Mary Queen of Scots Timeline 1542-1587

Mary Queen of Scots

Born – 8th December 1542
Died – Executed 8th February 1587
FatherKing James V of Scotland (1512 – 1542)
MotherMary of Guise (1515 – 1560)
Spouses – m. 1558 – Francis II of France (1544 – 1560), m. 1565 – Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley (1545 – 1567), m. 1567 – James Hepburn Earl of Bothwell (1534 – 1578)
Children – by Henry Stuart – King James I and VI (1566 – 1625)
Queen of Scotland – 1561 – 1570
PredecessorJames V – 1513 – 1542
SuccessorJames VI 1567 – 1625


1542 (8th December)
Mary Queen of Scots was born to James V of Scotland and Mary of Guise at Linlithgow Palace, Scotland.
1542 (14th December)
Mary became Queen of Scotland after her father, James V of Scotland, died less than a month after being defeated at the Battle of Solway Moss by the English.
1542 (after 14th December)
James Hamilton, Earl of Arran, great-grandson of James II, was nominated as regent for the infant queen.
1543 (1st July)
Treaty of Greenwich
This treaty between Scotland and England was sealed with an agreement that Prince Edward of England would marry Mary when they came of age.
1543 (27th July)
Mary and her mother were taken to Stirling Castle which was inland. There were concerns that Mary could be taken overseas.
1543 (9th September)
Mary was crowned Queen of Scotland at the Chapel Royal in Stirling Castle. The ceremony was performed by Cardinal David Beaton.
1543 (December)
The Earl of Arran renounced the Treaty of Greenwich. Henry VIII was unhappy with Scotland’s rejection of the treaty and began making a series of attacks on Scotland to force Scotland to agree to the marriage of Mary to Edward. This aggressive treatment of Scotland is often known as the ‘Rough Wooing’.
1544 (May)
Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford, raided Edinburgh. Mary was moved to Dunkeld for her own safety.
1546 (1st March)
Catholic Cardinal Beaton ordered the arrest and execution of the Protestant reformer George Wishart. Wishart was burnt at the stake.
1546 (29th May)
Cardinal Beaton was assassinated by the Protestant supporters of George Wishart who whad been executed on Beaton’s orders.
1547 (28th January)
Henry VIII, King of England died. He was succeeded by his son Edward. However, Edward was still a minor so his uncle Edward Seymour acted as regent. Seymour continued to press for Scotland to adhere to the terms of the Treaty of Greenwich and allow the marriage of Edward to Mary.
1547 (9th September)
Battle of Pinkie
The Scots were defeated by the English. Mary was moved to Inchmahome Priory for her own safety.
1548 (February)
Mary was moved to Dumbarton Castle.
1548 (23rd February)
The English took the town of Haddington.
1548 (late February)
Siege of Haddington
The Scots placed the English at Haddington under siege.
1548 (7th July)
Treaty of Haddington
This treaty between Scotland and France agreed that France would provide military aid to Scotland against any English attack. The treaty also agreed that Mary would marry the French King’s son, Francis, heir to the French throne.
1548 (7th August)
Mary’s mother, worried that the English would force Mary to marry King Edward of England, sent Mary to France to live with the French royal family. She set sail from Dumbarton, accompanied by an entourage of trusted companions.
1548 (14th August)
Mary landed in Brittany The King of France, Henri II was enchanted by Mary but his wife, Catherine de Medici resented her presence.
1548 (Autumn)
Mary began her education in France. She was taught music, dancing, poetry, needlework, falconry and also French, Latin, Italian, Spanish and Greek.
1554 (12th April)
Mary’s mother, Mary of Guise, with the help of French troops, managed to take the regency from James Hamilton, Earl of Arran.
1558 (4th April)
Prior to her marriage to Francis, Mary signed a secret agreement with Henri II, that if she died without an heir Scotland and her claim to the English crown would pass to France.
1558 (24th April)
Mary married Francis, heir to the French throne at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
1558 (17th November)
Queen Mary I of England died and was succeeded by her half-sister, Elizabeth who was a Protestant. Many Catholics believed that Elizabeth was illegitimate and that Mary, as the legitimate granddaughter of Henry VIII’s sister Margaret, was the rightful Queen of England. Henri II of France proclaimed that his son Francis and Mary were the rightful King and Queen of England.
1559 (3rd April)
Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis
This treaty, signed by France and Spain, ended the fighting between the two countries over Italy.
1559 (June)
Mary’s father-in-law, King Henri II of France, was fatally wounded during a tournament held to celebrate the Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis.
1559 (10th July)
King Henri II of France died. Mary became Queen of France after her husband Francis, succeeded his father to become King Francis II of France.
1560 (during)
Elizabeth sent troops to Scotland to help Protestants make Protestantism the religion of Scotland.
1560 (March)
A Protestant Huguenot uprising in France meant that French troops could no longer be sent to Scotland to support Mary’s mother, Mary of Guise maintain Catholicism in Scotland.
1560 (11th June)
Mary’s mother, Mary of Guise, regent of Scotland, died at Edinburgh Castle.
1560 (6th July)
Treaty of Edinburgh
This was a treaty between England, Scotland and France. It was agreed that the English and French would remove their troops from Scotland.
