Mary Queen of Scots and the French Connection

Alexander Wilkinson considers what the French made of the controversial royal who played a pivotal role in the French wars of religion, both as Queen of Scots and Queen of France.

Mary, Queen of Scots, was a very French figure. In 1548, at the age of just five, she left Scotland for France. It was there that she was to spend her formative years. A decade later, she married the heir to the French throne, the Dauphin François. In July 1559, François succeeded his father Henri II and the couple became king and queen of France and Scotland. Although Mary returned to Scotland in 1561 following the death of her husband, she continued to possess and manage considerable French estates, the legacy of the dowry settled upon her as a consequence of her brief marriage. In Scotland, and even during her long imprisonment in England, Mary maintained a predominantly French household and a pronounced interest in French affairs. French was to remain her first language.

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