History of Male British Consorts Part IX


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Anne (February 6, 1665 – August 1, 1714) was Queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland between March 8, 1702 and May 1, 1707. On May 1, 1707, under the Acts of Union, the kingdoms of England and Scotland united as a single sovereign state known as Great Britain. She continued to reign as Queen of Great Britain and Ireland until her death in 1714.

The Lady Anne was born in the reign of Charles II to his younger brother and heir presumptive, James, whose suspected Roman Catholicism was unpopular in England. On Charles’s instructions, Anne and her elder sister, Mary, were raised as Anglicans. Mary married their Dutch Protestant cousin, William III of Orange, in 1677, and Anne married Prince George of Denmark in 1683. On Charles’s death in 1685, James succeeded to the throne, but just three years later he was deposed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Mary and William became joint monarchs.

Although the sisters had been close, disagreements over Anne’s finances, status, and choice of acquaintances arose shortly after Mary’s accession and they became estranged. William III and Mary II had no children. After Mary’s death in 1694, William reigned alone until his own death in 1702, when Anne succeeded him.

George of Denmark was born in Copenhagen Castle, and was the younger son of Frederik III, King of Denmark and Norway, and Sophie Amalie of Brunswick-Lüneburg. His mother was the sister of Ernst August, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, later Elector of Hanover. Ernst August’s son, George, succeeded George of Denmark’s wife, Queen Anne, on the British throne.

In 1674, George was a candidate for the Polish elective throne, for which he was backed by King Louis XIV of France. George’s staunch Lutheranism was a barrier to election in Roman Catholic Poland, and John Sobieski was chosen instead.

In 1677, George served with distinction with his elder brother Christian in the Scanian War against Sweden. His brother was captured by the Swedes at the Battle of Landskrona, and George “cut his way through the enemies’ numbers, and rescued him at the imminent danger of his own life.”

As a Protestant, George was considered a suitable partner for the niece of King Charles II of England, Lady Anne. They were distantly related (second cousins once removed; they were both descended from King Frederik II of Denmark), and had never met. George was hosted by Charles II in London in 1669, but Anne had been in France at the time of George’s visit. Both Denmark and Britain were Protestant, and Louis XIV was keen on an Anglo-Danish alliance to contain the power of the Dutch Republic.

Anne’s uncle Laurence Hyde, 1st Earl of Rochester, and the English Secretary of State for the Northern Department, Robert Spencer, 2nd Earl of Sunderland, negotiated a marriage treaty with the Danes in secret, to prevent the plans leaking to the Dutch. Anne’s father, James, Duke of York, welcomed the marriage because it diminished the influence of his other son-in-law, Dutch Stadtholder William III of Orange, who was naturally unhappy with the match.

George and Anne were married on July 28, 1683 in the Chapel Royal at St James’s Palace, London, by Henry Compton, Bishop of London. The guests included King Charles II, Queen Catherine, and the Duke and Duchess of York. Anne was voted a parliamentary allowance of £20,000 a year, while George received £10,000 a year from his Danish estates, although payments from Denmark were often late or incomplete.

King Charles gave them a set of buildings in the Palace of Whitehall known as the Cockpit (near the site of what is now Downing Street in Westminster) as their London residence.

George was not ambitious, and hoped to live a quiet life of domesticity with his wife. He wrote to a friend: “We talk here of going to tea, of going to Winchester, and everything else except sitting still all summer, which was the height of my ambition. God send me a quiet life somewhere, for I shall not be long able to bear this perpetual motion.”

More on Prince George of Denmark tomorrow.

German Emperor Wilhelm II: Psychology and Relationships


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With yesterday being the anniversary of the death of German Emperor Friedrich III and the accession of his son, Wilhelm II, I thought i do a little character study. I find German Emperor Wilhelm II a fascinating subject to study. Historians like myself have frequently stressed the role of Wilhelm’s personality in shaping his reign. Historian Thomas Nipperdey concludes WilhelmII was :

gifted, with a quick understanding, sometimes brilliant, with a taste for the modern,—technology, industry, science—but at the same time superficial, hasty, restless, unable to relax, without any deeper level of seriousness, without any desire for hard work or drive to see things through to the end, without any sense of sobriety, for balance and boundaries, or even for reality and real problems, uncontrollable and scarcely capable of learning from experience, desperate for applause and success,—as Bismarck said early on in his life, he wanted every day to be his birthday—romantic, sentimental and theatrical, unsure and arrogant, with an immeasurably exaggerated self-confidence and desire to show off, a juvenile cadet, who never took the tone of the officers’ mess out of his voice, and brashly wanted to play the part of the supreme warlord, full of panicky fear of a monotonous life without any diversions, and yet aimless, pathological in his hatred against his English mother.

Historian David Fromkin states that Wilhelm had a love–hate relationship with Britain. According to Fromkin “From the outset, the half-German side of him was at war with the half-English side. He was wildly jealous of the British, wanting to be British, wanting to be better at being British than the British were, while at the same time hating them and resenting them because he never could be fully accepted by them”.

