I’m Back!

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After a holiday hiatus I’m back! There will be some changes to the blog. I’ve been posting here for eight years and the vast majority of the posts have been biographical as I post on either the birth of death of a royal person. I’ve also done some special topics. After eight years I’ve covered the birth or death anniversaries of so many prominent royals that I’m starting to repeat myself!

Therefore I’d like to change this blog to where I’m focusing on more topical issues. For example, an early blog post was about my favorite Monarchs. I mostly included some biographical information but never delved deeper into why they were my favorite and what I found fascinating about them. I will be revisiting that topic more in-depth.

I have noticed on this blog’s corresponding Facebook page (European Royal History) that I get many more views when I write about current royal families. I’d like to include more posts about current royal families however what I don’t want this to turn into a gossip site. I’d like to stick with history and not turn royals into celebrities with salacious gossip.

I’d like to thank my many readers for your support and loyalty and my desire is to continue to provide for you interesting and quality writing on the History of European Royal History!

Sincerely

Liam Foley

replica by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, oil on canvas, 1867 (1859)

December 18, 1290: Death of King Magnus III of Sweden.

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Magnus III (ca. 1240 – 18 December 1290) was King of Sweden from 1275 until his death in 1290.

Name
He was the “first Magnus” to rule Sweden for any length of time, not generally regarded as a usurper or a pretender (but third Magnus to have been proclaimed Sweden’s king and ruled there). Later historians ascribe his epithet “Ladulås” – Barnlock – to a royal decree of 1279 or 1280 freeing the yeomanry from the duty to provide sustenance for travelling nobles and bishops (“Peasants! Lock your barns!”); another theory is that it’s a corruption of Ladislaus, which could possibly have been his second name, considering his Slavic heritage. This king has also been referred to as Magnus I, but that is not recognized by any Swedish historians today.

Magnus III Barnlock of Sweden effigy by Lucas van der Werdt in 1574

Early life
Magnus, whose birth year has never been confirmed in modern times, was probably the second son of Birger Jarl (1200–66) and Princess Ingeborg, herself the sister of the childless King Eric XI and daughter of King Eric X. Thus, Valdemar Birgersson (1239–1302) was the eldest son and ruled as Valdemar, King of Sweden from 1250-1275, succeeding King Eric, their maternal uncle who ruled until 1250. Birger Jarl had designated Magnus as Jarl, henceforth titled Duke of Sweden, and as Valdemar’s successor. Even after Valdemar’s coming of age in 1257, Birger Jarl kept his grip over the country. After Birger’s death in 1266 Valdemar came into conflict with Magnus who wanted the throne for himself.

Accession and marriage
In 1275, Duke Magnus started a rebellion against his brother with Danish help, and ousted him from the throne. Valdemar was deposed by Magnus after the Battle of Hova in the forest of Tiveden on June 14, 1275. Magnus was elected king at the Stones of Mora (Mora stenar). In 1276, Magnus allegedly married a second wife Helwig, daughter of Gerard I of Holstein. Through her mother, Elizabeth of Mecklenburg, Helwig was a descendant of Christina, the putative daughter of King Sverker II. A papal annulment of Magnus’ alleged first marriage and a dispensation for the second (necessary because of consanguinity) were issued ten years later, in 1286. Haelwig later acted as regent, probably 1290–1302 and 1320–1327.

Reign
The deposed King Valdemar managed, with Danish help in turn, to regain provinces in Gothenland in the southern part of the kingdom, and Magnus had to recognize that in 1277. However, Magnus regained them about 1278 and assumed the additional title rex Gothorum, King of the Goths, starting the tradition of “King of the Swedes and the Goths”.

King Magnus’s youngest brother, Benedict (1254-1291), then archdeacon, acted as his Lord High Chancellor of Sweden, and in 1284 Magnus rewarded him with the Duchy of Finland.

Magnus died when his sons were yet underage. Magnus ordered his kinsman Thurchetel Canuteson, the Lord High Constable of Sweden as the guardian of his heir, the future King Birger, who was about ten years old at father’s death

December 17, 942: Assassination of William I Longsword of Normandy.

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William Longsword (c. 893 – December 17, 942) was the second ruler of Normandy, from 927 until his assassination in 942.

