Monday, February 8, 2010

Beheading at Fotherinhay Castle

On February 8, 1587, Mary Queen of Scots was executed for treason; attempting to assassinate Queen Elizabeth of England.  Mary was the daughter of James V, becoming heir to the throne when an infant.  She married Francis II of France at age 16.  Scott covers her imprisonment at Lochleven Castle, and subsequent flight to England in "The Abbot".  A fuller discussion of her life, and her brave comportment during her ultimate execution, is contained in "Tales of a Grandfather".

"...When the Queen was seated in the fatal chair, she heard the death warrant read by Beale...She implored the mercy of Heaven, after the form prescribed by her own church.  She then prepared herself for execution, taking off such parts of her dress as might interfere with the deadly blow...She quietly chid her maids, who were unable to withhold their cries of lamentation, and reminded them she had engaged for their silence.  Last of all, Mary laid her head on the block, which the executioner severed from her body with two strokes of his axe..."

The image of the mound on which Fotheringhay Castle stood is courtesy of the Marie Stuart Society.  The plaque on the fence is a memorial to Mary Stuart.

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