Langer et al. (1968) emphasise the negative international consequences of Wilhelm’s erratic personality: “He believed in force, and the ‘survival of the fittest’ in domestic as well as foreign politics … William was not lacking in intelligence, but he did lack stability, disguising his deep insecurities by swagger and tough talk. He frequently fell into depressions and hysterics … William’s personal instability was reflected in vacillations of policy. His actions, at home as well as abroad, lacked guidance, and therefore often bewildered or infuriated public opinion. He was not so much concerned with gaining specific objectives, as had been the case with Bismarck, as with asserting his will. This trait in the ruler of the leading Continental power was one of the main causes of the uneasiness prevailing in Europe at the turn-of-the-century”.

Relationships with foreign relatives

Because of Wilhelm’s personality issues it created difficult relationships amongst his foreign relatives. As a grandchild of Queen Victoria, Wilhelm was a first cousin of the future King George V of the United Kingdom, as well as of Queens Marie of Romania, Maud of Norway, Victoria Eugenie of Spain, and the Empress Alexandra of Russia. In 1889, Wilhelm’s younger sister, Sophia, married the future King Constantine I of the Hellenas (Greece). Wilhelm was infuriated by his sister’s conversion to Greek Orthodoxy; upon her marriage, that he attempted to ban her from entering Germany.

Wilhelm’s most contentious relationships were with his British relations. He craved the acceptance of his grandmother, Queen Victoria, and of the rest of her family. Despite the fact that his grandmother treated him with courtesy and tact, his other relatives found him arrogant and obnoxious, and they largely denied him acceptance. He had an especially bad relationship with his Uncle Bertie, the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII). Between 1888 and 1901 Wilhelm resented his uncle, himself a mere heir to the British throne, treating Wilhelm not as Emperor of Germany, but merely as another nephew.

In turn, Wilhelm often snubbed his uncle, whom he referred to as “the old peacock” and lorded his position as emperor over him. Beginning in the 1890s, Wilhelm made visits to England for Cowes Week on the Isle of Wight and often competed against his uncle in the yacht races. Edward’s wife, the Danish-born Alexandra, first as Princess of Wales and later as Queen, also disliked Wilhelm, never forgetting the Prussian seizure of Schleswig-Holstein from Denmark in the 1860s, as well as being annoyed over Wilhelm’s treatment of his mother.

Despite his poor relations with his English relatives, when he received news that Queen Victoria was dying at Osborne House in January 1901, Wilhelm travelled to England and was at her bedside when she died, and he remained for the funeral. He also was present at the funeral of King Edward VII in 1910.

In 1913, Wilhelm hosted a lavish wedding in Berlin for his only daughter, Victoria Louise. Among the guests at the wedding were his cousins Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and King George V, and George’s wife, Queen Mary.

June 15, 1888: Death of Friedrich III, German Emperor and King of Prussia.


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Prince Friedrich-Wilhelm of Prussia was born in the New Palace at Potsdam in Prussia on October 18, 1831. He was a scion of the House of Hohenzollern, rulers of Prussia, then the most powerful of the German states. Friedrich’s father, Prince Wilhelm (future German Emperor and King of Prussia), was a younger brother of King Friedrich-Wilhelm IV and, having been raised in the military traditions of the Hohenzollerns, developed into a strict disciplinarian.

Prince Friedrich’s mother was Princess Augusta of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, the second daughter of Charles-Friedrich, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach and Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia, a daughter of Paul I of Russia and Sophie-Dorothea of Württemberg.

In 1851, his mother sent Friedrich to England, ostensibly to visit the Great Exhibition but in truth, she hoped that the cradle of liberalism and home of the industrial revolution would have a positive influence on her son. Prince Albert took Friedrich under his wing during his stay but it was Albert’s daughter, Victoria, Princess Royal, only eleven at the time, who guided the German prince around the Exhibition.

Friedrich only knew a few words of English, while Victoria could converse fluently in German. He was impressed by her mix of innocence, intellectual curiosity and simplicity, and their meeting proved to be a success. A regular exchange of letters between Victoria and Friedrich followed.

Friedrich proposed to Victoria in 1855, when she was 14 years old and he was 23. The betrothal of the young couple was announced on May 19, 1857, at Buckingham Palace and the Prussian Court, and their marriage took place on January 25, 1858 in the Chapel Royal of St. James’s Palace, London. Victoria too had received a liberal education and shared her husband’s views. Of the two, Victoria was the dominant one in the relationship.

The couple often resided at the Crown Prince’s Palace and had eight children: Wilhelm in 1859, Charlotte in 1860, Heinrich in 1862, Sigismund in 1864, Victoria in 1866, Waldemar in 1868, Sophia in 1870 and Margaret in 1872. Sigismund died at the age of 2 and Waldemar at age 11, and their eldest son, Wilhelm, suffered from a withered arm—probably due to his difficult and dangerous breech birth, although it could have also resulted from a mild case of cerebral palsy.

When his father succeeded to the Prussian throne as King Wilhelm I of Prussia on January 2, 1861, Friedrich became the Crown Prince of Prussia.

