Posted in Events in History

The Coronation of Mary Queen of Scots

unknown artist

Already Queen

Nine month old Mary Stuart was crowned queen of Scotland on September 9, 1543.  She had actually become queen on December 14, 1542, when she was only six days old. This was the day that her father had died, making her the youngest female to become queen.

A Strong Advocate

Mary’s mother, Mary of Guise, had schemed and plotted for months, in an effort to avoid Henry VIII’s offers of marriage to her daughter. He wanted the little queen for his son, the future Edward VI. However, Mary of Guise, being a French Catholic, wanted nothing to do with the Protestant Englishmen. Although James Hamilton, the Earl of Arran, had been appointed as regent to the young queen, her mother was very much in control of the young child’s comings and goings. Her wit and political savviness enabled her to remove the young Mary from Linlithgow Palace, where she was born, and where Arran felt he had more control over her. By July, the baby had been moved to Stirling Castle, Mary Guise’s castle of choice. This removed the infant queen out from under Arran’s control and allowed her mother more time and freedom to plot how to free Mary from the reach of the English.

The Coronation

Mary Queen of Scots When an Infant, Benjamin Robert Haydon, 1842

On the ninth of September, Mary was carried to the Chapel Royal at Stirling Castle and crowned Queen of Scotland. It was a very solemn affair, having conferred not only civil legitimacy on the young queen, but it also validated her religious rights as queen as well.

According to biographer, John Guy, three items of significance were used during the ceremony. The Earl of Arran carried the crown, the Earl of Lennox held the scepter, and the Earl of Argyll carried the sword of state. The scepter was given to James IV in the 1490s by Pope Alexander VI, and the sword was obtained from Pope Julius II in 1507. The crown had been worn by Mary’s father, James V, at her mother’s coronation in 1540. These three items are known collectively as the honors of Scotland and are still on display at Edinburgh Castle today. However, they were not used together until the coronation of Mary.

Honors of Scotland courtesy of DorothyDunnett.co.uk

The crown was, of course, too big for a baby to wear. Instead, Cardinal David Beaton held the crown over Mary’s head. He also anointed her with holy oil and said a blessing over her during the ceremony.

Traditionally, heralds would read aloud the royal genealogy, a list of titles and honors that could take up to a half an hour to recite. However, the infant queen had a different plan. She squawked and wailed throughout the ceremony, causing the typical proceedings to be cut short.

The coronation may have been a solemn affair, but it was followed by banqueting, masques, and dancing afterward.

Works cited:

John Guy, Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart

http://www.dorothydunnett.co.uk/visits-edinburgh.php

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