Cardinal Beaton, Earl of Arran, Francis II of France, Henry II of France, Henry VIII of England, King Consort of Scotland, Mary I of Scotland, Regency
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