He is sometimes anachronistically dubbed “Duke of Normandy”, even though the title duke (dux) did not come into common usage until the 11th century.

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Longsword was known at the time as count (Latin comes) of Rouen. Flodoard—always detailed about titles—consistently referred to both Rollo and his son William as principes (chieftains) of the Norse.

Birth

William I Longsword was born “overseas” to the Viking Rollo (while he was still a pagan) and his Christian wife Poppa of Bayeux. Dudo of Saint-Quentin in his panegyric of the Norman dukes describes Poppa as the daughter of a Count Berengar, the dominant prince of that region.

In the 11th-century Annales Rouennaises (Annals of Rouen), she is called the daughter of Guy, Count of Senlis, otherwise unknown to history. Despite the uncertainty of her parentage she was undoubtedly a member of the Frankish aristocracy. According to the Longsword’s planctus, he was baptized a Christian probably at the same time as his father, which Orderic Vitalis stated was in 912, by Franco, Archbishop of Rouen.

Life

William succeeded Rollo (who would continue to live for about another 5 years) in 927 and, early in his reign, faced a rebellion from Normans who felt he had become too Gallicised. According to Orderic Vitalis, the leader was Riouf of Evreux, who besieged William in Rouen. Sallying forth, William won a decisive battle, proving his authority to be duke. At the time of this 933 rebellion William sent his pregnant wife by custom, Sprota, to Fécamp where their son Richard was born.

In 933 William recognized Raoul as King of Western Francia, who was struggling to assert his authority in Northern France. In turn, Raoul gave him lordship over much of the lands of the Bretons including Avranches, the Cotentin Peninsula and the Channel Islands.

The Bretons did not agree to these changes and resistance to the Normans was led by Alan II, Duke of Brittany, and Count Berenger of Rennes but ended shortly with great slaughter and Breton castles being razed to the ground, Alan fled to England and Beranger sought reconciliation.

In 935, William married Luitgarde, daughter of Count Herbert II of Vermandois whose dowry gave him the lands of Longueville, Coudres and Illiers l’Eveque. He also contracted a marriage between his sister Adela (Gerloc was her Norse name) and William, Count of Poitou, with the approval of Hugh the Great. In addition to supporting King Raoul, he was now a loyal ally of his father-in-law, Herbert II, both of whom his father Rollo had opposed.

In January 936 King Raoul died and the 16-year-old Louis IV, who was living in exile in England, was persuaded by a promise of loyalty by William, to return and became king. The Bretons returned to recover the lands taken by the Normans, resulting in fighting in the expanded Norman lands.

The new king was not capable of controlling his Barons and after William’s brother-in-law, Herluin II, Count of Montreuil, was attacked by Flanders, William went to their assistance in 939,:28–9 Arnulf I, Count of Flanders retaliated by attacking Normandy. Arnulf captured the castle of Montreuil-sur-Mer expelling Herluin. Herluin and William cooperated to retake the castle.

William was excommunicated for his actions in attacking and destroying several estates belonging to Arnulf. William pledged his loyalty to King Louis IV when they met in 940 and, in return, he was confirmed in lands that had been given to his father, Rollo.

In 941 a peace treaty was signed between the Bretons and Normans, brokered in Rouen by King Louis IV which limited the Norman expansion into Breton lands.:liii The following year, on 17 December 942 at Picquigny on an island on the Somme, William was ambushed and killed by followers of Arnulf of Flanders while at a peace conference to settle their differences.

Family

William had no children with his wife Luitgarde. He fathered his son, Richard, with Sprota. who was a Breton captive and his concubine. Richard, then aged 10, succeeded as Ruler of Normandy upon William’s death in December 942.

December 15, 1960: Marriage of the King of the Belgians.

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On this day 60 years ago:

King Baudouin of the Belgians (1930-1993) marries Spanish aristocrat Doña Fabiola de Mora y Aragón (1928-2014)

Doña Fabiola de Mora y Aragón was born in Madrid, Spain, at the Palacio Zurbano, the main residence of the Marqués de Casa Riera. She was the daughter of Don Gonzalo de Mora y Fernández y Riera y del Olmo, 4th Marqués de Casa Riera, 2nd Count of Mora (1887–1957), and his wife, Doña Blanca de Aragón y Carrillo de Albornoz y Barroeta-Aldamar y Elío (1892–1981), daughter of the 6th Marchioness of Casa Torres and Viscountess of Baiguer. Her godmother was Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain.

