Mary Queen of Scots marries Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley

On this day, 29 July 1565 a marriage took place at the Chapel Royal within the Palace of Holyrood House and it has been creating debate ever since.

The marriage was between twenty two year old Mary Queen of Scots and nineteen year old Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. Both were Catholics and great grand children of Henry VII of England. They therefore had independent legitimate claims to the crown of England and what was more Queen Elizabeth I of England knew it.

Indeed earlier in the year Elizabeth had tried to put a stop to the wedding by ordering her subjects, Darnley and his father the Earl of Lennox back to England. Mary reacted with two week’s worth of violent emotion and both men pinned their colours to Mary’s mast and stayed in Scotland.

Queen Elizabeth I


Mary was deeply in love with the well bread, tall, charming Darnley, and despite the numerous warnings that she should not marry him she decided to ‘abide such fortune as God will send me’. One example of his unsuitability as consort was the day before the wedding when his besotted finance had him proclaimed King of Scotland. In line with his childish character he proceeded to alienate everyone he came across by swaggering and boasting about it.


The ceremony took place at 6am in the morning, with the bride dressed in her widow’s black and the bridegroom adorned from head to toe in jewel encrusted garments. The service was followed by a nuptial mass in which the bridegroom conspicuously failed to participate, citing that he didn’t want people accusing him of favouring idolatry. A strange behaviour for a man purporting to be a dutiful Catholic.


The young couple was keen to make a big show of the fact they were not propelled to marry in order to satisfy any base desires of the flesh and so they only retired to bed at the end of the evening banquet.

John Knox

Over the next few days the court was filled, much to the annoyance of the stanchly Protestant preacher John Knox’s with revelry, feasting, dancing and thanks giving for the country’s new King and Queen. There followed a three-day honeymoon and on their return Mary faced the difficult task of convincing her already unruly nobles, that her husband and their new overlord possessed the abilities necessary to govern



For more on Mary’s marriages read…


Anika Kohler
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