Arthur Conan Doyle: author of Sherlock Holmes

arthur conan doyle

Arthur Conan Doyle

When we think of writers of the 19th century, one that stands out in our mind has to be the legendary Arthur Conan Doyle, author of Sherlock Holmes.

Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle was born on the 22nd May 1859, in Edinburgh, Scotland.  His parents were Charles Altamont Doyle and Mary Foley.  Doyle more than likely got his talent for writing from his mother, for she was noted for her story telling.

Aged just nine, he was sent off to a Jesuit boarding school in England.  Where he found he was good at cricket, and had a talent much like his mother as a; story teller.

In 1876, aged seventeen he graduated ready to face what the world would throw at him.  His first task was to co-sign the papers, which would see his father committed to a lunatic asylum, for he was seriously demented.

Arthur was influenced by the family lodger at that time; Dr. Bryan Charles Weller.  So Arthur Doyle followed in his footsteps, by training to become a doctor at Edinburgh University.

As a young medical student he met Robert Louis Stevenson, who was also studying at the university.  One man who left a lasting impression upon him, was Dr. Joseph Bell one of his teachers.  For he was a master of observation, logic, deduction and diagnosis, all the qualities found in a good writer, which would be used in the character of Sherlock Holmes.

Chambers Journal an Edinburgh based magazine, accepted his first short-story “The Mystery of Sasassa Valley.”  His second attempt was “The American Tale” which was published in the London Society magazine.  He soon learnt one could be paid for good fictional stories.

At the age of twenty, Doyle took a break from his studies and joined a whaling ship as ship’s surgeon, as it travelled to the Arctic Circle.  The adventure of whaling and camaraderie on board fascinated the young medical student, for his soul had been awakened and parts are found within his chilling tale; “Captain of the Pole-Star.”

Doyle returned to his studies in the autumn of 1880, and a year later graduated with a “Bachelor of Medicine” and “Master of Surgery” degree.  He drew a sketch of himself receiving his diploma, with a witty caption; “Licensed to Kill.”

His first job as a fully qualified doctor was as a Medical Officer onboard the Mayumba, working between England and Africa.  He came to hate Africa compared with the love of the Arctic.  He resigned his position when they returned home.

Upon arriving back in England, worked at a Plymouth doctor’s practice, which he described to, be rather dubious in its workings.  It was not until forty years later, that the events of those times were published as part of “The Stark Munro Letters.”

With bankruptcy looming just around the corner, he took the brave decision to leave Plymouth and open his own practice in Portsmouth.  The early years were hard, but by year three his hard work and dedication was showing a reasonable income, and in August 1885 he married Louisa Hawkins.

In March of 1886 he started writing the novel which was to catapult him to fame.  Originally titled “A Tanged Skein” but by the time of its release had been given a new title “A Study in Scarlet” and so Sherlock Homes and Dr.Watson were to become household names.

His second novel “Micah Clark” was well received, but did not get the notable fame he had so wanted.  His third novel “The Mystery of Cloomber” showed a different side to Doyle’s writing.  For on one hand, he is capable of writing with pure logic and deduction, and on the other hand he enters the world of paranormal and spiritualism.

His life was to change in so many ways, when he met with Joseph Marshall Stoddart, publisher of Lippincott’s Monthly magazine in Philadelphia and Oscar Wilde at the Langham Hotel in London.

He received a commission to write a short novel for Lippincott’s magazine, which was published in 1890 in England and the United States simultaneously.  “The Sign of Four” established Conan Doyle and his character Sherlock Homes as a serious fictional writer.

Doyle was restless for on one hand, he had achieved a profitable medical practice, and been accepted by his readers and the publishing fraternity as a serious writer.  Life improved further when his daughter was born; Mary Conan Doyle.

He travelled to Vienna to specialise in Ophthalmology, but following a visit to Paris where he experienced language issues, returned home and opened a new practice in London’s Upper Wimpoole Street.  It was to prove a disaster as not a single patient crossed the threshold.

