot in England.

15. Her final letter was to the King of France

Mary Queen of Scots Facts

On being told that she would die the following day, she wrote a final letter to the King of France.

In that letter, she entrusted the care of her son James to him. Again, this seems strange as James was a man by this point.

16. Her execution was one of the most botched in History

Mary Queen of Scots Facts

It took at least two blows of the axe to remove Mary Queen of Scot’s head at her execution.

The executioner was forced to cut through the last part of the neck using his axe like a knife to remove her head.

Even when he lifted the head from the floor to show it to the crowd, there were problems. The head fell to the ground, leaving Mary’s hair in his hands. The reason for this was that Mary was wearing her best wig for her execution.

It took at least two blows of the axe to remove Mary Queen of Scot’s head at her execution.

The executioner was forced to cut through the last part of the neck using his axe like a knife to remove her head.

Even when he lifted the head from the floor to show it to the crowd, there were problems. The head fell to the ground, leaving Mary’s hair in his hands. The reason for this was that Mary was wearing her best wig for her execution.

17. Her dog was found in her skirts

As they came to clear her body away, legend has it that Mary’s little dog was found in her skirts, unwilling to leave its mistress.