Maryís Early Years

Linlithgow Palace, Long Gallery  

Mary was born in Linlithgow Palace near Edinburgh on the 8th of December, 1542. Her mother was Marie of Guise, a French noble-woman who had married the King of Scotland.

Mary's father, King James V of Scotland, was angry when he found out that his child was a girl because he wanted a boy. Mary's two brothers had died the year before, so she became the heir to the throne of Scotland. Her father died a few days later and so Mary became Mary Queen of Scots when she was only a baby of six days old.

Of course a baby couldnít rule Scotland and so a Regent called The Earl of Arran had to rule for her until she was old enough to rule by herself.

The people of Scotland were afraid that Mary would grow up and marry a foreign prince and that Scotland would then be ruled by a foreign king. They were also afraid that England would invade Scotland with only a woman in charge of the country.

The problem was that people in those days thought that a monarch should be a mighty warrior, and most people did not see women as warlike leaders. Women in powerful positions were usually pressurised in to marriage as they were seen as weak on their own, but as soon as a woman married, she gave up her power to her husband. Elizabeth I was one of the women who later triumphed over this prejudice, acting the warrior queen and refusing to marry, showing that a woman could do the job at least as well as a man.

Elizabeth's father, Henry VIII, became very interested in the new Scottish royal baby, and suggested that when Mary was older she could marry his son Edward, Prince of Wales, so that Scotland and England would have one king. He also suggested that Mary should grow up in England so he could keep an eye on her. He even said he could rule Scotland for her. But the Scots refused and young Mary stayed in Scotland at her motherís wishes. Scotland and England just didnít get along at that time and no-one wanted an English King. Some Scots even thought that Mary should rule England!

So Henry VIII attacked Scotland, and his English troops came north of the border. In 1547, Henry died. In the same year there was a battle at Pinkie Cleugh, not far from Edinburgh. In those days wars between England and Scotland were always happening. The English won. This meant that many of Scotlandís great leaders were now dead. Scotland was even more worried about England taking over.

Maryís mother became very anxious because of all the battles. She was worried for her daughterís safety. It was suspected that Mary would be captured, so she was first moved to Inchmahome Priory on the Lake of Menteith and then to Dumbarton Castle.


Inchmahome Priory

Dumbarton Castle

A year later, in 1548, when Mary was almost 6 years old, the French king suggested that Mary should marry his son, Francis.

Mary then went to live at the French court and her mother ruled Scotland while she was gone.


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