On December 15, 1960, Fabiola married Baudouin, who had been King of the Belgians since the abdication of his father, Leopold III, in 1951. At the marriage ceremony in the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula, she wore a 1926 Art Deco tiara that had been a gift of the Belgian state to her husband’s mother, Astrid of Sweden, upon her marriage to Leopold III.

Her dress of satin and ermine was designed by the couturier Cristóbal Balenciaga. Fabiola was a hospital nurse at the time of her engagement; TIME magazine, in its 26 September 1960, issue, called Doña Fabiola the “Cinderella Girl” and described her as “an attractive young woman, though no raving beauty” and “the girl who could not catch a man.” On the occasion of her marriage, Spanish bakers set out to honour Fabiola and created a type of bread, “la fabiola”, which is still made in Palencia.

The explorer Guido Derom named the Queen Fabiola Mountains – a newly discovered range of Antarctic mountains – in her honour in 1961. She also has several varieties of ornamental plants named after her.

The royal couple had no children, as the Queen’s five pregnancies ended in miscarriage in 1961, 1962, 1963, 1966 and 1968. Fabiola openly spoke about her miscarriages in 2008: ‘You know, I myself lost five children. You learn something from that experience. I had problems with all my pregnancies, but you know, in the end I think life is beautiful’.

December 14, 1861: Death of Prince Albert, The Prince Consort.

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Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (Francis Albert Augustus Charles Emmanuel; August 26, 1819 – December 14, 1861) was the husband of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

Albert was born at Schloss Rosenau, near Coburg, Germany, the second son of Ernest III, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, and his first wife, Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg. Albert’s future wife, Victoria, was born earlier in the same year with the assistance of the same midwife, Charlotte von Siebold. Albert was baptised into the Lutheran Evangelical Church on 19 September 1819 in the Marble Hall at Schloss Rosenau with water taken from the local river, the Itz.

The Prince Consort by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, oil on canvas,  (1859)

His godparents were his paternal grandmother, the Dowager Duchess of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld; his maternal grandfather, the Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg; the Emperor of Austria; the Duke of Teschen; and Emanuel, Count of Mensdorff-Pouilly. In 1825, Albert’s great-uncle, Frederick IV, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, died. His death led to a realignment of the Saxon duchies the following year and Albert’s father became the first reigning duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

At the age of twenty, he married his cousin, Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. They had nine children. Initially he felt constrained by his role of prince consort, which did not afford him power or responsibilities. He gradually developed a reputation for supporting public causes, such as educational reform and the abolition of slavery worldwide, and was entrusted with running the Queen’s household, office and estates. He was heavily involved with the organisation of the Great Exhibition of 1851, which was a resounding success.

Victoria came to depend more and more on Albert’s support and guidance. He aided the development of Britain’s constitutional monarchy by persuading his wife to be less partisan in her dealings with Parliament—although he actively disagreed with the interventionist foreign policy pursued during Lord Palmerston’s tenure as Foreign Secretary.

August 1859, Albert fell seriously ill with stomach cramps. His steadily worsening medical condition led to a sense of despair. He lost the will to live, says biographer Robert Rhodes James. He had an accidental brush with death during a trip to Coburg in October 1860, when he was driving alone in a carriage drawn by four horses that suddenly bolted. As the horses continued to gallop toward a wagon waiting at a railway crossing, Albert jumped for his life from the carriage. One of the horses was killed in the collision, and Albert was badly shaken, though his only physical injuries were cuts and bruises. He confided in his brother and eldest daughter that he had sensed his time had come.

Victoria’s mother and Albert’s aunt, the Duchess of Kent, died in March 1861, and Victoria was grief-stricken. Albert took on most of the Queen’s duties, despite continuing to suffer with chronic stomach trouble. The last public event he presided over was the opening of the Royal Horticultural Gardens on 5 June 1861. In August, Victoria and Albert visited the Curragh Camp, Ireland, where the Prince of Wales was attending army manoeuvres. At the Curragh, the Prince of Wales was introduced, by his fellow officers, to Nellie Clifden, an Irish actress.

