MARIA STUARDA - GAETANO DONIZETTI - 2005
Maria - Gabriele Fontana
Elisabeta - Joyce DiDonato
Leicester - Eric Cutler
Talbot - Giovanni Furlanetto
Anna - Marion Ammann
Cecil - Marzio Giossi
Conductor Evelino Pido
Orchestra - Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
Chorus - Grand Théâtre de Genève
Gaetano Donizetti - Maria Stuarda
Maria Stuarda (Mary Stuart) is a tragic opera (tragedia lirica), in two acts, by Gaetano Donizetti, to a libretto by Giuseppe Bardari, based on Andrea Maffei's translation of Friedrich Schiller's 1800 play Maria Stuart.
The opera is one of a number of operas by Donizetti which deal with the Tudor period in English history, including Anna Bolena (named for Henry VIII's second wife, Anne Boleyn), Roberto Devereux (named for a putative lover of Queen Elizabeth I of England) and Il castello di Kenilworth. The lead female characters of the operas Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda, and Roberto Devereux are often referred to as the "Three Donizetti Queens". The story is loosely based on the lives of Mary, Queen of Scots (Mary Stuart) and her cousin Queen Elizabeth I. Schiller had invented the confrontation of the two Queens, who in fact never met.
After a series of problems surrounding its presentation in Naples after the final dress rehearsal – including having to be re-written for a totally different location, a different time period, and with Buondelmonte as its new title – Maria Stuarda as we know it today premiered on 30 December 1835 at La Scala in Milan.
Friedrich Schiller - Mary Stuart
Mary Stuart is a verse play by Friedrich Schiller that depicts the last days of Mary, Queen of Scots. The play consists of five acts, each divided into several scenes. The play had its première in Weimar, Germany on 14 June 1800. The play formed the basis for Donizetti's opera Maria Stuarda (1835).
Mary Stuart, the deposed Queen of Scotland, who came to England to seek the help of her cousin Queen Elizabeth of England, has been imprisoned for several years in the castle at Fotheringhay. Here she remains a dangerous inspiration to a number of disaffected Catholic noblemen, who conspire against the Protestant Elizabeth. One such is the young Mortimer, who, dazzled by Mary's beauty, plans to free her from her prison. He seeks the help of the Earl of Leicester, confidant of Elizabeth, but also former suitor of Mary. Urged by her cynical adviser Lord Burleigh to execute Mary, Elizabeth seeks instead to involve Mortimer in a secret plot to murder her rival. Rejecting Mortimer's dangerous plot to free Mary, Leicester instead arranges for the two Queens to meet. Despite Mary's humble pleas for mercy, Elizabeth treats her with scorn, and Mary retaliates by denouncing Elizabeth as illegitimate. Elizabeth sweeps off in fury, and when she is nearly assassinated on her homeward journey, Mary's fate is sealed. Elizabeth signs Mary's death warrant and gives it to Davison with ambiguous instructions. Burleigh seizes it from him and hurries to Fotheringhay, where Mary's execution is prepared. Leicester, in order to avoid suspicion falling on him, agrees to witness her death. Mary faces death with serenity, having been absolved from her past sins. Elizabeth's throne is now secure, and she blames Davison and Burleigh for Mary's death. News comes that the unhappy Leicester has left for France, and Elizabeth sits entirely alone in her palace.
Opera in two acts, by Gaetano Donizetti,
to a libretto by Giuseppe Bardari
Maria Stuarda, Queen of Scotland
Elisabetta, Queen of England
Anna Kennedy, Maria's companion
Roberto, Earl of Leicester
Lord Guglielmo Cecil, Chancellor of the Exchequer
Giorgio Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury
Time: The year 1587
Place: Palace of Westminster, London
and Fotheringhay Castle, Northamptonshire, England.
First performance at Milan, May 12, 1832
Soprano, (but sometimes sung by mezzo-soprano). Mary, Queen of Scots, daughter of James V and mother of James VI of Scotland (James I of England), whose father was Lord Darnley, her second husband. Imprisoned in Fotheringay Castle by Queen Elizabeth I, her cousin and rival for the throne and the love of the Earl of Leicester. She is visited in gaol by the Queen, with disastrous results. Elizabeth accuses her of treason and of being involved in Darnley's murder. She in turn calls Elizabeth a ‘vile bastard’. Now nothing can save her. Leicester's pleas for mercy go unheeded as Elizabeth signs Mary’s death warrant and orders Leicester to witness her execution. Talbot hears her confession and her last wish is that she be escorted to the scaffold by her companion Hannah (Anna) Kennedy. She maintains her innocence and her dignity to the end. Arias: Guarda: su’ prati appare... (‘Look: in these fields appear...’); Deh! Non piangete! (‘Alas! Do not weep!’). Created (1834, as Bianca) by Giuseppina Ronzi de Begnis; (1835) by Giacinta Puzzi-Tosi.
Maria Stuarda: "Deh! Tu di un'umile preghiera" -- Joyce DiDonato (Met Opera)
Soprano. Queen Elizabeth I of England, daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. On her orders, her cousin, Mary Stuart, is held captive in Fotheringay Castle, Mary being her rival for the throne and the love of Leicester. He begs the Queen to see Mary. She does so and there is the famous (but non‐historical) confrontation. Elizabeth accuses Mary of treachery and of being involved in the murder of her own husband, Darnley. Mary calls her a vile bastard. Encouraged by Cecil, Elizabeth signs Mary's death warrant. Created (1834, as Irene) by Anna del Serre; (1835) by Maria Malibran.