His days of working as a doctor were slowly fading, giving way to the calling of an author, and in summer of 1891 he ceased being a doctor, to concentrate his time on writing.

Sherlock Holmes Silhouette

Sherlock Holmes

Conan Doyle was represented by A.P.Watt and it was he who struck a deal with Strand Magazine to publish the Sherlock Holmes stories.  Sidney Paget the illustrator created the image of Holmes, and was instrumental in making the author, the magazine and artist; world famous.

In 1892, his wife gave birth to their son; Kingsley Doyle.

Whilst in Switzerland, Doyle found the place where Sherlock Holmes and his arch enemy Professor Moriarty would plunge to their deaths; The Reichenbach Falls.  The Final Problem was published in December 1893.

In the latter years of the 19th century his wife Louisa was diagnosed with Tuberculosis, with only months to live.  He continued his writing and cared for her, determined to keep her alive into the new century.

Doyle declared to the public his interest in Spiritualism and the occult by joining the Society for Psychical Research.  Then in September 1894, sailed to New York to give thirty lectures and arrived back in England by Christmas to see his new series “The Brigadier Gerard” stories published in the Strand Magazine.  They were an instant success with the readers.

In the winter of 1896, travelled to Egypt hoping the warmer climate would assist his wife’s health.  Whilst there he created the idea; “The Tragedy of the Korosko.”

Conan Doyle cared for his wife Louisa dearly, the mother of his two children and is said to have remained faithful whilst she lived.  Yet he fell in love with Jean Leckie in March of 1897, when she was twenty-four.  An intellectual woman, interested in sports and a mezzo-soprano singer with family ties to the legendary Scottish hero; Rob Roy.

It was about this time he wrote the play based on Sherlock Holmes, revised for the purpose by American actor, William Gillette, and the play became a success in America and England.

With the outbreak of the Boer War, Doyle volunteered for active service, but was turned down as a soldier but accepted as a doctor.  In February 1900, Doyle was not fighting bullets, but typhoid.

On his return he entered the world of politics, running for a seat in Central Edinburgh, one which he lost.  He did try again in 1906 London, and lost once again.

In August 1901 he released the first episode of his novel; “The Hound of the Baskervilles” in the Strand Magazine, which was to delight his fans and became a worldwide hit, as it still is to this day.

1902 was a great day for Arthur Conan Doyle, for he was knighted by King Edward VII for his services during the Boer War.

1903, the Strand magazine published, “The Return of Sherlock Holmes.”

On the 4th July 1906, his beloved wife Louisa and mother to his two children died in his arms.  He slipped into a state of depression which continued for many months.  A little over a year later on the 18th September 1907, Conan Doyle and Jean Leckie were married, and moved to Windlesham in East Sussex with his children

His literary works faded slightly as he shared his wife’s pursuits.  Produced a few plays, “Brigadier Gerard, The Tragedy of the Korosko” and “The House of Temperley” none of which fared well.

His next play was more captivating, for it featured Sherlock Holmes.  Original title was The “Stonor Case” and later named as “The Speckled Band” received rave reviews and was a success at the box office.

His son Denis Doyle (1909), Adrian Doyle (1910) and Jean Doyle (1912) were born to his wife Jean.

His new character Professor Challenger in “The Lost World” which involved a group stranded in South America whilst discovering prehistoric animal and plant life.  It was extended and became a set of five novels, which was noted as one of his masterpieces.

“The Valley of Fear” a Sherlock Holmes novel, was serialised in 1914 in the Strand magazine.  It was to disappoint some of its readers as Sherlock Holmes was not present much of the time.

In May of 1914 Sir Arthur and Lady Conan Doyle visited New York and Canada returning to England within the month, for Conan sensed war was coming, and wanted to be back on home soil.  He was right and as World War One broke out he enlisted, but aged fifty-five he was turned down for active service. In the latter part of 1914, he released the novel “His Last Bow” a tale of intrigue where his famous character Sherlock Holmes steps in and infiltrates a German spy-ring and goes on to expose and destroy it.