HRH The Prince Consort

By November, Victoria and Albert had returned to Windsor, and the Prince of Wales had returned to Cambridge, where he was a student. Two of Albert’s young cousins, brothers King Pedro V of Portugal and Prince Ferdinand, died of typhoid fever within five days of each other in early November. On top of this news, Albert was informed that gossip was spreading in gentlemen’s clubs and the foreign press that the Prince of Wales was still involved with Nellie Clifden.

Albert and Victoria were horrified by their son’s indiscretion, and feared blackmail, scandal or pregnancy. Although Albert was ill and at a low ebb, he travelled to Cambridge to see the Prince of Wales on 25 November to discuss his son’s indiscreet affair. In his final weeks Albert suffered from pains in his back and legs.

Also in November 1861, the Trent affair—the forcible removal of Confederate envoys from a British ship by Union forces during the American Civil War—threatened war between the United States and Britain. The British government prepared an ultimatum and readied a military response.

Albert was gravely ill but intervened to defuse the crisis. In a few hours, he revised the British demands in a manner that allowed the Lincoln administration to surrender the Confederate commissioners who had been seized from the Trent and to issue a public apology to London without losing face. The key idea, based on a suggestion from The Times, was to give Washington the opportunity to deny it had officially authorised the seizure and thereby apologise for the captain’s mistake.

On December, 9, one of Albert’s doctors, William Jenner, diagnosed him with typhoid fever. Albert died at 10:50 p.m. on December 14, 1861 in the Blue Room at Windsor Castle, in the presence of the Queen and five of their nine children. The contemporary diagnosis was typhoid fever, but modern writers have pointed out that Albert’s ongoing stomach pain, leaving him ill for at least two years before his death, may indicate that a chronic disease, such as Crohn’s disease, kidney failure, or abdominal cancer, was the cause of death.

December 14, 1895: Birthday of King George VI of the United Kingdom.

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The future George VI was born at York Cottage, on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, during the reign of his great-grandmother Queen Victoria. His father was Prince George, Duke of York (later King George V), the second and eldest surviving son of the Prince and Princess of Wales (later King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra). His mother, the Duchess of York (later Queen Mary), was the eldest child and only daughter of Francis, Duke of Teck, and Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck.

His birthday, December 14, 1895, was the 34th anniversary of the death of his great-grandfather, Albert, Prince Consort. Uncertain of how the Prince Consort’s widow, Queen Victoria, would take the news of the birth, the Prince of Wales wrote to the Duke of York that the Queen had been “rather distressed”. Two days later, he wrote again: “I really think it would gratify her if you yourself proposed the name Albert to her.”

The Queen was mollified by the proposal to name the new baby Albert, and wrote to the Duchess of York: “I am all impatience to see the new one, born on such a sad day but rather more dear to me, especially as he will be called by that dear name which is a byword for all that is great and good.” Consequently, he was baptised “Albert Frederick Arthur George” at St Mary Magdalene Church, Sandringham, three months later.

Within the family, he was known informally as “Bertie”. The Duchess of Teck did not like the first name her grandson had been given, and she wrote prophetically that she hoped the last name “may supplant the less favoured one”. Albert was fourth in line to the throne at birth, after his grandfather, father and elder brother, Edward.

He often suffered from ill health and was described as “easily frightened and somewhat prone to tears”. His parents were generally removed from their children’s day-to-day upbringing, as was the norm in aristocratic families of that era. He had a stammer that lasted for many years. Although naturally left-handed, he was forced to write with his right hand, as was common practice at the time.

Prince Albert suffered from chronic stomach problems as well as knock knees, for which he was forced to wear painful corrective splints. Queen Victoria died on January 22, 1901, and the Prince of Wales succeeded her as King Edward VII. Prince Albert moved up to third in line to the throne, after his father and elder brother.

As the second son of King George V, he was not expected to inherit the throne and spent his early life in the shadow of his elder brother, Edward. He attended naval college as a teenager and served in the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force during the First World War. In 1920, he was made Duke of York.

He married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in 1923, and they had two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret. In the mid-1920s, he had speech therapy for a stammer, which he learned to manage to some degree. George’s elder brother ascended the throne as Edward VIII after their father died in 1936. Later that year, Edward abdicated to marry the American socialite Wallis Simpson, and George became the third monarch of the House of Windsor.

