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This Day in History

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Tuesday, December 8, 1542. :   Mary, Queen of Scots, is born.

     Mary, Queen of Scots, also known as Mary Stuart, was born on 8 December 1542, daughter of Mary de Guise of France and James V of Scotland. When her father died on December 14, the baby Mary became Queen of Scotland but James Hamilton, Duke of Arran, served as regent for Mary. Mary's mother wished to cement an alliance with France, so arranged a betrothal for the young Mary to France's dauphin, Francois. At age 6, Mary was then sent to France to be groomed for her future role as Queen of France, which she took up in 1559.

As the granddaughter of Margaret Tudor, the older sister of Henry VIII of England, Mary Stuart was considered to be the rightful heir to the English throne. This was over Elizabeth, daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, whose marriage was not recognised by many Catholics in England because Henry had unlawfully divorced Catherine of Aragon. Mary Stuart, in their eyes, was the rightful heir of Mary I of England, Henry VIII's daughter by his first wife.

Francois died on 5 December 1560, and Mary's mother-in-law, Catherine de Medici, became regent for his brother Charles IX. Mary Stuart then returned to Scotland to rule as Queen, but did not recognise Elizabeth's right to rule in England. Years of plotting and controversy followed as Mary tried to assert her right to the throne, with many conspirators on either side of Mary or Elizabeth being killed as they obstructed the way of the other. Ultimately, the attempt to place Mary on the Scottish throne resulted in her trial, which commenced on 11 October 1586. Mary Queen of Scots was executed on 8 February 1587, on suspicion of having been involved in a plot to murder Elizabeth.

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