Three days after Friedrich was confirmed to be suffering from cancer, his father Emperor Wilhelm I died aged 90 at 8:22 a.m. on March 9, 1888, upon which Friedrich became German Emperor and King of Prussia. His son, Wilhelm, now Crown Prince, telegraphed the news to his father in Italy. Later the same day, Friedrich wrote in his diary that he had received the telegram upon returning from a walk, “…and so I have ascended the throne of my forefathers and of the German Kaiser! God help me fulfill my duties conscientiously and for the weal of my Fatherland, in both the narrower and the wider sense.” Germany’s progressive elements hoped that Wilhelm’s death, and thus Friedrich’s succession, would usher the country into a new era governed along liberal lines.

Logically, Friedrich should have taken as his regnal name, Friedrich I (beccause the Bismarckian empire was considered a new entity). The new Emperor wanted to call himself Friedrich IV, (mistakenly thinking this new empire was a continuation of the old Holy Roman Empire, which had had three emperors named Friedrich). However, on the advice of Bismarck that this would create legal problems, he opted to simply keep the same regnal name he had as the king of Prussia, Friedrich III.

The new Emperor reached Berlin at 11 p.m. on the night of March 11; those who saw him were horrified by his “pitiful” appearance. The question now was how much longer the mortally ill emperor could be expected to live, and what, if anything, he could hope to achieve. In spite of his illness, Friedrich did his best to fulfill his obligations as Emperor.
Immediately after the announcement of his accession, he took the ribbon and star of his Order of the Black Eagle from his jacket and pinned it on the dress of his wife; he was determined to honor her position as Empress. Too ill to march in his father’s funeral procession, he was represented by Wilhelm, the new Crown Prince, while he watched, weeping, from his rooms in the Charlottenburg Palace.

As the German Emperor, he officially received Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom (his mother-in-law) and King Oscar II of Sweden and Norway, and attended the wedding of his son Prince Heinrich to his niece Princess Irene. However, Friedrich III reigned for only 99 days, and was unable to bring about much lasting change. The majority of the German ruling elite viewed Friedrich III’s reign as merely a brief interim period before the accession of his son Wilhelm to the throne.

An edict he penned before he ascended to the throne that would limit the powers of the chancellor and monarch under the constitution was never put into effect,although he did force Robert von Puttkamer to resign as Prussian Minister of the Interior on June 8, when evidence indicated that Puttkamer had interfered in the Reichstag elections. Dr. Mackenzie wrote that the Emperor had “an almost overwhelming sense of the duties of his position.”

A letter to Lord Napier, Empress Victoria wrote “The Emperor is able to attend to his business, and do a great deal, but not being able to speak is, of course, most trying.” Friedrich III had the fervour but not the time to accomplish his desires, lamenting in May 1888, “I cannot die … What would happen to Germany?”

From April 1888, Friedrich III became so weak he was unable to walk, and was largely confined to his bed; his continual coughing brought up large quantities of pus. In early June, the cancer spread to and perforated his esophagus, preventing him from eating. He suffered from bouts of vomiting and ran high fevers, but remained alert enough to write a last diary entry on June 11: “What’s happening to me? I must get well again; I have so much to do!”

Friedrich III died in Potsdam at 11:30 a.m. on June 15, 1888, and was succeeded by his 29-year-old son as Wilhelm II, German Emperor and King of Prussia. Under Emperor Wilhelm II, his parents and maternal grandparents, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s hopes of a liberal Germany were not fulfilled. He believed in the autocracy and Conservative principles of his paternal grandfather, Emperor Wilhelm I.

Frederick is buried in a mausoleum attached to the Friedenskirche in Potsdam. After his death, William Ewart Gladstone described him as the “Barbarossa of German liberalism.” His wife, Empress Victoria, now calling herself the Empress Friedrich, went on to continue spreading her husband’s thoughts and ideals throughout Germany, but no longer had power within the government.

The early death of Emperor Friedrich III is a tragedy in German history. For if he lived and was able to enact his Liberal policies the history of Germany would have been much different.

History of Male British Consorts Part VIII


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Mary, the future Queen Mary II, was born at St James’s Palace in London on April 30, 1662, was the eldest daughter of the Duke of York (the future King James II-VII), and his first wife, Anne Hyde. Mary’s uncle was King Charles II, who ruled the three kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland; her maternal grandfather, Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon, served for a lengthy period as Charles’s chief advisor. She was baptised into the Anglican faith in the Chapel Royal at St James’s, and was named after her ancestor, Mary I, Queen of Scots.

At the age of fifteen, Mary became betrothed to her cousin, the Protestant Stadtholder of the Netherlands, Williem III of Orange. Willem was the son of the King’s late sister, Mary, Princess Royal, and Prince Willem II and thus fourth in the line of succession after James, Mary, and Anne. At first, Charles II opposed the alliance with the Dutch ruler—he preferred that Mary wed the heir to the French throne, the Dauphin Louis, thus allying his realms with Catholic France and strengthening the odds of an eventual Catholic successor in Britain; but later, under pressure from Parliament and with a coalition with the Catholic French no longer politically favourable, he approved the proposed union.