In September 1939, the British Empire and Commonwealth—except Ireland—declared war on Nazi Germany. War with the Kingdom of Italy and the Empire of Japan followed in 1940 and 1941, respectively. George was seen as sharing the hardships of the common people and his popularity soared. Buckingham Palace was bombed during the Blitz while the King and Queen were there, and his younger brother, the Duke of Kent, was killed on active service. George became known as a symbol of British determination to win the war.

Britain and its allies were victorious in 1945, but the British Empire declined. Ireland had largely broken away, followed by independence of India and Pakistan in 1947. George relinquished the title of Emperor of India in June 1948 and instead adopted the new title of Head of the Commonwealth. He was beset by smoking-related health problems in the later years of his reign and died of coronary thrombosis in 1952. He was succeeded by his daughter, Elizabeth II.

Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. Conclusion

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Darnley was murdered eight months after James’ birth. On the night of 9–10 February 1567, his body and that of his valet were discovered in the orchard of Kirk o’ Field, in Edinburgh, where they had been staying.

Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley

Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley

During the weeks leading up to his death, Darnley was recovering from a bout of smallpox (or, it has been speculated, syphilis). He was described as having deformed pocks upon his face and body. He stayed with his family in Glasgow, until Mary brought him to recuperate at Old Provost’s lodging at Kirk o’ Field, a two-story house within the church quadrangle, a short walk from Holyrood, with the intention of incorporating him into the court again. Darnley stayed at Kirk o’ Field while Mary attended the wedding of Bastian Pagez, one of her closest servants, at Holyrood.

Around 2 A.M. on the night of February 9-10, 1567, while Mary was away, two explosions rocked the foundation of Kirk o’ Field. These explosions were later attributed to two barrels of gunpowder that had been placed in the small room under Darnley’s sleeping quarters. Darnley’s body and the body of his valet William Taylor were found outside, surrounded by a cloak, a dagger, a chair, and a coat. Darnley was dressed only in his nightshirt, suggesting he had fled in some haste from his bedchamber.

Darnley was apparently smothered. There were no visible marks of strangulation or violence on the body. A post-mortem revealed internal injuries, thought to have been caused by the explosion. John Knox claimed the surgeons who examined the body were lying, and that Darnley had been strangled, but all the sources agree there were no marks on the body and there was no reason for the surgeons to lie as Darnley was murdered either way.

Aftermath

Suspicion quickly fell on the James Hepburn, the 4th Earl of Bothwell and his supporters, notably Archibald Douglas, Parson of Douglas, whose shoes were found at the scene, and on Mary herself. Bothwell had long been suspected of having designs on the throne, and his close relationship with the queen gave rise to rumours they were sexually intimate. This was viewed as a motive for Bothwell to have Darnley murdered, with help from some of the nobility and seemingly with royal approval. Mary had been looking at options for removing Darnley, though her ideas were for divorce, and none were suitable.

Soon after Darnley’s death, Bothwell and Mary left Edinburgh together. There are two points of view about the circumstances: in the first, Bothwell kidnapped the queen, took her to Dunbar Castle, and raped her. In the second, Mary was a willing participant in the kidnapping, and the story of rape was a fabrication, so her honour and reputation were not ruined by her marriage to a man widely suspected of murder. Mary later miscarried twins by Bothwell.

Suspicions that Mary colluded with conspirators in her husband’s death or that she took no action to prevent his death were key factors in the downward spiral that led to her loss of the Scottish crown. The Casket letters, alleged to have been written by Mary, seemed to indicate her support for the killing. The letters were purportedly found by James Douglas, 4th Earl of Morton, in Edinburgh in a silver box engraved with an F (supposedly for Francis II), along with a number of other documents, including the Mary-Bothwell marriage certificate. Before Morton’s execution in 1581, he admitted having knowledge of the murder plot, and that Bothwell and Archibald Douglas were “chief actors” in Darnley’s murder.

A soldier under the pay of Bothwell, William Blackadder of the Clan Blackadder, was allegedly the first non-participant to happen upon the scene, and for that reason was treated as a suspect. Although initially cleared of any involvement in the murder, he was offered up by the conspirators and convicted at a show trial, after which he was executed by being hanged, drawn and quartered before each of his limbs was nailed to the gates of a different Scottish town.