In 1916, whilst writing “The British Campaign in France and Flanders” he was granted permission to view the battle fronts first-hand.  The horrors he witnessed would live with him for the rest of his life; blood soaked remains of fallen soldiers, lay in their thousands upon the battle fields.

The savagery of war left its mark with Doyle:

On the 28th October 1918 his son Kingsley Doyle died from pneumonia during convalescence after being badly wounded during the Battle of the Somme in 1916.  His brother Brigadier-General Innes Doyle died, from pneumonia in February in 1919.

Conan Doyle’s character of Sherlock Holmes, also carried through to Doyle himself.  Maybe that is why he rose up in defence of Sir Roger Casement, accused of being a traitor.  He proved without doubt a case of insanity which almost saved his life.  However his case failed on discovery of homosexuality which was classed as a criminal offence at that time.

Doyle switched direction in his latter years, to that of Science Fiction and Spiritualism.  As his involvement deepened in the occult, little fiction was written for he concentrated more on the subject of Spiritualism.

Then in 1926 released “The Land of Mist, The Disintegration Machine” and “When the World Screamed” a set of Professor Challenger mysteries

In 1928 he compiled twelve stories about Sherlock Holmes adventures which became known as “The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes.”

Autumn 1929 and Conan Doyle was diagnosed as suffering with Angina Pectoris.  Then on a cold day in 1930, he rose from his bed at the family home; Windlesham Manor, Crowborough, East Sussex and was discovered in the garden clutching his heart and holding a single white snowdrop.

Arthur Conan Doyle died on Monday 7th July 1930 in the presence of his family, aged seventy-one.  His final words aimed at his wife were: You are wonderful.  He was buried on the 11th July 1930 in “Windlesham Rose Garden”

We have lived for many years, with Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories of the great detective SHERLOCK HOLMES, whether it be in book form or on television.

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Scotland: Alexander III’s Legacy

Alexander III of Scotland

Alexander III of Scotland

On a wild and stormy night in 1286, King Alexander III of Scotland was riding to Kinghorn, and changed horses at Burntisland.  The storm was so fierce, trees were bending with the winds, it was suggested that Alexander should hold up at Burntisland for the night, to let the storm ease.  He wouldn’t hear of it, he wanted to get home.  He lost control of his horse, and it galloped over a steep cliff, and both Alexander and his horse plunged to their deaths.

The events of that night, had far reaching consequences across Scotland, and changed its path of history, for centuries to come.

Plantagenet England, in the shape of King Edward I, saw his chance, to gain control of Scotland.

Margaret Maid of Norway

Margaret – Maid of Norway

The heir of King Alexander III of Scotland was Margaret the Maid of Norway.  Margaret was the daughter of King Eric II of Norway, and granddaughter of King Alexander III of Scotland.  She became Queen, aged just two.

The “Guardians of Scotland,” negotiated a marriage between Margaret, the Maid of Norway and Queen of Scotland with Prince Edward of Caernarvon, son of King Edward I of England.  An agreement was made through the “Treaty of Birgham,” that the children of Margaret and Edward would rule both England and Scotland.

Margaret was taken ill in 1290, during the sea voyage from Norway to Scotland.  Her ships destination had been Leith, but rough seas, blew them towards Orkney.  They took shelter from the storms at St.Margaret’s Hope on South Ronaldsay in the Orkney’s.

Margaret never saw her future husband, as she died in the Orkney’s, in the September of 1290.  Her body was returned to Norway, and laid to rest beside her mother in Christ’s Kirk, Bergen.

With the death of Margaret, the Maid of Norway, the Scots had no true heir to the throne, and Anglo-Scottish relations lay in tatters.

King Edward I a

King Edward I

The Scottish nobles could not agree upon a successor to the throne, and turned to King Edward I of England to arbitrate for them.

No fewer than thirteen claimants to the Scottish throne stepped forward.  Edward wanted a puppet King, one who would answer to him, and so John Balliol was chosen.

Over the next four hundred years, Scotland took on the might of English forces, in their bid for Independence.

1603, saw the change in Scotland’s history… James VI of Scotland becomes King James I of England, bringing about the “Union of Crowns.”