The Duke of York agreed to the marriage, after pressure from chief minister Lord Danby and the King, who incorrectly assumed that it would improve James’s popularity among Protestants. When James told Mary that she was to marry her cousin, “she wept all that afternoon and all the following day”.

James II-VII inherited the thrones of England, Ireland and Scotland from his elder brother Charles II in 1685 with widespread support in all three countries, largely based on the principle of divine right of birth. In June 1688, two events turned dissent toward the Catholic king into a crisis; the first on June 10 was the birth of James’s son and heir James Francis Edward, threatening to create a Catholic dynasty and excluding his Protestant daughter Mary and her husband Willem III of Orange.

The second was the prosecution of the Seven Bishops for seditious libel; this was viewed as an assault on the Church of England and their acquittal on June 30, destroyed James’s political authority in England. Anti-Catholic riots in England and Scotland now made it seem that only his removal as monarch could prevent a civil war.

Representatives of the English political elite invited Willem III of Orange to assume the English throne; after he landed in Brixham on November 5, 1688, James’s army deserted and he went into exile in France on December 23. In February 1689, Parliament held James II-VII had ‘vacated’ the English throne.

Willem (William) summoned a Convention Parliament in England, which met on January 22, 1689, to discuss the appropriate course of action following James’s flight. William desired the throne but felt insecure about his position; though his wife preceded him in the line of succession to the throne, William wished to reign as king in his own right, rather than as a mere consort. William was third in line to the throne at this time behind his wife,, Mary and sister-in-law, Anne. William further demanded that he remain as king even if his wife were to die. As mentioned above, the only precedent for a joint monarchy in England dated from when Queen Mary I married Felipe II of Spain. Felipe II remained king only during his wife’s lifetime, and restrictions were placed on his power.

The English Convention Parliament was very divided on the issue. The radical Whigs in the Lower House proposed to elect William as a king (meaning that his power would be derived from the people); the moderates wanted an acclamation of William and Mary together; the Tories wanted to make him regent or only acclaim Mary as queen. Furthermore, Mary, remaining loyal to her husband, refused to reign on her own without her husband.

The House of Commons, with a Whig majority, believed that the throne was safer if the ruler were Protestant. The Commons made William accept a Bill of Rights, and, on February 13, 1689, Parliament passed the Declaration of Right and the Crown was offered to William III and Mary II as joint sovereigns. It was, however, provided that “the sole and full exercise of the regal power be only in and executed by the said Prince of Orange in the names of the said Prince and Princess during their joint lives.” In other words, even though both monarchs were sovereigns (and neither a consort of the other) William was given the majority of executive power.

William III and Mary II were crowned together at Westminster Abbey on April 11, 1689 by the Bishop of London, Henry Compton. Normally, the coronation is performed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, but the Archbishop at the time, William Sancroft, refused to recognise James’s removal from the throne.

William also summoned a Convention of the Estates of Scotland, which met on March 14, 1689 and sent a conciliatory letter, while James sent haughty uncompromising orders, swaying a majority in favour of William. On April 11 the day of the English coronation, the Convention finally declared that James was no longer King of Scotland. William II (as he was numbered in Scotland) and Mary II were offered the Scottish Crown; they accepted on May 11.

History of Male British Consorts Part VII


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Mary I of Scotland married a third time to James Hepburn (c. 1534 – 14 April 1578), 1st Duke of Orkney and 4th Earl of Bothwell (better known simply as Lord Bothwell), was a prominent Scottish nobleman.

He was the son of Patrick Hepburn, 3rd Earl of Bothwell, and Agnes Sinclair (d. 1572), daughter of Henry Sinclair, 3rd Lord Sinclair, and was styled The Master of Bothwell from birth. He succeeded his father as Earl of Bothwell and Lord Hailes in 1556.


As Lord High Admiral of Scotland, Lord Bothwell visited Copenhagen around 1559. He fell in love with Anna Tronds, known in English as Anna Throndsen or Anna Rustung. She was a Norwegian noblewoman whose father, Kristoffer Trondson, a famous Norwegian admiral, was serving as Danish Royal Consul. After their engagement, or more likely marriage under Norwegian law, Anna left with Bothwell. In Flanders, he said he was out of money and asked Anna to sell all her possessions. She complied and visited her family in Denmark to ask for more money. Anna was unhappy and apparently given to complaining about Bothwell. His treatment of Anna played a part in his eventual downfall.

In February 1566, Bothwell married Lady Jean Gordon, daughter of the 4th Earl of Huntly and sister of Sir John Gordon and the 5th Earl of Huntly. They were divorced on May 7, 1567, citing his adultery with her servant Bessie Crawford. as cause. He married Mary, Queen of Scots, eight days later.

Meeting Queen Mary in France

Lord Bothwell appears to have met Queen Mary when he visited the French Court in the autumn of 1560, after he left Anna Rustung in Flanders. He was kindly received by the Queen and her husband, King François II, and, as he himself put it: “The Queen recompensed me more liberally and honourably than I had deserved” — receiving 600 Crowns and the post and salary of gentleman of the French King’s Chamber. He visited France again in the spring of 1561, and by 5 July was back in Paris for the third time — this time accompanied by the Bishop of Orkney and the Earl of Eglinton. By August, the widowed Queen was on her way back to Scotland in a French galley, some of the organisation having been dealt with by Bothwell in his naval capacity.

