Thursday, April 22, 2010

Off With Her Head, Already!

Meanwhile, those pesky Scots were acting up again. This was called the Ruthven Raid & it resulted in the kidnapping of young James VI for nigh on a yr!

young James VI, King of Scots

Jemmy was now 17 & in no need of a regent, but the Scots just can't let go of that sort of thing, so William Ruthven, Earl of Gowrie, held him captive whilst he ran the joint (& yes, he is related to the peep what stabbed Davie). Jemmy's prob was that he never quite decided for which team he was batting & tho he eventually married & bred & had the occasional GF, most of his favorites were male. He was particularly enamored of his cousin Esme Stewart, whom he created Earl of Lennox (Grandpa had been taken out of the regency stakes yonks ago). Esme got exiled to France b/c they thunk he was a bad influence & a seecrud Catholic. Jemmy finally managed to escape & there was a bit of OFF WITH HIS HEAD & he invited his BFF Esme back posthaste.

This was naught compared to what his Mummy Dearest was up to again. MQOS got herself involved in what's known as the Throckmorton Plot b/c it was run by Sir Francis Throckmorton, a Catholic who wanted to sit her down in Elizabeth's throne & bump off the heretic. Yes, another one of those. Walsingham natch ferreted this out & twas the rack for old Throckmorton, who 'fessed up right quick. Didn't much matter as he was duly convicted of high treason & got a trip to Tower Hill.

C & W glared at Elizabeth & said THIS WENCH HAS GOT TO GO!


Elizabeth said um NO for the 11dy6th time. Philip was threatening to invade England if MQOS didn't remain safe & sound, plus Elizabeth really wasn't fussed w/ the whole off w/ her head thing esp for a queen. Mummy issues, no doubt. Cecil drew up an act to shove thru Parliament what said anyone who'd benefit from Elizabeth's demise would get the axe if there was plotting behind it. Elizabeth said meh OK to that b/c MQOS could be cagey & despite his best efforts Walsingham didn't really have anything solid on which to get her good, & he went round muttering about how wasn't no one safe in England as long as that "devilish woman" drew breath. So he decided he was gonna do something to insure that she ceased doing so.

This is known as the Babington Plot. This un involved assassinating Elizabeth, throning Mary, & 1st Philip was gonna invade to cause chaos & turmoil & stuff.

Philip II, King of Spain

Bess of Hardwick was all YAY b/c after the Throckmorton Plot MQOS got a new jailer & finally ceased draining her finances, so that meant she could get busy on Hardwick Hall. 

Hardwick Hall

W realized isolating MQOS & cutting off her lines of communication was never going to get him any evidence, so he planted a double agent to carry msgs btwn MQOS & the plotters when he found out what was going on. A masterful stroke if I do say so myself, huh? W was good. Pretty soon MQOS was sending a steady stream of ciphered letters to all & sundry, unknowing they landed on Ws desk to be decoded & copied b4 being passed along to the intended peeps. W finally got his mitts on one where she agreed to the assassination of Elizabeth.

Once W had his evidence, he had all the peeps involved arrested & they got the nasty penalty of being hanged, drawn, & quartered, tho Elizabeth rather queasily commuted this to the drawing & quartering bits being done after the hanging had kilt em. A fine afternoon's entertainment was had by all, as W managed to net 14 peeps, incl its instigator, the Catholic Anthony Babington who had once been a page in Shrewsbury's household as a lad & was sucked into Mary's orbit.

The 1st inkling MQOS had of stuff gone wrong was when her sec'y was arrested & removed from her household. She was now imprisoned at Fotheringhay Castle (the birthplace of Richard III so an old Yorkist stronghold), which locale was ironically the closest she ever got to Elizabeth, as tis round 70 mi or so from London.

what's left of Fotheringhay Castle

Her new jailer was Sir Amyas Paulet & he substantially reduced her overflowing household & tore down her cloth of estate & wouldn't let her sit under it any more.

Sir Amyas Paulet

He wasn't gonna be suckered in like Shrewsbury had & let her do what she pleased & have 11dy6 peeps flitting about. She got to keep her sec'y, her priest, & poor Mary Seton, who'd grown old in imprisonment w/ her, & that was pretty much it save for the usual underlings. MQOS whinged to no avail, but when Claude Nau was dragged out for questioning, she began to realize that she might have bigger probs than not being permitte a royal bum-wiper & such.

C & W apprised Elizabeth of the goings-on & she wrote a last irate letter to her cuz berating her for all her plotting, telling Mary flat out that she was an arrogant twit who'd plotted for the last time to take the English queen's life & bring bloodshed & destruction upon the realm. Cecil's act made MQOSs actions treasonous, so Elizabeth informed her that she would stand trial posthaste.

Twas decided it might be too dangerous to move MQOS, so peeps had to travel to Fotheringhay for the trial, which was held in its great hall. Mary had an idiot for a client as she was not permitted to have counsel & had to defend herself.

At 1st she was all pffft dontcha know who I am, I'm the Queen of Scots, I am, & I ain't no English subject despite being trapped here nigh on 20 yrs now, so how dare you peeps think you can even hold a trial on me?

