The Death of Mary Queen of Scots

The Death of Mary Queen of Scots is in Tudor Books.

It is noteworthy that in her will and in her final requests, Her Majesty wrote some things in a veiled manner, fearing that if the English were to inspect them, they might not fully understand them and might retain them. She declared the interpretation to her servants to convey when they were in France. She also wrote a letter to Monseigneur de Guise, filled with pity and compassion.

She did not seal anything of all that is written above so that her most faithful servants, whom she trusted, could testify about it, and in any case, they would have a duplicate to use if the original was lost. As for her will, she asked how she should conclude and finalize it. On this matter, Mr. Bourgoin asked her not to sign or seal it so soon, as perhaps within two or three hours she might remember something she would regret forgetting. However, with great reluctance, she delayed closing it, saying that she no longer wanted to revisit it or think further about worldly affairs. She declared that she wanted to do nothing more than pray to God and contemplate her conscience. Yet, to her dismay, one of her ladies closed it in a chest again until the morning, with no one knowing what she had written in it.

Later, because her feet were dirty from the remedies applied to them when she had pain, she had them washed. She then lay in her bed for a short time, where no one realized that she had slept but had been in continuous prayer and contemplation.

Her Majesty had established a practice with her ladies to pray to God in the evening in her chamber when all her servants had withdrawn. Very often, they would read from the book of the lives of the saints, and each of them would choose a saint when opening the book, whom they called their "Valentine." Every day, they would say the prayer of that saint before going to bed. It seems that they changed saints every week. One day, she commanded Jane Kennedy to find in the said book the life of a saint who had been a great sinner. After considering several, she settled on the good thief, saying in humility, "He was a great sinner, not as great as myself. I choose him in memory of our Lord's Passion, and I pray to have remembrance and mercy on me, as He had on him at the hour of his death." She had a handkerchief prepared to blindfold her, choosing one of the most beautiful, adorned with gold embroidery.

At daybreak, stating that she had only two hours left to live, she got up and began to dress. Before she had put on all her clothes, Bourgoin, fearing that the absent servants might murmur against him if they were not satisfied with her Majesty's will, and if they believed that something had been added or diminished, pleaded with her to summon them all and have the will read in their presence. This was done, declaring that it was her will, that she had done it of her own accord, that everyone should contribute to its fulfillment, and that she should be patient with what she could expect, hoping they would find friends in her favor.

And then she signed it and placed it in the hands of Bourgoin, instructing him to keep it for delivery to Monsieur the Duke of Guise, her main executor. She also gave him letters to the King, her main papers and records, and gifts for the King, the Queen, and the Queen Mother, with letters of recommendation. The other servants each received various ones from other princes. She entrusted Elspeth Coutle with carrying the letters and papers that Nau had sent to her from the prison in London and showing them to expose his mockery. She had a casket brought, where she had placed her purses, as mentioned above, and by the note she had put inside, indicating to whom it was destined, she distributed them one by one, with no one knowing how much money was in them. It turned out that some had three scudi, others two, others a hundred, some more or less, and the smallest of all had twenty scudi, which was some servant of hers. She did not forget anyone, whether present or absent, giving someone the responsibility for those who were absent. She gave seven hundred lire to give to the poor, two to those in England and five to those in France, which were placed in the hands of her treasurer, and two noble roses for each man to give to the poor in her name. She gave Bourgoin 150 scudi to start covering the expenses of the journey for everyone. Thus, a total of five thousand scudi was distributed, and there were 26 or 27 who received money. She did all this without any emotion, and there was no change in her face, her words, or her demeanor. It only seemed as if she was preparing and organizing her affairs, as if she were moving from one house to another. She said farewell again to her servants, consoled them, admonished them as mentioned above, especially her groom, entrusting him with tasks as mentioned above. While doing this, she finished dressing as neatly as she could.

