Mary's Escape from Loch Leven



Mary started 1568 as a prisoner in Loch Leven castle. During this time she was forced to sign an article of abdication and give up the Scottish throne. Within a year however, with the aid of sympathizers, she managed to escape.

Immediately she tried to regain her crown. She built up an army that fought a battle at Langside near Glasgow on May 13th 1568. But the Earl of Moray defeated Mary's army. She took refuge at Dundrennan Abbey where she held council for the last time in Scotland.

Mary fled from Dundrennan Abbey across the Solway Firth to Workington, England, never to see Scotland again. She was only free for two weeks.

Elizabeth's Dilemma

Queen Elizabeth, Mary's cousin who ruled England, didn't want Mary to return to Scotland, but she didn't want her to go to France or Spain either. She was worried Mary might raise forces there to fight back against the Scottish Lords who had taken over the ruling of Scotland.

Elizabeth was in an impossible situation. If she sent Mary straight back to Scotland, Mary would be executed by the ruling Lords. If she set Mary free, Mary would seek help from France or Spain and stir up trouble. Elizabeth knew that some people would even prefer Mary to be Queen instead of her.

So Elizabeth refused to help Mary. The Earl of Moray produced some letters that he claimed Mary had written. He said they showed that Mary and Bothwell had plotted to kill Darnley. However, nothing was proved against her and the letters were thought to be forged. (These letters were contained in a silver box and became known as 'The Casket Letters'.)



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