Bothwell was put on trial in Edinburgh and found not guilty. The Earl was sent to Copenhagen, where the Danish monarch, King Frederik II, deliberated on his fate. The Earl was sent across Øresund to the fortress and prison Malmøhus Castle. But as news from both England and Scotland arrived, the King eventually understood that Mary never again would become Queen of the Scots. And without Mary, the King considered him insignificant. Bothwell was imprisoned at Dragsholm Castle, 75 kilometres west of Copenhagen. He was held in what were said to be appalling conditions. He died in April 1578. He was buried in a vault at Fårevejle church near the castle.

In 1568 Mary’s involvement in the murder was discussed in England in conferences at York and Westminster which ended with no definitive findings. Mary was kept in captivity until she was implicated in the Babington plot against Elizabeth, after which she was convicted of treason and executed.

December 7, 1545: Birth of Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. Part II.

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Soon after Mary married Darnley, she became aware of his vain, arrogant and unreliable qualities, which threatened the wellbeing of the state. Darnley was unpopular with the other nobles and had a violent streak, aggravated by his drinking. Henry also demanded the Crown Matrimonial. In Scots law, the Crown Matrimonial is a person’s right to co-reign equally with his or her spouse. Mary refused to grant Darnley the Crown Matrimonial.

Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley

The Crown Matrimonial of Scotland was sought by King François II of France, husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, by the Parliament of Scotland and Mary’s mother, Mary of Guise, who was regent of Scotland. It would make François legal co-sovereign of Scotland with Queen Mary, and would also grant Francis the right to keep the Scottish throne if he outlived her. By the terms of the offer, he would be able to pass the Scottish crown to his descendants by a wife other than Mary. The Crown of Scotland was to be sent to France, where it was supposed to be kept at the Abbey of Saint Denis. However, the offer was never realised, as the Hamilton family, who were close to the throne, joined the Protestants and opposed it.

The Protestant peers promised to make Henry sovereign by the consent of Parliament. They agreed that Henry, as the new sovereign, would pardon all the exiled Protestants and allow them to return to Scotland. However, the plan was never realised.

By August 1565, less than a month after the marriage, William Cecil heard that Darnley’s insolence had driven Lennox from the Scottish court. Mary soon became pregnant.

Mary’s private secretary, David Rizzio, was stabbed 56 times on March 9, 1566 by Darnley and his confederates, Protestant Scottish nobles, in the presence of the queen, who was six months pregnant. According to English diplomats Thomas Randolph and the Earl of Bedford, the murder of Rizzio (who was rumoured to be the father of Mary’s unborn child) was part of Darnley’s bid to force Mary to cede the Crown Matrimonial. Darnley also made a bargain with his allies to advance his claim to the Crown Matrimonial in the Parliament of Scotland in return for restoring their lands and titles.

When the Spanish Ambassador in Paris heard this news, the headlines were that Darnley “had murdered his wife, admitted the exiled heretics, and seized the kingdom.” However, on 20 March, Darnley posted a declaration denying all knowledge of or complicity in the Rizzio murder.

Mary no longer trusted her husband, and he was disgraced by the kingdom. On March 27, the Earl of Morton and Lord Ruthven, who were both present at Rizzio’s murder and had fled to England, wrote to Cecil claiming that Darnley had initiated the murder plot and recruited them, because of his “heich quarrel” and “deadly hatred” of Rizzio.

Mary and Darnley’s son James (the future King James VI of Scotland and I of England) was born on 19 June 1566 at Edinburgh Castle. He was baptised Charles James on 17 December 1566 in a Catholic ceremony held at Stirling Castle. His godparents were Charles IX of France, Elizabeth I of England and Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy.

Mary refused to let the Archbishop of St Andrews, whom she referred to as “a pocky priest”, spit in the child’s mouth, as was then the custom. In the entertainment, devised by Frenchman Bastian Pagez, men danced dressed as satyrs and sporting tails; the English guests took offence, thinking the satyrs “done against them”.

Following the birth of James, the succession was more secure, but Darnley and Mary’s marriage continued to struggle. Darnley, however, alienated many who would otherwise have been his supporters through his erratic behavior. His insistence that he be awarded the Crown Matrimonial was still a source of marital frustration.