In 1707 the “Act of Union,” brought England and Scotland together, with the creation of a single Parliament of the United Kingdom at the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament).

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Scotland’s Act of Union 1707

Scotland - Act of Union 1707

Signing the Act of Union by Queen Anne

Key dates in the history of the union between England and Scotland:

Queen Elizabeth I of England dies in 1603 and James VI of Scotland becomes James I of England.  The kingdoms remain separate but are ruled by a single monarch.

The Glorious Revolution of 1688/89 sees the Catholic James II deposed in favour of his Protestant daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange.

In the year 1700, William the Duke of Gloucester, William and Mary’s nephew and heir presumptive dies, aged eleven.

In the year 1701, James Edward Stuart, son of the James II (known as the Old Pretender in England), recognised as heir to the English and Scottish thrones by Louis XIV of France.  The Act of Settlement in England leaves Scotland to make its own choice of succeeding monarch.

In the March of 1702 William III dies.

In the November of 1702 Queen Anne, William’s sister-in-law opens negotiations with the Scottish Parliament.

Stormy negotiation of 1703-1704, end in deadlock.

The Aliens Act restricts Scottish trade with England in 1705.

First proposal for a United Kingdom of Great Britain is laid on the table in 1706.  In July the sealed Articles of Union are presented to Queen Anne.

In January 1707, articles are ratified by the Scottish Parliament, then in March ratified by the English Parliament.  In the May the Act of Union becomes law in both countries, now united into a single kingdom.

In 1715 the first Jacobite Rebellion is in favour of the Old Pretender.  Then in 1745 a second Jacobite Rebellion sees Bonnie Prince Charlie defeated.  In 1746 the clan system is dismantled by Act of Parliament.

Scotland’s Four Kingdoms

Map - Scotland

Map of Scotland

With the departure of the Roman’s from Scotland, four kingdoms emerged.

The Picts covered northern Scotland from the River Forth to the Shetlands, and are also remembered for their carved symbol stones.

The Britons wrote poetry in Old Welsh, and held Dumbarton Rock and the South.

The Gaelic speaking people of Dal Riato famed for their metalwork, like the Hunterston Brooch which dates from around AD 700, showing the Gaels, to be a highly artistic culture.

The Angles, Germanic invaders who held the Kingdom of Bernicia, who brought with them the Anglo-Saxon tongue, which became the Scots language.

In the early years of the 7th century, the Angles captured Edinburgh from the Britons, then pushed west to Galloway.  In AD685, they struck north into Pictland, reaching a climax at Dunnichen.  In the Battle of Dunnichen, King Bridei of the Picts, massacred the King of the Angles.

In AD793 the ferocious raids began on monasteries; Iona and Lindisfarne among others, creating fear and confusion across the kingdoms.  Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles fell to these Norsemen.

In AD839 the Vikings wiped out the Pictish royal family.  Competitors emerged for the kingship, and Kenneth MacAlpine, King of the Gaels of Dal Riata, became the undisputed King of the Picts in AD849.  He brought with him the relics of St.Columba from the island of Iona to Dunkeld – the saint and his preaching’s were a powerful symbol of authority to accompany a Gaelic king to his new kingdom.  Pictland hadn’t been fully conquered, but rather the foundations had been set for a new Gaelic Kingdom which included the Picts.

It wasn’t long before the Vikings were back, this time to conquer Britain.  In AD867 they seized the Anglian Kingdom of Northumbria, followed up three years later, by storming Dunbarton Fortress, and went on to conquer much of Britain.  The Picts and Gaels found themselves encircled by Viking forces.

In AD900 Constantine mac Aed became King of the Picts.  In less than four years had defeated the Vikings at Strathcarron, not a battle of the sword but one out of diplomacy.  He married off his daughters to the Vikings, creating an alliance along Gaelic lines and renaming it Alba.  Alba was the creation of the Scottish nation, and the founding father was Constantine II, grandson of Kenneth MacAlpine.