Under Mary of Guise’s regency

Bothwell supported Mary of Guise, queen dowager and regent of Scotland, against the Protestant Lords of the Congregation. Bothwell and 24 followers took 6000 crowns of English money destined to be used against Guise from the Laird of Ormiston on Halloween 1559 at an ambush near Haddington. In retaliation the Protestant leader, the Duke of Châtelherault, sent his son the Earl of Arran and the Master of Maxwell to seize Bothwell’s home Crichton Castle and force the Earl, who was at Borthwick, to join them. Bothwell remained true to the Regent, though it was said in January he was “weary of his part”. The English agent Thomas Randolph also hinted at this time of a scandal involving his sister Jean Hepburn.

At Queen Mary’s court

After Protestant Lords gained power following Mary of Guise’s death and the return to Scotland of Mary I, Queen of Scots, Bothwell appears to have been not much more than a troublesome noble at court. His open quarrel with the Earl of Arran and the Hamiltons, who accused him of intriguing against the Crown, caused some degree of anguish to the Queen, and although the Earl of Arran was eventually declared mad, Bothwell was nevertheless imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle without trial in 1562.Later that year, while the Queen was in the Highlands, he escaped and went to Hermitage Castle.

The Queen and Bothwell were by now very close. When Bothwell married Lady Jean Gordon, daughter of The 4th Earl of Huntly, in February 1566, the Queen attended the wedding (the marriage lasted just over a year). In the following summer, upon hearing that he had been seriously wounded and was likely to die, she rode all the way through the hills and forests of the Borders to be with him at Hermitage Castle only a few weeks after giving birth to her son.

However, historian Lady Antonia Fraser asserts that Queen Mary was already on her way to visit Bothwell on matters of state before she heard about his illness, and that therefore this visit is not evidence they were already lovers at the time of his accident. Author Alison Weir agrees, and in fact the records show that Mary waited a full six days after learning of his injuries before going to visit Bothwell. The story of her mad flight to his side was put about later by her enemies to discredit her.

Darnley’s murder

In February 1567, Bothwell was one of those accused of having murdered the Queen’s consort, Lord Darnley. Darnley’s father, the Earl of Lennox, and other relatives agitated for vengeance and the Privy Council began proceedings against Bothwell on 12 April 1567. Sir William Drury reported to Sir William Cecil, Secretary of State to Elizabeth I of England, that the Queen was in continuous ill-health “for the most part either melancholy or sickly”. On the appointed day Bothwell rode magnificently down the Canongate, with the Earl of Morton and William Maitland of Lethington flanking him, and his Hepburns trotting behind. The trial lasted from noon till seven in the evening. Bothwell was acquitted and it was widely rumoured that he would marry Mary.

The next Wednesday, the Queen rode to the Estates of Parliament, with Lord Bothwell carrying the Sceptre, where the proceedings of Bothwell’s trial were officially declared to be just according to the law of the land. On Saturday 19 April, eight bishops, nine earls, and seven Lords of Parliament put their signatures to what became known as the Ainslie Tavern Bond, a manifesto declaring that Mary should marry a native-born subject, and handed it to Bothwell.

On Wednesday April 24, while Mary was on the road from Linlithgow Palace to Edinburgh, Bothwell suddenly appeared with 800 men. He assured her that danger awaited her in Edinburgh, and told her that he proposed to take her to his castle at Dunbar, out of harm’s way. She agreed to accompany him and arrived at Dunbar at midnight.

There, Mary was taken prisoner by Bothwell and allegedly raped by him to secure marriage to her and the crown (though whether she was his accomplice or his unwilling victim remains a controversial issue). On 12 May the Queen created him Duke of Orkney and Marquess of Fife, and on 15 May they were married in the Great Hall at Holyrood, according to Protestant rites officiated by Adam Bothwell, Bishop of Orkney. Mary gave her new husband a fur lined night-gown. Within three days, Sir William Drury wrote to London that although the manner of things appeared to be forcible, it was known to be otherwise.

The marriage divided the country into two camps, and on June 16, the Lords opposed to Mary and the Duke of Orkney (as Bothwell had newly become) signed a Bond denouncing them. A showdown between the two opposing sides followed at Carberry Hill on June 15, 1567, from which Bothwell fled, after one final embrace, never to be seen again by Mary. In December that year, Bothwell’s titles and estates were forfeited by Act of Parliament.

Escape to Scandinavia and imprisonment

After fleeing the confrontation at Carberry Hill, Bothwell went to Huntly Castle and Spynie Palace. He took ship from Aberdeen to Shetland. He was pursued by William Kirkcaldy of Grange and William Murray of Tullibardine, who sailed into Bressay Sound near Lerwick. Four of Bothwell’s ships in the Sound set sail north to Unst, where Bothwell was negotiating with German captains to hire more ships. Kirkcaldy’s flagship, the Lion, chased one of Bothwell’s ships, and both ships were damaged on a submerged rock. Bothwell sent his treasure ship to Scalloway, and fought a three-hour-long sea battle off the Port of Unst, where the mast of one of Bothwell’s ships was shot away. Subsequently, a storm forced him to sail towards Norway.