Being ready, Her Majesty came to her antechamber, in which there was a table set and covered, on which mass was usually celebrated before her priest was secretly removed, and there she knelt down, where she prayed for a long time, reading from a book in French, then saying it in Latin, all the servants around her weeping and praying together. Meanwhile, Mesdemoiselles de Beauregard and de Maubrun realized that Her Majesty had not mentioned them in her will, the only ones forgotten among all. They informed Bourgoin and Gorion to bring it to Her Majesty's attention. She interrupted her prayers, surprised and, taking up her will again, in the first blank margin, she wrote her will, also noting that her chaplain had been forgotten, and she acknowledged the man he was. She replied that he was well rewarded and that she could not give both benefits and money at the same time. But for her reassurance, she wrote in another empty space in her will that her two prebends should be given to him. She resumed her prayers, in which she could not remain on her knees for long. After rising from them, she was invited by her physician Bourgoin to have a little bread and wine, which he had prepared for this purpose. She willingly accepted and, taking very little, thanked him for her last meal, but with such a demeanor that nothing could be seen changed from her usual custom, neither moved nor troubled in the slightest.

Shortly thereafter, while she was again engaged in her prayers, there was a knock at the door. As she had not prayed enough at her own pace, she was told that she would be ready very soon. From this, the English assumed that she would be forcibly dragged to her death, as will be seen later. The two Earls of Shrewsbury and Kent had gone up to a small room on the stairs through which she was to descend. In this room resided Poolet's minister, and they awaited her there along with others. This has led some, who have written about it, to think that the aforementioned Earls had gone to fetch her in her room, where they had not been at all since the day before.

So, after some time, around eight o'clock or a little later, they sent to knock on the door for the second time. As we have been told, they came with men who were tasked to enter and take her by force, thinking that she would refuse to come out. They recalled her significant resistance and refusal against the commissioners when she was to appear before the contentious people, unworthy of her status, as demonstrated in the other account. They believed that she would act similarly when it came to her death. However, far from showing any signs of resistance, as soon as she heard the knock on the door, she wanted to get up, still on her knees in prayer, to leave. But she was restrained and asked to stay until the English had entered. It was not inappropriate for them to find her in this state of prayer, and they should see what she was doing to avoid, as much as possible, their calumnies, of which they never fall short.

The door being opened, the Sheriff, whom we call the Provost, enters alone, a white rod in hand. Upon his arrival, neither Her Majesty nor any of her servants, all kneeling, moved from their places, continuing their prayers with her. He came quite close to where she was, at the end of the room, without speaking or making any other motion. He looked at her, as did all the others praying, without moving. After staying in this state for some time, without Her Majesty having seen or noticed him, almost as if surprised, he says these words, 'Madam, the Lords have sent me to you,' without any other words. She, perceiving him, turned towards him and suddenly rose from her prayers, saying, 'Yes, let's go.

And as Bourgoin helped her to rise, she asked if she would approve of being presented with this small wooden cross, which was with a crucifix of ivory and usually remained on the altar. She had great affection for it, saying, 'You have done me a great favor by reminding me of it; it was my intention.' She kissed it and then gave it to Annibal to carry in front of her. Immediately, she headed towards the door, supported by Bourgoin on one side. He, standing in the middle of the room, unable to bear the regret he felt about handing her over to the executioners, said, 'Madam, Your Majesty knows with what affection and good will we have served you, and we are still ready to employ ourselves for you as your very obedient and very affectionate servants. But, if it pleases you to excuse us, it is not fitting for us to lead you to the place where you are going and deliver you into the hands of your enemies. Otherwise, since it is God's permission and the force of men that you depart from this world, we will follow you with a very good heart and assist you until the last breath, fully prepared to endure that with you.' She said, 'You are right,' and addressing her words to the Sheriff who was walking ahead, she said, 'My servants do not want to lead me to death. I cannot walk well without help. Please have someone assist me a little.'