1560 (5th December)
Mary’s husband, King Francis II of France died. Mary did not want to remain in France where the court was dominated by her mother-in-law, Catherine de Medici, who was now regent for the young King Charles IX, so decided to return to Scotland.
1561 (during)
Mary met with Catholic and Protestant representatives from Scotland. She decided to follow the advice of her Protestant half-brother, James Stewart, and not try to change Scotland to Catholicism.
1561 (February)
Mary met Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley for the first time in France where he had come to pay his respects for the loss of Mary’s husband.
1561 (14th August)
Mary left France and sailed to Scotland.
1561 (19th August)
Mary landed at Leith. She was welcomed by her half-brother, James Stuart who advised her to take a moderate stance with regard to religion.
1561 (2nd September)
Mary made her official entry to Edinburgh the capital of Scotland.
1562 (Summer)
Negotiations were underway for a meeting between Mary and her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I of England but were abandoned when English troops were sent to France to take Le Havre.
1563 (during)
Mary was considering marrying the heir to the Spainsh throne, Don Carlos, but the plans were abandoned after Don Carlos suffered brain damage after falling down some stairs.
1565 (17th February)
Mary met her cousin Henry Stuart, for the second time and determined to marry him.
1565 (28th July)
It was proclaimed that after her marriage the rule of Scotland would be headed by the King and Queen of the Scots. This showed that it was Mary’s intention to give Darnley the rights of a King.
1565 (29th July)
Mary married her cousin, the Catholic Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, in the Chapel Royal of Holyrood House.
1565 (30th July)
Mary’s announcement that her husband would be King of Scotland did not go down well with her ministers. They had not given consent for Darnley to be King and were furious with Mary.
1565 (26th August)
Mary’s half-brother, James Stuart, Earl of Moray, was not happy with Mary’s marriage to her Catholic cousin and raised a rebellion against her. Mary managed to put the rebellion down.
1565 (October)
Mary’s half-brother, James Stuart, Earl of Moray, left Scotland and sought refuge in England.
1565 (October)
Mary became pregnant.
1565 (late October)
Mary’s husband was angry when she refused to grant him the right to inherit the Scottish throne if she died without an heir (the Crown Matrimonial).
1565 (late)
Mary was very unhappy in her marriage. She had quickly realised that Darnley was a lazy womaniser and began to spend more time with her Italian secretary David Rizzio.
1566 (early)
Protestant lords in Scotland were concerned that Mary was spending too much time with Rizzio and were worried that he was a Catholic influence on her.
1566 (9th March)
A group of Protestant lords entered Mary’s apartments at Holyrood Palace and murdered Rizzio in front of her.
1566 (after 9th March)
Darnley hoped that the murder of Rizzio would force Mary to grant him the Crown Matrimonial. Mary refused to back down and, six months pregnant, removed herself from her husband and took up residence in Edinburgh Castle.
1566 (19th June)
Mary gave birth to a son, James, at Edinburgh Castle.
1566 (Autumn)
Mary was determined to divorce her husband Lord Darnley.
1566 (October)
Mary was taken very ill and at one point was thought to be dying but she recovered.
1566 (late)
Mary had become close to James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, who promised to help her be free of Darnley.
1566 (December)
Mary’s husband, Lord Darnley, who had been taken ill with a fever, feared for his life and went to stay with his father in Glasgow.
1567 (January)
Mary asked Darnley to return to Edinburgh. He complied and moved into a house at Kirk o’ Field where Mary visited him regularly.
1567 (9th February)
Mary visited Darnley as usual before attending a wedding celebration.
1567 (10th February)
In the early hours of the morning, Darnley’s house was blwon up. Darnley was found in the grounds of the property and it appeared he had been suffocated. It was believed that Bothwell was behind the murder but Mary was also incriminated.
1567 (12th April)
Bothwell was acquitted of the murder of Mary’s husband, Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley
1567 (around 22nd April)
Mary visited her son, James. It was the last time she saw him.
1567 (24th April)
Mary was either abducted by Bothwell or went with him of her own free will to Dunbar Castle.
1567 (3rd May)
James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, divorced his wife.
1567 (6th May)
Mary and Bothwell returned to Edinburgh.
1567 (15th May)
Mary Queen of Scots married James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, the man behind her husband’s murder. The marriage shocked people including Scottish councillors who now believed that she may have been party to Darnley’s murder.
1567 (after 15th May)
Mary’s marriage to Bothwell had left her opposed by the majority of the lords who raised an army against her.
1567 (15th June)
Mary, who was pregnant, surrendered to the Scottish lords at Carberry Hill after many of her troops deserted her. She was taken to Edinburgh.
1567 (16th June)
Mary was imprisoned in Loch Leven Castle.
1567 (around 22nd July)
Mary miscarried twins.
1567 (24th July)