In AD934 Ethelstan, the Anglo-Saxon King of England set about subduing the north of Britain to his will.  He attacked Constantine at Dunnottar, but failed in his quest.  Constantine invaded Britain but was defeated at the Battle of Brunanburh.  Even though Constantine lost the battle he achieved in joining the Picts and Gaels into a single Gaelic speaking nation.

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Scotland’s Birth from Palaeolithic Times

Scotlands Pre-Historic Time

10,000 BC: The earliest known occupation of Scotland by man, started in the Palaeolithic era, also known as the Stone Age.  Man lived off the land and waters, hunting for fish and wild animals, gathering fruit, plants, roots, nuts and shells.

Stone Age Man

Stone Age Man

3,000 BC: Early prehistoric tools discovered in Scotland, date back to the Neolithic age, and the nomadic hunter-gatherers.  It was a time when farmers built permanent dwellings.

120 AD: Much of Scotland’s history, started when the Roman’s arrived in Britain.  As hard as they tried, Roman forces could not defeat the Caledonians and Picts.  Fortifications were built by the Romans, to defend themselves against these warriors, in the shape of Hadrian’s and Antonine Wall.

800 AD: Viking accomplished warriors and seamen migrated from Norway and Denmark, settling in Scotland.  The Viking’s settled in the west as the Picts forged a new kingdom; the Kingdom of Alba.

1040 AD: Macbeth ruled Scotland, and a fictious tale by William Shakespeare written in Tudor Times, kept the tale alive for centuries.  Macbeth, the King of Alba ruled from 1040-1057.

1100 AD: In the 12th century, the Kingdom of Alba grew, becoming a feudal society. Peace was achieved through the “Treaty of Falaise,” signed by William I.  During the reigns of Alexander II & III much land was turned over to agriculture, trade on the continent grew, monasteries and abbeys flourished.

1297 AD: Succession crisis brought unrest across Scotland, following the death of Alexander III.  England’s monarch, Edward I believed he should be recognised as overlord of Scotland, as his troops marched north. Edward planned to cross the River forth at Stirling Bridge, but were pushed back by William Wallace.

1306 AD: Robert the Bruce was crowned King, amidst times of unrest.  In 1314, Robert the Bruce defeated Edward II at the “Battle of Bannockburn.”

1320 AD: The “Declaration of Arbroath” proclaimed Scotland’s status as an independent state, which was sent to the Pope John XXII, who gave his seal of approval.

1450 AD: The cultural intellectual and artistic movement took hold across Europe which brought changes to Scotland.  Education, intellectual life, literature, art, music, architecture, and politics advanced in the late 15th century.

1542 AD: In 1542 Mary is crowned Queen of the Scots at the tender age of nine months.  Her reign was marked by civil unrest during the Rough Wooing and conflict between the Catholics and Protestants during the Reformation.  Worried Mary would try to launch a Catholic plot against her, Elizabeth I imprisoned Mary in England until her execution in 1597.

1603 AD: James VI succeeded to the throne at just 13 months after Mary was forced to abdicate.  When Elizabeth I died with no heir, James VI succeeded to the English throne and became King James VI & James I, a historic move that’s now known as the “Union of the Crowns.”

1707 AD: The Act of Union brought Scotland even closer to Britain by creating a single Parliament of the United Kingdom at the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament).

1746AD: The “Battle of Culloden” in 1746 was the final Jacobite rising and the last battle fought on British soil.  The Jacobites were no match for the Hanoverian army – the battle lasted barely an hour and the army had been crushed.

1746 AD: Shortly after the defeat of the Jacobites at Culloden, a period known as the Highland Clearances began.  A number of laws were introduced in an attempt to assimilate the Highlanders; speaking Gaelic and wearing traditional attire was banned, and clan chiefs had their rights of jurisdiction removed.

1750 AD: The Age of Enlightment shaped the modern world.  The intellectual movement sought to understand the natural world and the human mind and ranged across philosophy, chemistry, geology, engineering, technology, poetry, medicine, economics and history.

