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Elizabeth I vs Mary, Queen of Scots

The rivalry between the two queens was marked by imprisonment, escape and execution. Tracy Borman explains how personal and political ambition ignored their shared bloodlines
The daughter and great-niece of Henry VIII respectively, Elizabeth and Mary, Queen of Scots didn’t feel strong family ties when it came to their relationship
ALAMY X2

Tracy Borman has written numerous books on the Tudor period, including Elizabeth’s Women: The Hidden Story of the Virgin Queen. Her latest book, Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him, is out now, published by Hodder & Stoughton.

In December 1542, James V King of Scots, lay dying at Falkland Palace when one of his nobles arrived with the news that his wife, Mary of Guise, had given birth to a girl. According to legend, he exclaimed: “It came with a lass and it will pass with a lass!” He was referring to his Stuart dynasty which had gained the throne of Scotland through the marriage of Marjorie Bruce, daughter of Robert the Bruce, to Walter Stewart, 6th High Steward of Scotland. James had no other surviving children and, like most of his contemporaries (including Henry VIII), he saw it as something of a disaster to leave his throne to a girl – especially one who was only six days old.

Mary’s parents James V, King of Scots and Mary of Guise

But, tiny though she was, Mary as she was christened, also had a powerful claim to the English throne: her late father was the son of Henry VIII’s eldest sister, Margaret Tudor. The fact that Henry had excluded this branch of his family from the succession came to matter less when two of his immediate successors reigned for just a short time, leaving his younger daughter Elizabeth as the sole survivor of the Tudor dynasty

MAIN: The young Mary, pictured here around the age of 12 or 13, was known for her vivaciousness

DID YOU KNOW?

After the death of her first husband François, Mary customarily wore black, mourning his loss and that of the French crown.

FRENCH CONNECTION

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About History Revealed

Today, Che Guevara is best known as one of the 20th century's iconic images. But the events of the Cuban Revolution, in which he was a key figure 60 years ago, would have wide-reaching consequences - including almost bringing about a third world war. What made it such a global affair, with superpowers going eyeball to eyeball? Plus: Cousins Elizabeth I of England and Mary, Queen of Scots have an almighty falling out (leading to one losing her head), outlandish medical cures, Roman Emperor Constantine, the great Thames Frost Fairs of the Victorian era, and more.