Mary Queen of Scots was forced to abdicate the throne in favour of her infant son who became King James VI of Scotland. Mary’s half-brother, Earl of Moray, was regent. Mary remained imprisoned in Loch Leven Castle and her son was taken to Stirling Castle to be raised as a Protestant away from his mother’s Catholic influence.
1568 (2nd May)
Mary escaped Loch Leven Castle with the help of the owner of the castle, George Douglas. She began to rally troops loyal to herself.
1568 (13th May)
Battle of Langside
Mary’s army of around 6,000 men, was beaten by Moray’s smaller force of Scottish Protestants. Mary fled the field and spent the night at Dundrennan Abbey.
1568 (16th May)
Mary crossed the Solway Firth into England where she sought the protection of Queen Elizabeth I. She was taken to Wokington Hall.
1568 (18th May)
Mary was escorted to Carlisle Castle where she was placed under virtual house arrest.
1568 (mid July)
Mary was moved to Bolton Castle which was further from the Scottish border. Elizabeth I had ordered an inquiry to determine whether she had played a part in Darnley’s murder. The inquiry was held at York.
1568 (October)
Mary was keen to meet her cousin, Queen Elizabeth, face to face, but Elizabeth delayed the meeting wanting clear proof that Mary had played no part in Darnley’s murder before agreeing to the meeting.
1568 (late October)
Mary’s half-brother, Earl of Moray, gave a number of letters and documents known as the casket letters to the inquiry at York as evidence against Mary. Mary argued that they had been forged but it has never been proved whether they were genuine or not. However, the commissioners of the inquiry believed them to be genuine.
1569 (January)
Elizabeth I decided that as the inquiry believed Mary to be guilty of Darnley’s murder that she would not meet her cousin in person. Elizabeth was also very worried that Mary would try to take the English throne.
1569 (February)
Mary was moved to Tutbury Castle, owned by George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury and Bess of Hardwick, Countess of Shrewsbury, and placed under house arrest. Shrewsbury was lenient with Mary and allowed her to have a retinue of her trusted friends with her.
1569 (May)
Elizabeth I negotiated with the Scots to effect Mary’s return to Scotland but it became clear that they did not want her to return.
1569 (Autumn)
Northern Uprising
A number of northern Catholic nobles mounted a rebellion against the rule of Elizabeth I. They wanted to replace her with Mary Queen of Scots. However, the uprising failed when it was discovered that Mary had been moved to Coventry. More than 750 people were executed for their part in the rebellion.
1570 (23rd January)
Mary’s half-brother, James Stuart, Earl of Moray, was assassinated.
1570 (Spring)
Elizabeth I was increasingly concerned about the threat Mary posed. Her chief ministers, Francis Walsingham and William Cecil placed spies in Mary’s household.
1571 (Summer)
Ridolfi Plot
This was a plot to depose Elizabeth and replace her with Mary Qyueen of Scots. It was led by Roberto Ridolfi, a Florentine banker from London, who had enlisted the support of the Duke of Norfolk, the King of Spain and the Pope. The plot failed after incriminating letters were discovered. The Duke of Norfolk was arrested and executed. Ridolfi was abroad when the plot was discovered and avoided capture.
1583 (during)
Throckmorton Plot
This was a plot hatched by Francis Throckmorton, to murder Elizabeth I and replace her with Mary Queen of Scots. The plot failed after his actions were discovered by Francis Walsingham.
1584 (during)
Bond of Association
This was a document drawn up by Walsingham that meant anyone attempting to take the throne from Elizabeth or make an attempt on her life would be executed.
1585 (February)
William Parry was convicted of plotting to assassinate Elizabeth.
1585 (December)
Mary was moved to the moated manor house at Chartley which was more secure. Her custodian was Amias Paulet, who kept Mary under stricter control than the Earl of Shrewsbury.
1586 (July)
The Babington Plot
Francis Walsingham uncovered a new plot to replace Elizabeth with Mary Queen of Scots. Anthony Babington had sent secret coded letters to Mary Queen of Scots organising her escape from imprisonment and her overthrow of Elizabeth as Queen.
1586 (11th August)
Mary was arrested and charged with being a party to the Babington Plot.
1586 (21st September)
Mary was moved to Fotheringhay Castle.
1586 (15th October)
Mary Queen of Scots was put on trial for her part in the Babington Plot. She was found guilty and sentenced to death. However, Elizabeth, who feared reprisals from Europe, did not sign the death warrant.
1587 (8th February)
Elizabeth had finally been persuaded by her ministers to sign the death warrant. They decided to act on it promptly before Elizabeth could change her mind and Mary Queen of Scots was executed at Fotheringhay Castle. When Elizabeth found out about the execution she was deeply upset and annoyed with her ministers. She claimed that although she had signed the warrant she had told her ministers not to carry it out.
1587 (late July)
Mary was buried at Peterborough Cathedral.
1612 (during)
Mary’s body was removed from Peterborough Cathedral and reinterred in Westminster Abbey.


Published Jun 24, 2018 @ 7:50 pm – Updated – [last-modified]

Harvard Reference for this page::

Heather Y Wheeler. (2018 – 2019). Mary Queen of Scots 1542 – 1587. Last accessed [date]

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