This Day in History for February 8

On this day in 1587 Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots was executed by manner of beheading at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire, England. 

After years of plotting for Elizabeth's throne and then her life, Mary finally pushed her cousin, the Queen of England far enough over the edge.  Elizabeth no longer dawdled about signing her death warrant.

This one seems rather creepy huh?  Kinda like a 16th century "dead man walking" scene.

Mary's last words, "Into thy hands, O, Lord, I commend my spirit"
Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, woodcut from Adam Blackwood’s Martyre de la royne d’Escosse, douairiere de France, 1589.

Click here to read a first hand account of the execution of Queen Mary I by Robert Wynkfielde.

And here to read Mary's last letter, written to her former brother-in-law, King Henry III of France.

Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots while still in ownership of her head


  1. I just read Chapter 3 of Philippa Gregory's Other Queen--Mary Queen of Scots comes across as such an arrogant woman, so conscious of her status and her dignity, never mind the fact that she is in exile!

  2. I'm actually reading Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles by Margaret George- I read the Fraser version, which I also liked. I can't help feeling that Mary and Marie Antoinette have so much in common and I always dread getting to the execution part.

  3. Devaki: how are you liking the book otherwise. Can't say that I liked it very much and I completely agree with you about how flaky Mary came across!

    Ms. Lucy: Oh, I loved that book! Definitely one that I would like to read again one day. I cannot imagine what it feels like to know you are going to your death. Spooky.

  4. I have Mary, Queen of Scots to read. I've had it for ages. I just cringe whenever I read about all the beheadings that took place back then. I don't understand how people would stand around and watch---I sure wouldn't have.

  5. Can you believe I finally picked up The Other Queen? You know how I feel about Gregory, but I'm giving it a try anyway.

  6. I missed this last week. Great as always. February wasn't a good month for royal woman who wanted to keep their heads!

    I liked that George book too (listening to the Cleopatra one now).

    At least Elizabeth let Mary live for a long time -- even if it was in isolation and exile. Mary was so unprepared for her life in Scotland.


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