Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Lord Darnley

Mary's Fortunes Decline

From this date on Mary was essentially doomed.  Elizabeth, hearing the news of Darnley's murder, was horrified that a king had been murdered.  As despicable as Darnley was, it was considered more despicable to kill a king.

James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell
James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell

After the obligatory forty days of mourning had elapsed, Mary was kidnapped by Bothwell, her trusted councilor, who now fancied himself the most appropriate husband for the widowed queen.  He forced the signing of a bond between himself and the Lords, approving him as the most suitable mate for the Queen of Scotland.  Bothwell, with the bond in hand, confronted Mary, swept her away to Dunbar Castle, and, to ensure his matrimonial privilege over her, raped her.  A clearly distraught and emotionally exhausted Mary finally consented to marriage with Bothwell.  It was a dizzying time.  From the murder of Darnley to the marriage of Bothwell, a mere three months had elapsed.

Dunbar Castle ruins
Dunbar Castle ruins

Within a month, Mary had been forced to abdicate and her infant son James had been declared King, with his uncle Lord Moray as regent.  Mary escaped to England, and sought the protection of her cousin Elizabeth.  A month after his marriage, Bothwell fled to Denmark, where he was immediately imprisoned for past acts of piracy.  Bothwell eventually died in prison, a madman.  Mary and her third husband were never to see one another again.



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