Maria Stuarda - Donizetti - Patrizia Ciofi
Hannah ( Anna ). Mezzo-soprano. Lady‐in‐waiting to Mary Stuart. As her last wish before her execution, Mary asks that Hannah be allowed to accompany her on her walk to the scaffold. Created ( 1835 ) by Teresa Moja.
Maria Stuarda - Macerata - 2007
Leicester, Earl of (Robert Dudley). Tenor. Appointed by Queen Elizabeth I as ambassador to France. Mary Stuart, held captive in Fotheringay Castle, appeals to Leicester for help and he begs the Queen to visit her in gaol. He prepares Mary for the visit, counselling her to ask the Queen for forgiveness. The meeting is a disaster and Leicester’s pleas for clemency for Mary are ignored as Elizabeth signs the death warrant. Suspecting that Leicester loves Mary, she orders him to witness the execution. Created ( 1835 ) by Domenico Reina.
Maria Stuarda - Donicetti
Lord Guglielmo Cecil:
Robert ( Lord Burleigh ). Bass. Urges Elizabeth I not to trust Mary Stuart and accompanies her to Fotheringay Castle to visit her cousin and rival. He encourages the Queen to sign Mary's death warrant. Created ( 1834 as Lamberto) by Federico Crespi , ( 1835 ) by Pietro Novelli.
MARIA STUARDA - GAETANO DONIZETTI - 2003
Maria - Edita Gruberova
Elisabeta - Sonia Ganassi
Leicester - Juan Diego Florez
Talbot - Simon Orfila
Anna - Ana Nebot
Cecil - Angel Odena
Conductor - Friedrich Haider
Orchestra - Gran Teatro del Liceo
Chorus - Gran Teatro del Liceo
Baritone/ bass. Earl of Shrewsbury. He urges Elizabeth I to be merciful to her cousin Mary. When the Queen signs Mary’s death warrant, Talbot hears Mary’s confession before she walks to the scaffold. Created (1834, as Lamberto) by Federico Crespi; (1835) by Ignazio Marini.
Gaetano Donizetti - Maria Stuarda
Beverly Sills, Eileen Farrell, Stuart Burrows, Louis Quilico, John Alldis Choir
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Deutsche Grammophon, 05 Jun. 2001
Anna Netrebko stars as Adina with Ambrogio Maestri as Doctor Dulcamara in Donizetti's “L'Elisir d'Amore.
Ying Fang as Giannetta
Scene 1: Elisabetta's court at Westminster
The Lords and Ladies of the Court enter after a tournament to honor the French ambassador, who has brought a marriage proposal to Queen Elizabeth from the Dauphin François. They express their joy as Elizabeth enters. She considers the proposal, one which would create an alliance with France, but she is reluctant to give up her freedom and also pardon her cousin Mary Stuart, the former Queen of Scots, whom she has imprisoned because of various plots against her throne (Cavatina: Ahi! quando all'ara scórgemi / "Ah! when at the altar a chaste love from heaven singles me out"). Elizabeth expresses her uncertainty while at the same time, Talbot and the courtiers plead for Mary's life (Cabaletta: Ah! dal Ciel discenda un raggio / "Ah! may some ray descend from heaven").
Just as Elizabeth inquires where Leicester is, he enters and Elizabeth tells him to inform the French ambassador that she will indeed marry François. He betrays no signs of being jealous, and the Queen assumes that she has a rival.
Alone with Leicester, Talbot reveals to him that he has just returned from Fotheringay and gives a letter and a miniature portrait of Mary. Joyously, Leicester recalls his love for Mary (Aria of Leicester, then duet with Talbot: Ah! rimiro il bel sembiante / "Ah! Again I see her beautiful face"). Talbot asks what he intends to do and Leicester swears to try to free her from her imprisonment (Vuò liberarla! Vuò liberarla! / "I want to set her free").
Talbot leaves and, as Leicester is about to do so, Elizabeth enters. Clearly knowing what has gone on between the two men, she questions him, asks about a letter from Mary, and then demands to see it. Reluctantly, Leicester hands it over, noting that Mary has asked for a meeting with her cousin and he pleads with the Queen to agree to do so. Also, upon her questioning, he confesses his love for Mary (Duet of Leicester and Elizabeth: Era d'amor l'immagine / "She was the picture of love"). Told that Elizabeth can join a hunting party on the estates where Mary is imprisoned, she agrees to the meeting, albeit with revenge on her mind (Cabaletta to the duet: Sul crin la rivale la man mi stendea / "Over my head my rival stretched out her hand").
Scene 2: Fotheringay Castle
[In many modern performances this scene is called Act 2, with the final act becoming Act 3. Donizetti scholar William Ashbrook in Grove Dictionary notes that the opera is "in two or three acts".]