Bothwell may have hoped to reach Denmark and raise an army with the support of Frederick II of Denmark to put Mary back on the throne. He was caught off the coast of Norway (then in a union with Denmark) at Høyevarde lighthouse in Karmsundet without proper papers, and was escorted to the port of Bergen. This was the native home of Anna Throndsen. Anna raised a complaint against Bothwell, which was enforced by her powerful family; her cousin Erik Rosenkrantz, a high-level official in Norway, remanded Bothwell to the Bergenhus Fortress while Anna sued him for abandonment and return of her dowry.

Anna may have had a soft spot for Bothwell, as he persuaded her to take custody of his ship, as compensation. Bothwell would have been released, but King Frederick heard that the Scottish government was seeking Bothwell for the murder of Darnley, and decided to take him into custody in Denmark.

The Earl was sent to Copenhagen, where the Danish monarch, 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. Without Mary, the King considered him insignificant.


He 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.

A pillar to which he was chained for the last ten years of his life can still be seen, with a circular groove in the floor around the pillar.

In 1858 the body was exhumed and declared to be that of Bothwell. It was in a dried condition and was thereafter referred to as “Bothwell’s mummy”. His extended family tried to get his body sent back to Scotland, but their request has not been granted. The identity of the body has never been conclusively proven.

A body referred to as “Bothwell’s mummy” materialised in 1976 in the Edinburgh Wax Museum on the Royal Mile, as the only non-wax exhibit. The guide book claimed it was brought to Scotland in 1858.

History of Male British Consorts Part VI


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Before I proceed with more about Lord Darnley I want to backtrack and talk about the concept of the Crown Matrimonial. In Scots law, the Crown Matrimonial is a person’s right to co-reign equally with his or her spouse.

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 the 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.

Mary’s second husband, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, also demanded the Crown Matrimonial. The Protestant peers promised to make him 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.

Now back to the life of Lord Darnley…

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. Mary refused to grant Darnley the Crown Matrimonial, which would have made him the successor to the throne if she died childless. 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 9 March 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.

Mary and Darnley’s son James (the future King James VI of Scotland and I of England) was born on June 19, 1566 at Edinburgh Castle.

Following the birth of James, the succession was more secure, but Darnley and Mary’s marriage continued to struggle, despite a hunting trip together to Cramalt Tower in the Ettrick Forest in August 1566. Darnley 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.

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

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 9–10 February 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.

June 4, 1941: Death of German Emperor Wilhelm II


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Wilhelm II (Friedrich Wilhelm Viktor Albert; January 27, 1859 – June 4, 1941) was the last German Emperor (Kaiser) and King of Prussia, ruling the German Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia from June 15, 1888 to his abdication November 9, 1918. He was the eldest grandchild of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and related to many monarchs and princes of Europe, most notably King George V of the United Kingdom and Emperor Nicholas II of Russia.

After abdicating at the end of World War I on the night of November 10th the Kaiser left Spa by train to seek asylum in the Netherlands. He was granted asylum by Queen Wilhelmina.

Wilhelm first settled in Amerongen, where on November 28, he issued a belated statement of abdication from both the Prussian and imperial thrones, thus formally ending the Hohenzollerns’ 500-year rule over Prussia. Accepting the reality that he had lost both of his crowns for good, he gave up his rights to “the throne of Prussia and to the German Imperial throne connected therewith.”

He also released his soldiers and officials in both Prussia and the empire from their oath of loyalty to him. He purchased a country house in the municipality of Doorn, known as Huis Doorn, and moved in on May 15, 1920.

His cousin, George V of the United Kingdom, called him the worst criminal in history. Many nations called for his extradition and wanted the Kaiser hung for war crimes. Eventually even president Wilson agreed that to extradite the Kaiser would destabilize the tentative peace.

In 1922, Wilhelm published the first volume of his memoirs—a very slim volume that insisted he was not guilty of initiating the Great War, and defended his conduct throughout his reign, especially in matters of foreign policy. For the remaining twenty years of his life, he entertained guests (often of some standing) and kept himself updated on events in Europe. He grew a beard and allowed his famous moustache to droop, adopting a style very similar to that of his cousins King George V and Tsar Nicholas II.

He also learned the Dutch language. Wilhelm developed a penchant for archaeology while residing at the Corfu Achilleion, excavating at the site of the Temple of Artemis in Corfu, a passion he retained in his exile. He had bought the former Greek residence of Empress Elisabeth after her murder in 1898. He also sketched plans for grand buildings and battleships when he was bored.

In exile, one of Wilhelm’s greatest passions was hunting, and he killed thousands of animals, both beast and bird. Much of his time was spent chopping wood and thousands of trees were chopped down during his stay at Doorn

Wilhelm died of a pulmonary embolus in Doorn, Netherlands, on June 4, 1941, at the age of 82, just weeks before the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union.

