Scotlands History

Lord Darnley

After establishing herself in Scotland, the young Mary set about the difficult and important duty of finding a husband and providing an heir to the throne. Her eventual choice would prove disastrous.

A number of men were suggested as a suitable match. Don Carlos of Spain was one possibility - despite the fact that a Catholic royal marriage between Scotland and Spain would have made an enemy of Elizabeth I of England and trouble among the Scots Reformers.

Elizabeth I suggested that Mary should marry Robert Dudley. Mary quickly rejected Dudley. He was a Protestant, was suspected of killing his wife and was rumoured to have been Queen Elizabeth's lover.

When Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, appeared at court in Edinburgh it seemed that Mary had met her match. Darnley was young and handsome. He shared a passion for hunting, dance and music with Mary. Darnley and Mary were both grandchildren of Margaret Tudor and he belonged to an ambitious family of English nobles. Importantly, a marriage to Darnley would strengthen Mary’s claim, and their children’s claim, to the English throne.

On Sunday 29 July 1565 Mary Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley were married in the Chapel-Royal of the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Their Catholic wedding ceremony was performed by the Bishop of Brechin, grandson of William St Clair, the founder of Rosslyn Chapel. Darnley left the chapel as Mary celebrated the Catholic Mass. Mary married in black mourning clothes but had over a dozen new gowns made for the wedding celebrations. Mary was infatuated with her new husband. The English ambassador said that Mary was ‘bewitched’ by Darnley.

Her happiness would be short lived.

  • Portrait of Lord Darnley

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