That was greeted w/ a resounding by act of Parliament so shut up unless you got sumfin better to say missy.

So she said, well, I ain't done nuffin wrong & yet my cuz keeps me imprisoned anyway, so why shouldn't I try to escape? It ain't like she's ever gonna let me out!

The ans to that was hmmm, let's see, your own peeps kicked ya to the curb b/c you prolly were complicit in getting rid of DH#2 w/ DH#3s help, then there was the Norfolk thing, the Northern Rebellion thing, the Ridolfi, Throckmorton, & Babington Plots, yeah sure, you're an angel, pull the other leg, it's got bells on.

MQOS insisted she woulda never done any of it if only Elizabeth had treated her nicely, & even when confronted w/ her agreement to Elizabeth's assassination she denied it stoutly b/c twas just a copy & not the original. Then she reminded em of the recent Scots hijinks w/ Jemmy & how peeps up there were complaining he sucked as king & wished they'd kept her & did Elizabeth do anything to help her get her throne back? Um NO! This whole bidness was Elizabeth's fault, not hers. She was being unjustly persecuted b/c she was Catholic & did she not have religious tolerance when she was queen? Pffft!

Not surprisingly, she was convicted posthaste; the trial barely took 2 days from soup to nuts. Tis the axe for you, missy, she was told. "I do not fear to die for a good cause," was her cryptic response to that.

C & W scampered back to London w/ the verdict & drew up Mary's death warrant for Elizabeth to sign.

I think not, was Elizabeth's response to that.

C & W commenced tearing their hair out as the queen did her usual dithering & refused to sign for months, granting MQOS a last BD party (she was born on Dec 8th, the Catholic feast of the Immaculate Conception, hence her name). Elizabeth suggested to Paulet that mayhap he could sneak a smidge of poison into Mary's trifle or something. Paulet said um NO, I ain't going down for this.

Elizabeth sighed & dithered some more. Finally, in February, she signed it. Her sec'y, Sir William Davison, about broke his neck snatching it off the desktop & scurrying over to deliver it into Cecil's hands b4 she changed her mind. Later Elizabeth would insist he sneaked it into a pile of routine papers that she scrawled her John Hancock on sans looking, & wrote him out a Tower Fun Pass for it. Eventually she let him out w/ head intact, tho.

On Feb 7th, MQOS was told by Paulet that she was going to lose her head the next morn. Peeps had to work fast so that Elizabeth wouldn't screw things up at the last min, but twas customary to at least allow a day or 2 to get one's affairs in order, they just didn't haul ya off to the nearest block w/o warning. Just wasn't Christian otherwise, yknow.

MQOS last portrait

Mary busied herself w/ her will (typical that she left it to the last min thinking Elizabeth wouldn't axe her ever) & writing farewell letters to her peeps. At 2am she had a last nap, exhausted & whinging about her rheumatiz & the pain in her side. O BTW tis thought Mary may have had a mild case of porphyria b/c of that side pain, as tis a symptom, & so is her sometimes whacko behavior. Think The Madness of King George.

Come the morn she defiantly dressed in red, the Catholic color of martyrdom, & was escorted by Paulet back into Fotheringhay's great hall, as there was to be no public spectacle & twas strictly black tie & invite only.

Victorian painting by Laslett John Potts,
The Execution of Mary Queen of Scots

She gave her rosary & prayer book to Mary Seton, prayed some, got blindfolded, & laid her head down on the block as she commended her soul to God.

But the axe whack didn't take her head right off.....

The swing of the axe missed her neck entirely & whacked MQOS in the back of the head. Her last recorded words were, "Sweet Jesus!" when that occurred. Who knew you could talk w/ an axe embedded in your skull, huh? Ooops my bad, said the executioner, yanking it out & taking aim again. This time he hit the mark & Mary's head popped right off. Twas traditional for the executioner to pick it up by the hair & display it to the crowd, so he went to do that & ended up w/ a handful of stylin' wig instead while Mary's head rolled across the platform. Tho she'd just turned 44, her own hair was grey & short. Then peeps really began to get creeped out b/c there started to emenate a whimpering sound from her headless corpse. Turned out her fav little doggie had come along under cover of her skirts!

Orders were for the blood to be thoroughly scrubbed up & all the rags & every scrap of clothing worn for the execution (I reckon that incl the wig) was to be burnt so that no one could snag a souvenir. MQOS was to be tumbled into a coffin posthaste & immediately buried sans fuss.

contemporary sketch of MQOSs execution

Once Paulet oversaw this, he sent word to Cecil that the deed was done. Elizabeth freaked out & this is when Davison got his Tower Fun Pass & his role as her scapegoat as she claimed far & wide the whole thing was naught to do w/ her. Peeps wondered if the blue peeps were gonna come over the wall, but Jemmy said meh dinna fash yersel', not like I even remember her. He was now #1 in the heirstakes & wasn't about to irk Elizabeth w/ a retaliatory invasion.

James VI, aged 20, 2 yrs b4
Mummy got the axe

Now Philip, however....

1 comment:

  1. Still having just as much fun the second time around.