Despite his personal animosity toward Wilhelm, Hitler wanted to bring his body back to Berlin for a state funeral, as Wilhelm was a symbol of Germany and Germans during the previous World War. Hitler felt that such a funeral would demonstrate to the Germans the direct descent of the Third Reich from the old German Empire.

However, Wilhelm’s wishes never to return to Germany until the restoration of the monarchy were respected, and the Nazi occupation authorities granted him a small military funeral, with a few hundred people present.

Wilhelm was buried in a mausoleum in the grounds of Huis Doorn, which has since become a place of pilgrimage for German monarchists. A few of these gather there every year on the anniversary of his death to pay their A few of these gather there every year on the anniversary of his death to pay their homage to the last German Emperor.

History of Male British Consorts Part V


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Marriage to Lord Darnley

Mary had briefly met her English-born half-cousin Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, in February 1561 when she was in mourning for François II of France.

Henry was the second but eldest surviving son of Matthew Stewart, 4th Earl of Lennox, by his wife Lady Margaret Douglas which supported her claim to the English succession. 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.

Darnley’s parents, sent him to France ostensibly to extend their condolences, while hoping for a potential match between their son and Mary. Both Mary and Darnley were grandchildren of Margaret Tudor, sister of Henry VIII of England, and patrilineal descendants of the High Stewards of Scotland.

Darnley shared a more recent Stewart lineage with the Hamilton family as a descendant of Mary Stewart, Countess of Arran, a daughter of James II of Scotland. They next met on Saturday February 17, 1565 at Wemyss Castle in Scotland. Mary fell in love with the “long lad”, as Queen Elizabeth called him since he was over six feet tall.

On July 22,1565 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 July 28, 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. Despite both were Catholic and a papal dispensation for the marriage of first cousins had not been obtained.

English statesmen William Cecil and the Earl of Leicester had worked to bring the couple together, Queen Elizabeth felt threatened by the marriage because as descendants of her aunt, both Mary and Darnley were claimants to the English throne.

Their children, if any, would inherit an even stronger, combined claim. Mary’s insistence on the marriage seems to have stemmed from passion rather than calculation; the English ambassador Nicholas Throckmorton stated “the saying is that surely she [Queen Mary] is bewitched”, adding that the marriage could only be averted “by violence”.

The union infuriated Queen Elizabeth, who felt the marriage should not have gone ahead without her permission, as Darnley was both her cousin and an English subject.

May 29, 1630: Birth of King Charles II of England, Scotland and Ireland.


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Charles II (May 29, 1630 – February 6, 1685) was King of Scotland from 1649 until 1651, and King of Scotland, England and Ireland from the 1660 Restoration of the monarchy until his death in 1685.

Charles II was the eldest surviving child of Charles I of England, Scotland and Ireland and Henrietta Maria de Bourbon France, daughter of King Henri IV of France and Navarre and Marie de Medici.

After Charles I’s execution at Whitehall on January 30, 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War, the Parliament of Scotland proclaimed Charles II king on February 5, 1649. But England entered the period known as the English Interregnum or the English Commonwealth, and the country was a de facto republic led by Oliver Cromwell.

Cromwell defeated Charles II at the Battle of Worcester on September 3, 1651, and Charles fled to mainland Europe. Cromwell became virtual dictator of England, Scotland and Ireland. Charles spent the next nine years in exile in France, the Dutch Republic and the Spanish Netherlands.

The political crisis that followed Cromwell’s death in 1658 resulted in the restoration of the monarchy, and Charles was invited to return to Britain. On May 29, 1660, his 30th birthday, he was received in London to public acclaim. After 1660, all legal documents stating a regnal year did so as if he had succeeded his father as king in 1649.

Charles’s English parliament enacted laws known as the Clarendon Code, designed to shore up the position of the re-established Church of England. Charles acquiesced to the Clarendon Code even though he favoured a policy of religious tolerance.


Catherine of Braganza (1638 – 1705) was was born at the Ducal Palace of Vila Viçosa, as the second surviving daughter of João, 8th Duke of Braganza and his wife, Luisa de Guzmán. Following the Portuguese Restoration War, her father was acclaimed King João IV of Portugal, on 1 December 1640.

King João IV of Portugal, became the first king from the House of Braganza in 1640 after overthrowing the 60-year rule of the Spanish Habsburgs over Portugal and restoring the Portuguese throne which had first been created in 1143.

With her father’s new position as one of Europe’s most important monarchs, Portugal then possessing a widespread colonial empire, Catherine became a prime choice for a wife for European royalty, and she was proposed as a bride for Johann of Austria, François de Vendôme, duc de Beaufort, Louis XIV and Charles II.

The consideration for the final choice was due to her being seen as a useful conduit for contracting an alliance between Portugal and England, after the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659 in which Portugal was arguably abandoned by France.

Negotiations for the marriage began during the reign of King Charles I, were renewed immediately after the Restoration, and on June 23, 1661, in spite of Spanish opposition, the marriage contract was signed.