Mary reflects on her youth in France with her companion, Anna (Cavatina: Oh nube! che lieve per l'aria ti aggiri / "Oh cloud! that wanders light upon the breeze"). The sounds of a royal hunt are heard and, hearing the hunters cry out that the Queen is close by, Mary expresses her disgust (Cabaletta: Nella pace del mesto reposo / "In the peace of my sad seclusion, she would afflict me with a new terror"). To her surprise, Leicester approaches and warns Mary of Elizabeth's imminent arrival, counseling her to behave humbly towards the Queen, who is then despondent (Duet: Da tutti abbandonata / "Forsaken by everyone… my heart knows no hope"). But assuring Mary that he will do whatever is necessary to obtain her freedom, Leicester leaves her to meet Elizabeth. He then attempts to plead with the Queen for her forbearance.
When Mary is brought in by Talbot, Elizabeth reacts with hostility (È sempre la stessa: superba, orgogliosa / She is always the same, proud, overbearing") and, after each character collectively expresses his or her feelings, Mary approaches and kneels before the Queen (Aria: Morta al mondo, ab! morta al trono / "Dead to the world, and dead to the throne… I come to beg your pardon"). The confrontation soon becomes hostile. Elizabeth accuses Mary of having murdered her husband, Lord Darnley, as well as acts of treason and debauchery, all the while Leicester attempting to calm both sides. Stung by Elizabeth's false accusations, Mary calls her the Figlia impura di Bolena ("Impure daughter of Boleyn") and continues with the final insult: Profanato è il soglio inglese, vil bastarda, dal tuo piè! ("The English throne is sullied, vile bastard, by your foot"). Elizabeth is horrified and demands that the guards take Mary away, declaring "The axe that awaits you will show my revenge". Mary is returned to captivity.
Scene 1: A room in Elisabetta's apartments
Cecil enters with the death warrant and attempts to persuade her to sign it. While she hesitates, Elizabeth contemplates the situation (Aria: Quella vita a me funesta / "That life, so threatening to me"). Cecil urges her to sign it "so that every ruler will know how to pardon you for it" and, as she is about to do so, Leicester arrives. Seeing him, Elizabeth exclaims "you are hastening the execution" and signs the death warrant. Leicester pleads for mercy, Elizabeth rejects the plea, and Cecil urges her to remain firm (Trio Deh! per pietà sospendi l'estremo colpo almeno / "Alas! For pity's sake spare the final blow at least"). The confrontation ends with Elizabeth holding firm despite Leicester's accusations of cruelty; she orders him to witness Mary's execution.
Scene 2: Maria's room
Mary contemplates her fate, and that of Leicester also: "I have brought misfortune to all". Talbot and Cecil enter and Cecil tells Mary that he holds her death warrant. After Cecil leaves the room, Talbot informs her that Leicester has been ordered to witness her execution. Beside herself with grief, Mary imagines that the ghost of Lord Darnley is in the room with her, while Talbot offers comfort (Duet: Quando di luce rosea il giorno a me splendea / "While with the light of dawn my life still sparkled"). However, Talbot then presses her about "one more sin": her "unity with" ("uniti eri") Babington, to which she initially responds "Ah! be silent; it was a fatal error", but, when he insists, adds that "dying my heart affirms it."
Scene 3: The courtyard at Fotheringay
People gather at the site of the execution, lamenting that a queen's death will bring shame upon England. Mary enters and says her farewells to the crowd, which includes Talbot, telling them she will be going to a better life. She calls them to a final prayer (Mary, with Chorus: Deh! Tu di un úmile preghiera il suono odi / "Ah! May Thou hear the sound of our humble prayer") and, together, she and the crowd pray for God's mercy. When Cecil arrives to tell her that the time for her execution has come, he informs her that Elizabeth has granted her final wishes, including allowing Anna to accompany her to the scaffold.
Then Mary offers a pardon to the queen (Mary, Anna, Talbot, Cecil, chorus: Di un cor che more reca il perdóno / "From a heart that is dying, may pardon be granted"). Leicester comes to bid her farewell. Both are distraught and he expresses outrage. Mary asks him to support her at the hour of her death and protests her innocence once again (Aria: Ah! se un giorno da queste ritorte / "Ah! Though one day from this prison your arm wanted to abduct me, now you lead me to my death").
She is then led to the scaffold.
1587 The execution of Mary, Queen of Scots
Mary, Queen of Scots (Mary Stuart)
Mary, Queen of Scots (8 December 1542 – 8 February 1587), also known as Mary Stuart or Mary I, reigned over Scotland from 14 December 1542 to 24 July 1567.
Mary, the only surviving legitimate child of King James V, was six days old when her father died and she acceded to the throne. She spent most of her childhood in France while Scotland was ruled by regents, and in 1558, she married the Dauphin of France, Francis. He ascended the French throne as King Francis II in 1559, and Mary briefly became queen consort of France, until his death in December 1560.
Widowed, Mary returned to Scotland, arriving in Leith on 19 August 1561. Four years later, she married her first cousin, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, but their union was unhappy. In February 1567, his residence was destroyed by an explosion, and Darnley was found murdered in the garden.
James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, was generally believed to have orchestrated Darnley's death, but he was acquitted of the charge in April 1567, and the following month he married Mary. Following an uprising against the couple, Mary was imprisoned in Loch Leven Castle. On 24 July 1567, she was forced to abdicate in favour of James VI, her one-year-old son by Darnley. After an unsuccessful attempt to regain the throne, she fled southwards seeking the protection of her first cousin once removed, Queen Elizabeth I of England. Mary had once claimed Elizabeth's throne as her own, and was considered the legitimate sovereign of England by many English Catholics, including participants in a rebellion known as the Rising of the North. Perceiving her as a threat, Elizabeth had her confined in various castles and manor houses in the interior of England. After eighteen and a half years in custody, Mary was found guilty of plotting to assassinate Elizabeth in 1586. She was beheaded the following year.
