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.
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.