Catherine arrived at Portsmouth on the evening of May 13–14, 1662, but was not visited there by Charles until May 20. The following day the couple were married at Portsmouth in two ceremonies – a Catholic one conducted in secret, followed by a public Anglican service.

The major foreign policy issue of his early reign was the Second Anglo-Dutch War. In 1670, he entered into the Treaty of Dover, an alliance with his cousin King Louis XIV of France. Louis agreed to aid him in the Third Anglo-Dutch War and pay him a pension, and Charles secretly promised to convert to Catholicism at an unspecified future date.

Charles attempted to introduce religious freedom for Catholics and Protestant dissenters with his 1672 Royal Declaration of Indulgence, but the English Parliament forced him to withdraw it.

In 1679, Titus Oates’s revelations of a supposed Popish Plot sparked the Exclusion Crisis when it was revealed that Charles’s brother and heir presumptive, James, Duke of York, was Catholic. The crisis saw the birth of the pro-exclusion Whig and anti-exclusion Tory parties. Charles sided with the Tories, and after the discovery of the Rye House Plot to murder Charles and James in 1683, some Whig leaders were executed or forced into exile.

Charles dissolved the English Parliament in 1681 and ruled alone until his death in 1685. He was allegedly received into the Catholic Church on his deathbed.

Traditionally considered one of the most popular English kings, Charles is known as the Merry Monarch, a reference to the liveliness and hedonism of his court. He acknowledged at least 12 illegitimate children by various mistresses, but left no legitimate children and was succeeded by his brother, James.

History of Male British Consorts Part IV


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In this entry I will examine the marriage of Mary I, Queen of Scots and her first marriage to King François II a France and how he became king consort of Scotland.

Mary I, Queen of Scots (December 8, 1542 – February 1587), also known as Mary Stuart or Mary I of Scotland, reigned over Scotland from December 14, 1542 until her forced abdication on July 24, 1567.

Mary, the only surviving legitimate child of King James V of Scotland and Marie of Guise, was six days old when her father died and she acceded to the throne.

Scotland was ruled by regents until she became an adult. From the outset, there were two claims to the regency: one from the Catholic Cardinal David Beaton, and the other from the Protestant James Hamilton, Earl of Arran, who was next in line to the throne.

Beaton’s claim was based on a version of the king’s will that his opponents dismissed as a forgery. Arran, with the support of his friends and relations, became the regent until 1554 when Mary’s mother managed to remove and succeed him.

King Henry VIII of England took the opportunity of the regency to propose marriage between Mary and his own son and heir, Edward, hoping for a union of Scotland and England.

On July 1, 1543, when Mary was six months old, the Treaty of Greenwich was signed, which promised that, at the age of ten, Mary would marry Edward and move to England, where Henry could oversee her upbringing. The treaty provided that the two countries would remain legally separate and, if the couple should fail to have children, the temporary union would dissolve.

Cardinal Beaton rose to power again and began to push a pro-Catholic pro-French agenda, angering Henry, who wanted to break the Scottish alliance with France.

King Henri II of France proposed to unite France and Scotland by marrying the young queen to his three-year-old son, the Dauphin François.

On the promise of French military help and a French dukedom for himself, Arran agreed to the marriage.

François II (January 19, 1544 – December 5, 1560) was the eldest son of King Henri II of France and Catherine de Medici.

In May 1546, Beaton was murdered by Protestant lairds, and on September 10, 1547, nine months after the death of Henry VIII, the Scots suffered a heavy defeat at the Battle of Pinkie.

Mary’s guardians, fearful for her safety, sent her to Inchmahome Priory for no more than three weeks, and turned to the French for help.

After the death of Queen Mary I of England, King Henri II of France proclaimed his eldest son and daughter-in-law king and queen of England. In France the royal arms of England were quartered with those of Francis and Mary.

Mary’s claim to the English throne was a perennial sticking point between herself and Queen Elizabeth I of England.

On April 4, 1558, Henri had Mary sign secret documents, illegal in Scottish law, that would ensure Valois rule in Scotland even if Mary died without leaving an heir. Twenty days later, she married the Dauphin at Notre Dame de Paris, and he became King Consort of Scotland.

When Henri II died on July 10, 1559, from injuries sustained in a joust, fifteen-year-old François sixteen-year-old Mary became king and queen of France.

Two of the Queen’s uncles, the Duke of Guise and the Cardinal of Lorraine, were now dominant in French politics, enjoying an ascendancy called by some historians la tyrannie Guisienne.

King François II died on December 5, 1560 of a middle ear infection that led to an abscess in his brain. Mary was grief-stricken. Her mother-in-law, Catherine de’ Medici, became regent for the late king’s ten-year-old brother Charles IX, who inherited the French throne.

The marriage produced no children, and may never even have been consummated, possibly due to François’s illnesses or undescended testicles.Mary returned to Scotland nine months later, arriving in Leith on August 19, 1561.

Having lived in France since the age of five, Mary had little direct experience of the dangerous and complex political situation in Scotland.

As a devout Catholic, she was regarded with suspicion by many of her subjects, as well as by Queen Elizabeth I England