Mary Stuart. Portrait by François Clouet, c. 1558–1560
Mary Stuart and Francis II of France
Francis II (French: François II) (19 January 1544 – 5 December 1560) was a King of France of the House of Valois-Angoulême from 1559 to 1560. He was also King consort of Scotland as a result of his willing marriage to Mary, Queen of Scots, from 1558 until his death in 1560.
He ascended the throne of France at the age of fifteen after the accidental death of his father, Henry II, in 1559
The kingFrancis II and Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, 1558
Mary Stuart and Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley
Henry Stuart (or Stewart), Duke of Albany (7 December 1545 – 10 February 1567), styled as Lord Darnley until 1565, was king consort of Scotland from 1565 until his murder 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 now generally known.
He was the second but eldest surviving son of Matthew Stewart, 4th Earl of Lennox, and his wife, Lady Margaret Douglas. Darnley's maternal grandparents were Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus, and Margaret, daughter of Henry VII of England and widow of James IV of Scotland. It is the common belief that Darnley was born on 7 December, but this is disputed. He was a first cousin and the second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, and was the father of her son James VI of Scotland, who succeeded Elizabeth I of England as James I.
Mary's son by Darnley, James, was born on 19 June 1566 in Edinburgh Castle, but the murder of Rizzio led inevitably to the breakdown of her marriage. In October 1566, while staying at Jedburgh in the Scottish Borders, Mary made a journey on horseback of at least four hours each way to visit the Earl of Bothwell at Hermitage Castle, where he lay ill from wounds sustained in a skirmish with border reivers. The ride was later used as evidence by Mary's enemies that the two were lovers, though no suspicions were voiced at the time and Mary had been accompanied by her councillors and guards. Immediately after her return to Jedburgh, she suffered a serious illness that included frequent vomiting, loss of sight, loss of speech, convulsions and periods of unconsciousness. She was thought to be near death or dying. Her recovery from 25 October onwards was credited to the skill of her French physicians. The cause of her illness is unknown; diagnoses include physical exhaustion and mental stress, haemorrhage of a gastric ulcer, and porphyria.
At Craigmillar Castle, near Edinburgh, at the end of November 1566, Mary and leading nobles held a meeting to discuss the "problem of Darnley". Divorce was discussed, but a bond was probably sworn between the lords present to remove Darnley by other means: "It was thought expedient and most profitable for the common wealth ... that such a young fool and proud tyrant should not reign or bear rule over them; ... that he should be put off by one way or another; and whosoever should take the deed in hand or do it, they should defend." Darnley feared for his safety, and after the baptism of his son at Stirling shortly before Christmas he went to Glasgow to stay on his father's estates. At the start of the journey, he was afflicted by a fever, possibly smallpox, syphilis, or the result of poison, and he remained ill for some weeks.
In late January 1567, Mary prompted her husband to return to Edinburgh. He recuperated from his illness in a house belonging to the brother of Sir James Balfour at the former abbey of Kirk o' Field, just within the city wall. Mary visited him daily, so that it appeared a reconciliation was in progress. On the night of 9–10 February 1567, Mary visited her husband in the early evening and then attended the wedding celebrations of a member of her household, Bastian Pagez. In the early hours of the morning, an explosion devastated Kirk o' Field, and Darnley was found dead in the garden, apparently smothered. There were no visible marks of strangulation or violence on the body. Bothwell, Moray, Secretary Maitland, the Earl of Morton and Mary herself were among those who came under suspicion. Elizabeth wrote to Mary of the rumours, "I should ill fulfil the office of a faithful cousin or an affectionate friend if I did not ... tell you what all the world is thinking. Men say that, instead of seizing the murderers, you are looking through your fingers while they escape; that you will not seek revenge on those who have done you so much pleasure, as though the deed would never have taken place had not the doers of it been assured of impunity. For myself, I beg you to believe that I would not harbour such a thought."
By the end of February, Bothwell was generally believed to be guilty of Darnley's assassination. Lennox, Darnley's father, demanded that Bothwell be tried before the Estates of Parliament, to which Mary agreed, but Lennox's request for a delay to gather evidence was denied. In the absence of Lennox, and with no evidence presented, Bothwell was acquitted after a seven-hour trial on 12 April. A week later, Bothwell managed to convince more than two dozen lords and bishops to sign the Ainslie Tavern Bond, in which they agreed to support his aim to marry the queen.
Darnley and Mary, Queen of Scots (painting circa 1565, now at Hardwick Hall)
Mary Stuart ahd James Hepburn, Lord Bothwell
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 known for his association with, abduction of, and marriage to Mary, Queen of Scots, as her third and final husband. He was accused of the murder of Mary's second husband, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, a charge of which he was acquitted. His marriage to Mary was controversial and divided the country; when he fled the growing rebellion to Scandinavia he was arrested in Norway and lived the rest of his life imprisoned in Denmark.