December 7, 1545: Birth of Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. Part I.

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Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley (December 7, 1545 – February 10, 1567) was the second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots. From his marriage in 1565, he was king consort of Scotland. He was created Duke of Albany shortly before his marriage. Less than a year after the birth of his and Mary’s only child, King James VI of Scotland and I of England, Darnley was murdered at Kirk o’ Field in 1567. Many contemporary narratives describing his life and death refer to him as Lord Darnley, his title as heir apparent to the Earldom of Lennox, and it is by this appellation that he is known in history.

Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley

He was the second but eldest surviving son of Matthew Stewart, 4th Earl of Lennox, by his wife Lady Margaret Douglas. Darnley’s maternal grandparents were Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus, and Lady Margaret Tudor, daughter of King Henry VII of England and widow of King James IV of Scotland. This makes Lord Darnley a great-grandson of King Henry VII of England.

Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, was born at Temple Newsam, Leeds, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England, in 1545. However, this date is uncertain as his parents were not together in early 1545 and a letter of March 1566, from Mary Queen of Scots, indicates Darnley was then nineteen years old. Therefore, the date 1546 would seem probable. A descendant of both James II of Scotland and Henry VII of England, Darnley had potential claims to both the Scottish and English thrones.

In 1545, his father, Matthew Stewart, 4th Earl of Lennox, was found guilty of treason in Scotland for siding with the English in the War of the Rough Wooing, in opposing Mary of Guise and Regent Arran. The family’s Scottish estates were forfeited and his father went into exile in England for 22 years, returning to Scotland in 1564. The Countess of Lennox Margaret Douglas, his mother, had left Scotland in 1528.

The young Henry was conscious of his status and inheritance. Well-versed in Latin and familiar with Gaelic, English and French, he received an education befitting his royal lineage, and he excelled in singing, lute playing, and dancing. Henry was said to be strong, athletic, skilled in horsemanship and weaponry, and passionate about hunting and hawking. His youthful character is captured somewhat in a letter of March 1554 to Mary I of England from Temple Newsam, where he writes about making a map, the Utopia Nova, and his wish that “every haire in my heade for to be a wourthy souldiour”

On February 3, 1565, Darnley left London and by February 12, he was in Edinburgh. On February 17, he presented himself to Mary at Wemyss Castle in Fife. James Melville of Halhill reported that “Her Majesty took well with him, and said that he was the lustiest and best proportioned long man that she had seen.” After a brief visit to his father at Dunkeld, Darnley returned with Mary and the court to Holyrood on February 24. The next day, he heard John Knox preach, and he danced a galliard with Mary at night. From then on, he was constantly in Mary’s company.

Darnley was his wife’s half-first cousin through two different marriages of their grandmother, Margaret Tudor, putting both Mary and Darnley high in the line of succession for the English throne. Darnley was also a descendant of a daughter of James II of Scotland, and so also in line for the throne of Scotland.

As a preliminary to the marriage, Darnley was made Lord of Ardmanoch and Earl of Ross at Stirling Castle on May 15, 1565. An entourage of 15 men were made knights, including one of Mary’s half brothers, Robert Stewart of Strathdon, Robert Drummond of Carnock, James Stewart of Doune Castle, and William Murray of Tullibardine. In England, a concerned Privy council debated the perils of the intended marriage on June 4, 1565.

One of their resolutions was to relax the displeasure shown to Lady Catherine Grey, another rival to Mary Stuart for the English throne. Mary sent John Hay, Commendator of Balmerino, to speak to Elizabeth; Elizabeth demanded Darnley’s return, and gave John Hay plainly to understand her small satisfaction.

On July 22, Darnley was made Duke of Albany in Holyrood Abbey, and the banns of marriage were called in the parish of Canongate. A proclamation was made at the Cross of Edinburgh on 28 July that government would be in the joint names of the king and queen of Scots, thus giving Darnley equality with, and precedence over, Mary. This was confirmed in the circulation of a silver ryal in the names of Henry and Mary.

On July 29, 1565, the marriage took place by Roman Catholic rites in Mary’s private chapel at Holyrood, but Darnley (whose religious beliefs were unfixed – he was raised as a Catholic, but was later influenced by Protestantism) refused to accompany Mary to the nuptial Mass after the wedding itself.