1800 AD: Industrial advances and wealth accumulated from the trade of tobacco, sugar and cotton which brought about the dawn of urban Scotland at the turn of the 19th century.  The country shifted from rural to urban, and huge towns, large factories and heavy industry took hold.  Mining, shipbuilding and textiles became an important part of Scotland’s development.

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Scotland: The Jacobite Rebellion

King James II

King James II

The Jacobites  were supporters of the exiled royal house of the Stuart. The Jacobites took their name from Jacobus.  James II had been deprived of his throne in 1688.

In 1689 supporters of James II led by Viscount Dundee defeated a Protestant Covenanter army at the Battle of Killiekrankie.

In 1690 William of Orange defeats James II and his Jacobite supporters at the Battle of Boyne in Ireland.

In 1691, William of Orange offers a pardon to all Jacobites in the Scottish highlands who swear an allegiance to him by the end of the year.

In the January of 1692, King William II issues an order of displine against the Highland Scots.  In the February, the MacDonald chief was late in taking his oath to King William, and members of the Campbell clan killed 38 MacDonald’s at Glencoe.

In June of 1701, the Act of Settlement was passed by Parliament, which stated if William III and Princess/Queen Anne died without heirs, succession would pass to Sophia of Hanover, granddaughter of James I, and her heirs.

King James III

King James III

James II dies, succeeded by his son James III (The Old Pretender).

In 1708 a French naval squadron unsuccessfully attempted to land the Old Pretender on the Firth of Forth near Edinburgh.

With the accession of King George I of England, a Jacobite rebellion started in Braemar on the 6th September 1715 in Scotland.  The Scottish Jacobites were defeated at the Battle of Sheriffmuir on the 13th November.  On the 14th November English and Scottish Jacobites were defeated near Preston.  On the 22nd December the Old Pretender lands at Peterhead, joining up with fellow Jacobites at Perth, before returning to France on the 4th February 1716.

In 1743 war broke out between England and France. France was a Catholic country, and had always supported the Stuarts’ claim to the English throne.

King Louis XV informed the fifty-seven year old James Edward Stuart in 1745 that if he was to invade England he would supply him with arms and ammunition. James was not keen on becoming involved in another military campaign. However, his son Charles Stuart was keen to stand in for his father, and so it was, that on 5 July he left France with 700 men.

Once in Scotland, Charles Stuart; Bonnie Prince Charlie, began building up his army. He was especially successful at persuading Catholics living in the Scottish Highlands to join him. In September, Charles was ready to take action. His first move was to capture Holyrood, the ancient palace of Scottish kings. The English army arrived soon afterwards but Charles’ army had an easy victory at the battle of Prestonpans. Charles’ 5,000 man army now marched into England and by December had reached Derby.

Charles had hoped that English Catholics would join his army. This did not happen. In fact, in many of the towns that he marched through, the crowds showed great hostility to Charles’ army. Louis XV had promised Charles that 12,000 French soldiers would invade England in the autumn of 1745. However, Louis XV did not keep his promise. Although Charles still wanted to march on London, his military advisers argued that without the support of the French they were certain to be beaten. Reluctantly, Charles agreed to return to Scotland.

On the 18th February 1746, Jacobite forces capture Inverness.

A government army, led by the Prince William, the Duke of Cumberland, followed Charles back into Scotland. Completely outnumbered, Charles’s army was chased into the Scottish Highlands.

NPG 5517; Prince Charles Edward Stuart by Louis Gabriel Blanchet

Bonnie Prince Charlie

In April 1746, Charles Stuart; Bonnie Prince Charlie decided to turn and fight the English army, and met at Culloden Moor on 16 April. Cumberland’s army destroyed the Jacobites and Charles was forced to flee from the battlefield.

A reward of £30,000 was offered for his capture, but Charles still had many loyal supporters who were willing to hide him, until he could be smuggled back to France.

George II gave the Duke of Cumberland instructions that the Scots had to be punished for supporting Charles. Many of those who had joined Charles’ army were executed and their land was given to those who had remained loyal to George II. Scotsmen were also banned from wearing kilts and playing bagpipes.