James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, c 1535 - 1578. Third husband of Mary Queen of Scots
Mary depicted with her son, James VI and I; in reality, Mary saw her son for the last time when he was ten months old.
Mary Stuart and casket letters
As an anointed queen, Mary refused to acknowledge the power of any court to try her and refused to attend the inquiry at York personally (she sent representatives), but Elizabeth forbade her attendance anyway. As evidence against Mary, Moray presented the so-called casket letters—eight unsigned letters purportedly from Mary to Bothwell, two marriage contracts, and a love sonnet or sonnets said to have been found in a silver-gilt casket just less than one foot (30 cm) long, decorated with the monogram of King Francis II. Mary denied writing them, arguing that her handwriting was not difficult to imitate, and insisted they were forgeries. They are widely believed to be crucial as to whether Mary shares the guilt for Darnley's murder. The chair of the commission of inquiry, the Duke of Norfolk, described them as horrible letters and diverse fond ballads, and sent copies to Elizabeth, saying that if they were genuine they might prove Mary's guilt.
The authenticity of the casket letters has been the source of much controversy among historians. It is impossible now to prove either way. The originals, written in French, were probably destroyed in 1584 by Mary's son. The surviving copies, in French or translated into English, do not form a complete set. There are incomplete printed transcriptions in English, Scots, French, and Latin from the 1570s.Other documents scrutinised included Bothwell's divorce from Jean Gordon. Moray had sent a messenger in September to Dunbar to get a copy of the proceedings from the town's registers.
Mary's biographers, such as Antonia Fraser, Alison Weir, and John Guy, have come to the conclusion that either the documents were complete forgeries, or incriminating passages were inserted into genuine letters, or that the letters were written to Bothwell by some other person or by Mary to some other person. Guy points out that the letters are disjointed, and that the French language and grammar employed in the sonnets are too poor for a writer with Mary's education. However, certain phrases of the letters (including verses in the style of Ronsard) and certain characteristics of style would be compatible with known writings of Mary.
The casket letters did not appear publicly until the Conference of 1568, although the Scottish privy council had seen them by December 1567. Mary had been forced to abdicate and held captive for the best part of a year in Scotland. The letters were never made public to support her imprisonment and forced abdication. Historian Jenny Wormald believes this reluctance on the part of the Scots to produce the letters, and their destruction in 1584, whatever their content, constitute proof that they contained real evidence against Mary, whereas Weir thinks it demonstrates the lords required time to fabricate them. At least some of Mary's contemporaries who saw the letters had no doubt that they were genuine. Among them was the Duke of Norfolk, who secretly conspired to marry Mary in the course of the commission, although he denied it when Elizabeth alluded to his marriage plans, saying "he meant never to marry with a person, where he could not be sure of his pillow".
The majority of the commissioners accepted the casket letters as genuine after a study of their contents and comparison of the penmanship with examples of Mary's handwriting. Elizabeth, as she had wished, concluded the inquiry with a verdict that nothing was proven, either against the confederate lords or Mary. For overriding political reasons, Elizabeth wished neither to convict nor acquit Mary of murder, and there was never any intention to proceed judicially; the conference was intended as a political exercise. In the end, Moray returned to Scotland as its regent, and Mary remained in custody in England. Elizabeth had succeeded in maintaining a Protestant government in Scotland, without either condemning or releasing her fellow sovereign. In Fraser's opinion, it was one of the strangest "trials" in legal history, ending with no finding of guilt against either party with one let home to Scotland while the other remained in custody.
In May 1569, Elizabeth attempted to mediate the restoration of Mary in return for guarantees of the Protestant religion, but a convention held at Perth rejected the deal overwhelmingly. Norfolk continued to scheme for a marriage with Mary, and Elizabeth imprisoned him in the Tower of London between October 1569 and August 1570. Early the following year, Moray was assassinated. Moray's death coincided with a rebellion in the North of England, led by Catholic earls, which persuaded Elizabeth that Mary was a threat. English troops intervened in the Scottish civil war, consolidating the power of the anti-Marian forces. Elizabeth's principal secretaries Sir Francis Walsingham and William Cecil, Lord Burghley, watched Mary carefully with the aid of spies placed in Mary's household.
In 1571, Cecil and Walsingham uncovered the Ridolfi Plot, which was a plan to replace Elizabeth with Mary with the help of Spanish troops and the Duke of Norfolk. Norfolk was executed, and the English Parliament introduced a bill barring Mary from the throne, to which Elizabeth refused to give royal assent. To discredit Mary, the casket letters were published in London. Plots centred on Mary continued. Pope Gregory XIII endorsed one plan in the latter half of the 1570s to marry her to the governor of the Low Countries and half-brother of Philip II of Spain, Don John of Austria, who was supposed to organise the invasion of England from the Spanish Netherlands. After the Throckmorton Plot of 1583, Walsingham introduced the Bond of Association and the Act for the Queen's Safety, which sanctioned the killing of anyone who plotted against Elizabeth and aimed to prevent a putative successor from profiting from her murder.
In 1584, Mary proposed an "Association" with her son, James. She announced that she was ready to stay in England, to renounce the Pope's bull of excommunication and to retire, abandoning her pretensions to the English Crown. She also offered to join an offensive league against France. For Scotland, she proposed a general amnesty, agreed that James should marry with Elizabeth's knowledge and agreed that there should be no change in religion. Her only condition was the immediate alleviation of the conditions of her captivity. James went along with the idea for a while but then rejected it and signed an alliance treaty with Elizabeth, abandoning his mother. Elizabeth also rejected the Association because she did not trust Mary to cease plotting against her during the negotiations.
