Category Archives: Mary Queen of Scots

Dangerous Women

Last month, I wrote an article for the Dangerous Women Project. The project asked what it means to be a “dangerous woman” (partly in response to such an accusation aimed at Scotland’s First Minister in 2016). Some of the most dangerous women I could think of were the prostitutes of Renaissance Florence, and so I wrote a piece about them.

The article comes out of my academic work and written for a general audience. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

You can read it here, along with a whole host of other fascinating posts about dangerous women. There are posts about all sorts of women, from past to present. Of particular interest are posts on Anne Boleyn, Mary Queen of Scots, and her mother Marie de Guise.

Lucas Cranach, The Peasant and the Prostitute

Lucas Cranach, The Peasant and the Prostitute

You can no doubt imagine my interest in this project: Dangerous Women is pretty close to Infamous Women! As the lack of posting here shows, I’ve found it very difficult to juggle this blog with academic research. It’s great to see others working on similar themes. I was especially happy to see how many people wrote about historical women for the Dangerous Women Project. I think this indicates how interested people are in women’s history, and how relevant it is even hundreds of years after the events we study.

The Last Letter of Mary, Queen of Scots

On 8 February 1587, Mary, Queen of Scots was executed at Fotheringhay Castle. She was 44 years old and had been imprisoned for nearly twenty years. She had been informed on 7 February that her sentence was to be carried the next morning and she had spent most of the intervening time at prayer. At 2 in the morning she wrote a letter to her one-time brother-in-law, now Henri III of France. The letter survives and is stored in the National Library of Scotland, in Edinburgh. It can be viewed online here along with a transcription of the French and English translation.

In the letter, Mary claims that she is to die for her faith, that she is innocent of any crimes and asks Henri to provide for her servants. She also wishes him a long and healthy life. He would follow her to the grave less than three years later at the age of 37.

14 October Anniversaries

14 October is a bit of a hotspot for historical anniversaries, many of which are connected to an infamous (or otherwise interesting) lady.

In 1066, William the Conqueror defeated King Harold at the Battle of Hastings. William’s wife Matilda of Flanders is the subject of Matilda: Queen of the Conqueror, a new book by Tracy Borman. (In fact, Matilda is not really infamous at all but was rather pious and good, however her granddaughter was the Empress Matilda who was the first woman to claim the English throne and ended up fighting a bitter twenty year civil war with her cousin Stephen over it.)

Death of King Harold, Bayeux Tapestry

The Battle of Hastings, which took place between the Norman and English armies, took place on Seniac Hill, around six miles away from the Hastings town of Battle. If you are fascinated by history and enjoy learning about infamous women throughout history, why not make yourself drink, sit at your computer and play games like Party Poker while you read through the important historic events which took place on 14 October. Did you known that Empress Matilda was betrothed to Henry V Holy Roman Emperor at the age of seven? One year later she was crowned Queen of Romans and in 1114, at the age of 12, she married the 28 year old Emperor at Mainz.

Other important 14 October events include:

In 1322, Robert the Bruce’s Scots forces routed Edward II’s English army at the Battle of Old Byland. Isabella of France, Edward’s wife, would later lead an invasion of England and depose him in favour of their son.

In 1499, Claude of France was born. I wrote a bit about her here.

In 1586, the trial of Mary, Queen of Scots began.

In 1793, the trial of Marie Antoinette before the Revolutionary Tribunal began.

Trial of Marie Antoinette