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Mary Queen of Scots

NPG 1766,Mary, Queen of Scots,by Unknown artist

Mary Queen of Scots

Mary, Queen of Scots was born at Linlithgow Palace on the 8th December 1542, to parents King James V and Marie de Guise.

James V had been defeated at the “Battle of Solway Moss” by English forces commanded by Oliver Sinclair.  James chose to retire to his hunting lodge at Falkland Palace in Fife out of disgrace, and on the 14th December he died.

Henry VIII, called off the war against Scotland, and sought to negotiate a marriage between Mary and Prince Edward VI heir apparent to the English throne, then aged five.

The Regent of Scotland, The Earl of Arran was in favour of the marriage, and so the Treaty of Greenwich was entered into, thus Mary and Edward were betrothed to each other.  However, opposing factions saw it as a threat to Scottish nationality and their Catholic religion.  Pressure was brought to bear on the Earl of Arran, to withdraw from the treaty, and seek an alliance with France.

On the 9th December 1543, Mary was crowned Mary, Queen of Scots at Stirling castle.

In 1558, Mary married Francis the dauphin of France at Notre Dame in Paris, and on the 10th July 1559, Mary ascends to Queen Consort of France, when her husband becomes King Francis II of France.

Many in England feared this marriage could have long term consequences.  For Mary was now queen Consort of France, Queen of Scotland, and declared herself as the true Queen of England, whilst her husband became King Consort of Scotland and King of France, this royal alliance had united French and Scottish crowns.

On the 5th December 1560, Mary’s husband King Francis II of France died.

In 1560, Mass performed in Latin became illegal, according to the law laid down by the Scottish Parliament, as the Protestant faith, spread across much of Scotland.

Mary, Queen of Scots found herself a widow at eighteen, and returned to her homeland of Scotland in 1561, to take up her position as Queen of Scotland.  She a Catholic, in a predominately Protestant country, forced into accepting her Scotland was now led by a Protestant Government.

In 1565, Mary marries Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, her cousin, believing upon the death of Elizabeth I; with him on her side, any claim to the English throne would be increased.  They married at Mary’s private chapel in Holyrood House on the 29th July.  The marriage was a failure, for Darnley wanted to be joint ruler with Mary.

Mary appointed one David Riccio an Italian as her personal secretary, and on the 9th March 1566, Darnley burst into her chambers at Holyrood House with fellow conspirators in a jealous rage, and murdered Riccio.

On the 19th June 1566, Mary gave birth to a son; James at Edinburgh Castle, who would grow up to become King James VI of Scotland, and baptised on the 12th December at Stirling Castle.

Early in 1567, Darnley was known to be plotting against Mary’s life.  Then on the 9th February Stuart Darnley, the King of Scotland was strangled to death in the grounds of Kirk O’Fields, following an explosion.  Then in the May, the Earl of Bothwell believed to be behind the murder marries Mary, Queen of Scots.

On the 15th June 1567, Protestant Lords confronted Mary at Carberry Hill, near Edinburgh, where she surrendered and was imprisoned at Lochleven Castle.  Pressure was brought to bear, forcing her to abdicate in favour of her infant son; James.

Mary escaped in 1568, defeated in the “Battle of Langside” on the 13th May, and fled south, crossing the border into England, expecting Elizabeth to support her … how wrong she was.

Mary found herself a prisoner, first at Carlisle Castle, then Bolton Castle.

In October of 1586, Mary found herself on trial for treason against the life of Elizabeth, through correspondence with Anthony Babington.  On the 25th October she was found guilty of the charges and sentenced to death.

Mary Queen of Scots Execution

Execution of Mary Queen of Scots by Dutch Artist

On the 8th February 1587, Mary Queen of Scots, she who sought help from Elizabeth and England, a conspirator against the life of Elizabeth, lost her own life to the executioner… at Fotheringhay Castle, and was buried first at Peterborough Cathedral, then in 1612 moved to Westminster Abbey.

Images:
Mary Queen of Scots: Wikipedia
Execution of Mary Queen of Scots: National Portrait Gallery