In February 1585, William Parry was convicted of plotting to assassinate Elizabeth, without Mary's knowledge, though her agent Thomas Morgan was implicated. In April, Mary was placed in the stricter custody of Sir Amias Paulet, and at Christmas she was moved to a moated manor house at Chartley.
On 11 August 1586, after being implicated in the Babington Plot, Mary was arrested while out riding and taken to Tixall. In a successful attempt to entrap her, Walsingham had deliberately arranged for Mary's letters to be smuggled out of Chartley. Mary was misled into thinking her letters were secure, while in reality they were deciphered and read by Walsingham. From these letters it was clear that Mary had sanctioned the attempted assassination of Elizabeth. She was moved to Fotheringhay Castle in a four-day journey ending on 25 September, and in October was put on trial for treason under the Act for the Queen's Safety before a court of 36 noblemen, including Cecil, Shrewsbury, and Walsingham. Spirited in her defence, Mary denied the charges. She told her triers, "Look to your consciences and remember that the theatre of the whole world is wider than the kingdom of England". She protested that she had been denied the opportunity to review the evidence, that her papers had been removed from her, that she was denied access to legal counsel and that as a foreign anointed queen she had never been an English subject and thus could not be convicted of treason.
Mary was convicted on 25 October and sentenced to death with only one commissioner, Lord Zouche, expressing any form of dissent. Nevertheless, Elizabeth hesitated to order her execution, even in the face of pressure from the English Parliament to carry out the sentence. She was concerned that the killing of a queen set a discreditable precedent and was fearful of the consequences, especially if, in retaliation, Mary's son, James, formed an alliance with the Catholic powers and invaded England. Elizabeth asked Paulet, Mary's final custodian, if he would contrive a clandestine way to "shorten the life" of Mary, which he refused to do on the grounds that he would not make "a shipwreck of my conscience, or leave so great a blot on my poor posterity". On 1 February 1587, Elizabeth signed the death warrant, and entrusted it to William Davison, a privy councillor. On 3 February, ten members of the Privy Council of England, having been summoned by Cecil without Elizabeth's knowledge, decided to carry out the sentence at once.
At Fotheringhay on the evening of 7 February 1587, Mary was told that she was to be executed the next morning. She spent the last hours of her life in prayer, distributing her belongings to her household, and writing her will and a letter to the King of France. The scaffold that was erected in the Great Hall was two feet high and draped in black. It was reached by two or three steps and furnished with the block, a cushion for her to kneel on and three stools, for her and the earls of Shrewsbury and Kent, who were there to witness the execution. The executioners (one named Bull and his assistant) knelt before her and asked forgiveness, as it was typical for the executioner to ask the pardon of the one being put to death. She replied, "I forgive you with all my heart, for now, I hope, you shall make an end of all my troubles." Her servants, Jane Kennedy and Elizabeth Curle, and the executioners helped Mary to remove her outer garments, revealing a velvet petticoat and a pair of sleeves in crimson brown, the liturgical colour of martyrdom in the Catholic Church, with a black satin bodice and black trimmings. As she disrobed she smiled and said that she "never had such grooms before ... nor ever put off her clothes before such a company". She was blindfolded by Kennedy with a white veil embroidered in gold, knelt down on the cushion in front of the block, on which she positioned her head, and stretched out her arms. Her last words were, In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum ("Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit").
Mary was not beheaded with a single strike. The first blow missed her neck and struck the back of her head. The second blow severed the neck, except for a small bit of sinew, which the executioner cut through using the axe. Afterwards, he held her head aloft and declared, "God save the Queen." At that moment, the auburn tresses in his hand turned out to be a wig and the head fell to the ground, revealing that Mary had very short, grey hair. A small dog owned by the queen is said to have emerged from hiding among her skirts—though eye-witness Emanuel Tomascon does not include it in his report. Items supposedly worn or carried by Mary at her execution are of doubtful provenance; contemporary accounts state that all her clothing, the block, and everything touched by her blood was burnt in the fireplace of the Great Hall to obstruct relic-hunters.
When the news of the execution reached Elizabeth, she became indignant and asserted that Davison had disobeyed her instructions not to part with the warrant and that the Privy Council had acted without her authority. Elizabeth's vacillation and deliberately vague instructions gave her plausible deniability to attempt to avoid the direct stain of Mary's blood. Davison was arrested, thrown into the Tower of London, and found guilty of misprision. He was released nineteen months later after Cecil and Walsingham interceded on his behalf.
Mary's request to be buried in France was refused by Elizabeth. Her body was embalmed and left in a secure lead coffin until her burial, in a Protestant service, at Peterborough Cathedral in late July 1587. Her entrails, removed as part of the embalming process, were buried secretly within Fotheringhay Castle. Her body was exhumed in 1612, when her son, King James VI and I, ordered that she be reinterred in Westminster Abbey in a chapel opposite the tomb of Elizabeth I. In 1867, her tomb was opened in an attempt to ascertain the resting place of James I; he was ultimately found with Henry VII, but many of her other descendants, including Elizabeth of Bohemia, Prince Rupert of the Rhine and the children of Anne, Queen of Great Britain, were interred in her vault.
On 26 January 1569, Mary was moved to Tutbury Castle and placed in the custody of the Earl of Shrewsbury and his formidable wife Bess of Hardwick. Elizabeth considered Mary's designs on the English throne to be a serious threat and so confined her to Shrewsbury's properties, including Tutbury, Sheffield Castle, Wingfield Manor and Chatsworth House, all located in the interior of England halfway between Scotland and London, and distant from the sea. Mary was permitted her own domestic staff, which never numbered fewer than sixteen, and needed thirty carts to transport her belongings from house to house. Her chambers were decorated with fine tapestries and carpets as well as her cloth of state on which she had the French phrase En ma fin est mon commencement ("In my end lies my beginning") embroidered. Her bedlinen was changed daily, and her own chefs prepared meals with a choice of thirty-two dishes served on silver plates. She was occasionally allowed outside under strict supervision, spent seven summers at the spa town of Buxton, and spent much of her time doing embroidery. Her health declined, perhaps through porphyria or lack of exercise, and by the 1580s she had severe rheumatism in her limbs, rendering her lame.
Tomb of Mary at Westminster Abbey
Mary in captivity, by Nicholas Hilliard, c. 1578
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I (7 September 1533 – 24 March 1603) was Queen of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death on 24 March 1603. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the last monarch of the House of Tudor.
Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, his second wife, who was executed two-and-a-half years after Elizabeth's birth. Anne's marriage to Henry VIII was annulled, and Elizabeth was declared illegitimate. Her half-brother, Edward VI, ruled until his death in 1553, bequeathing the crown to Lady Jane Grey and ignoring the claims of his two half-sisters, Elizabeth and the Roman Catholic Mary, in spite of statute law to the contrary. Edward's will was set aside and Mary became queen, deposing Lady Jane Grey. During Mary's reign, Elizabeth was imprisoned for nearly a year on suspicion of supporting Protestant rebels.
In 1558, Elizabeth succeeded her half-sister to the throne and set out to rule by good counsel. She depended heavily on a group of trusted advisers, led by William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley. One of her first actions as queen was the establishment of an English Protestant church, of which she became the Supreme Governor. This Elizabethan Religious Settlement was to evolve into the Church of England. It was expected that Elizabeth would marry and produce an heir to continue the Tudor line. She never did, despite numerous courtships. As she grew older, Elizabeth became celebrated for her virginity. A cult grew around her which was celebrated in the portraits, pageants, and literature of the day.
The "Darnley Portrait" of Elizabeth I (c. 1575)
In government, Elizabeth was more moderate than her father and half-siblings had been. One of her mottoes was "video et taceo" ("I see but say nothing"). In religion, she was relatively tolerant and avoided systematic persecution. After the pope declared her illegitimate in 1570 and released her subjects from obedience to her, several conspiracies threatened her life, all of which were defeated with the help of her ministers' secret service. Elizabeth was cautious in foreign affairs, manoeuvring between the major powers of France and Spain. She only half-heartedly supported a number of ineffective, poorly resourced military campaigns in the Netherlands, France, and Ireland. By the mid-1580s, England could no longer avoid war with Spain. England's defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 associated Elizabeth with one of the greatest military victories in English history.
Elizabeth's reign is known as the Elizabethan era. The period is famous for the flourishing of English drama, led by playwrights such as William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe, and for the seafaring prowess of English adventurers such as Francis Drake. Some historians depict Elizabeth as a short-tempered, sometimes indecisive ruler, who enjoyed more than her share of luck. Towards the end of her reign, a series of economic and military problems weakened her popularity. Elizabeth is acknowledged as a charismatic performer and a dogged survivor in an era when government was ramshackle and limited, and when monarchs in neighbouring countries faced internal problems that jeopardised their thrones. Such was the case with Elizabeth's rival, Mary, Queen of Scots, whom she imprisoned in 1568 and had executed in 1587. After the short reigns of Elizabeth's half-siblings, her 44 years on the throne provided welcome stability for the kingdom and helped forge a sense of national identity.
Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester
Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester KG PC (24 June 1532 – 4 September 1588) was an English nobleman and the favourite and close friend of Elizabeth I's, from her first year on the throne until his death. He was a suitor for the queen's hand for many years.
Dudley's youth was overshadowed by the downfall of his family in 1553 after his father, the Duke of Northumberland, had failed to establish Lady Jane Grey on the English throne. Robert Dudley was condemned to death but was released in 1554 and took part in the Battle of St. Quentin under Philip II of Spain, which led to his full rehabilitation. On Elizabeth I's accession in November 1558, Dudley was appointed Master of the Horse. In October 1562, he became a Privy Councillor and, in 1587, was appointed Lord Steward of the Royal Household. In 1564, Dudley became Earl of Leicester and, from 1563, one of the greatest landowners in North Wales and the English West Midlands by royal grants.
Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, was one of Elizabeth's leading statesmen, involved in domestic as well as foreign politics alongside William Cecil and Francis Walsingham. Although he refused to be married to Mary, Queen of Scots, Dudley was for a long time relatively sympathetic to her until, from the mid-1580s, he strongly advocated for her execution. As patron of the Puritan movement, he supported non-conforming preachers but tried to mediate between them and the bishops of the Church of England. A champion also of the international Protestant cause, he led the English campaign in support of the Dutch Revolt (1585–87).
Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, c. 1564.
His acceptance of the post of Governor-General of the United Provinces infuriated Queen Elizabeth. The expedition was a military and political failure, and it ruined the Earl financially. Leicester was engaged in many large-scale business ventures and was one of the main backers of Francis Drake and other explorers and privateers. During the Spanish Armada, the Earl was in overall command of the English land forces. In this function, he invited Queen Elizabeth to visit her troops at Tilbury. This was the last of many events he had organised over the years, the most spectacular being the festival at his seat Kenilworth Castle in 1575 on occasion of a three-week visit by the Queen. Dudley was a principal patron of the arts, literature, and the Elizabethan theatre.
Robert Dudley's private life interfered with his court career and vice versa. When his first wife, Amy Robsart, fell down a flight of stairs and died in 1560, he was free to marry the Queen. However, the resulting scandal very much reduced his chances in this respect. Popular rumours that he had arranged for his wife's death continued throughout his life, despite the coroner's jury's verdict of accident. For 18 years he did not remarry for Queen Elizabeth's sake and when he finally did, his new wife, Lettice Knollys, was permanently banished from court. This and the death of his only legitimate son and heir were heavy blows. Shortly after the child's death in 1584, a virulent libel known as Leicester's Commonwealth was circulated in England. It laid the foundation of a literary and historiographical tradition that often depicted the Earl as the Machiavellian "master courtier" and as a deplorable figure around Elizabeth I. More recent research has led to a reassessment of his place in Elizabethan government and society.
William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley
William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, (13 September 1520 – 4 August 1598) was an English statesman, the chief advisor of Queen Elizabeth I for most of her reign, twice Secretary of State (1550–53 and 1558–72) and Lord High Treasurer from 1572. Albert Pollard says, "From 1558 for forty years the biography of Cecil is almost indistinguishable from that of Elizabeth and from the history of England."
Burghley set as the main goal of English policy the creation of a united and Protestant British Isles. His methods were to complete the control of Ireland, and to forge an alliance with Scotland. Protection from invasion required a powerful Royal Navy. While he was not fully successful, his successors agreed with his goals. Cecil was not a political genius or an original thinker; but he was a cautious man and a wise counselor, with a rare and natural gift for avoiding dangers. In 1587, Cecil persuaded the Queen to order the execution of the Roman Catholic Mary Queen of Scots, after she was implicated in a plot to assassinate Elizabeth. Derek Wilson (2013) says, "Few politicians were more subtle or unscrupulous than William Cecil."He was the founder of the Cecil dynasty which has produced many politicians including two Prime Ministers.
George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury
George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, 6th Earl of Waterford, 12th Baron Talbot, 11th Baron Furnivall, KG, Earl Marshal (1528 – 18 November 1590) was an English magnate and military commander.
Talbot was the only son of Francis Talbot, 5th Earl of Shrewsbury and Mary Dacre. In early life he saw active military service, when he took part in the invasion of Scotland under the Protector Somerset. He was sent by his father in October 1557 to the relief of Thomas Percy, 7th Earl of Northumberland pent up in Alnwick Castle. He then remained for some months in service on the border, with five hundred horsemen under his command.
In 1560, he inherited the Earldom of Shrewsbury, the Barony of Furnivall and the position of Justice in Eyre, which had been his father's. He also took over his father's position of Chamberlain of the Exchequer. One year later, he was created a Knight of the Garter, and in 1567, he married Bess of Hardwick in a double wedding with their two eldest children from previous marriages. Elizabeth Shrewsbury, Bess, commemorated her new initials in magnificent style, her house at Hardwick is topped with a balustrade within which the scrolling letters ES appear four times.
Shrewsbury was selected as the keeper of Mary, Queen of Scots, who was imprisoned by Queen Elizabeth I in 1568 after she had escaped to England from Scotland following the disastrous Battle of Langside. Elizabeth imposed the responsible task of guarding Mary on him, and did not allow him to resign the charge for over 15 years. For this and other reasons his marriage became rocky.
Shrewsbury received his ward at Tutbury Castle on 2 February 1569, but in June he removed to Wingfield Manor. There a rescue was attempted by Leonard Dacre. The Earl had several houses and castles in the interior of the kingdom, in any of which Mary might be kept with little danger. In September the household was back again at Tutbury, where an additional guard or spy, temporarily joined the family in the person of Henry Hastings, 3rd Earl of Huntingdon. In November took place the Northern Rebellion, with the revolt of the Earls of Northumberland and Westmorland, who planned to march on Tutbury. Mary was for the time being moved to Coventry, and did not return until the following January. In May 1570 Shrewsbury conducted her to Chatsworth, and he foiled another cabal for her release. Cecil and Mildmay visited Chatsworth in October, and agreed on Mary's removal to Sheffield Castle (Shrewsbury's principal seat), which took place shortly afterwards. At Sheffield, apart from occasional visits to the baths at Buxton, to Chatsworth, or to the old Hardwick Hall, she remained under Shrewsbury's guardianship for the next fourteen years. During the winter of 1571-2 the earl was in London, the queen during his absence being left in charge of Sir Ralph Sadler.