Immediately, two of Poolet's servants, who were waiting at the door (as it is thought), ready to forcibly take her if she resisted, entered. Her servants walked with her, some in front, others behind, all crying, without her showing any emotion. Instead, she reproached and criticized them for their inconsistency and weakness until they reached the door of the room, where they were stopped and prevented from going any further or accompanying her further. Then her servants insisted and argued firmly to accompany her, some on one side, some on the other. If it had been possible, both men and women would have used force. They argued that it was not permissible to take her away without someone with her; it was not the way for princesses to go alone. They asked what they intended to do now, as for 19 years, she had never left a place without someone to assist her. There was no apparent reason to make her die without her servants being present and witnesses to their actions; otherwise, it would be judged that they intended to exercise some heinous cruelty, which they wanted to conceal and did not want anyone to know. Bourgoin spared no effort, thinking he had more influence than the others. Seeing that he was flatly refused and unable to advance anything by friendship, prayers, or speaking aloud, he asked to speak to the Earls to obtain permission, which he was sure they would not refuse. Finally, whatever they could do, they could not obtain anything, were forcibly prevented, and pushed back into the room with threats and bad words. The good Princess said nothing more, except that they were wrong to prevent her servants from assisting in her death, and this as gently as possible. Certainly, she and her servants were very afraid at that time that the intention of the English might be very bad, as she had previously suspected. They replied that four had been appointed to be there, and they would come for them afterward. After a very long debate, no one was allowed to leave; they were all sent back into the room. I think all this was done to prevent anyone from hearing what she would say to Mr. Melvin, her master of the household, whom they had brought down the stairs to speak with her, as both had desired.

Observing this, her Majesty took the cross from Annibal's hands, held it in one hand, and in the other, she carried her prayer beads and handkerchief. Seeing that there was no remedy to save her, all the servants increased their tears and regrets, took their leave, kissed her hands, some touching her robe, asking for forgiveness. She, embracing them, was forced to let them go, and they had to re-enter the room, after which the door was closed. Then, with cries and lamentations, everyone knelt down, began to pray, with a horror accompanied by sighs and sobs. Their eyes shed abundant tears, awaiting nothing but the report that she was dead. She was taken away all alone, and descending the grand staircase, she met the Earls and others who had come out of the small room where the minister was waiting, and they escorted her to the bottom of the stairs. There, they had brought Mr. Melvin, the Scottish master of the household, who had been separated from her for about three weeks, along with her chaplain. He had not spoken with her since. Wanting to say goodbye and expressing his regrets and condolences, as a man of wit and understanding, he embraced her and bore witness to his loyalty. According to the English, he recommended her son, the King, to remain faithful and Catholic, commanding him to faithfully report everything he would see in his behaviors. When Mr. Melvin told her that it would be the most painful message he would ever have to deliver, to report that his Queen, sovereign, and mistress would be dead, she told him that he should rejoice, seeing that the end of the troubles of Mary Stuart had now come. She said, "You know, Melvin, that all this world is but vanity, full of troubles and miseries. Take these news, that I die a Catholic, firm in my religion, a Scottish woman, a true Frenchwoman. May God forgive those who desired my end. The one who is the true judge of the secrets, thoughts, and actions of men knows well my intention. My desire has always been that Scotland and England be united. Recommend me to Him and tell Him that I have done nothing that could harm the kingdom, the state of a king, or the quality of a sovereign prince, nor have I derogated from anything that could affect or draw consequences from our prerogative and superiority. I have been forced by the hand of enemies. It is worth noting that the Queen was not accustomed to using the term "Tu" when speaking to anyone.

Her Majesty, having finished with Mr. Melvin, requested that her servants be allowed to come down to see her die. She asked for forgiveness for her secretary Curle and requested permission and release for her servants to go away safely. On the last requests, it is said that Poolet replied that he thought they would be granted. However, regarding the presence of her servants at her death, the Earls, entering into conference, asked her which ones she wanted, up to the number of four or five. She named Bourgoin, Gorion, Gervais, and Didier, along with two girls, Miss Jeanne Kennedy and Elspeth Curle. For the latter two, her Majesty had more difficulty obtaining permission, as the Earls argued that it was not customary for women to attend such a spectacle. They believed it could lead to crimes and troubles, suggesting that the women might be so ceremonious that they would want to dip their handkerchiefs in her blood, which would be scandalous. In response, her Majesty stated that they would not do anything of the sort, and she was confident that the Queen of England, who was a maiden (the word "maiden" used by her Majesty means "pucelle" or maiden in French), would not be so severe as to deny the girls the opportunity to see a Queen die or assist her in her death. Thus, defeated and after consulting together, the aforementioned individuals were sent for, and they were with the others in prayer. Upon their arrival, they thought she had already died, but when they descended into the hall, they found that they were only just beginning to read her sentence.

In the lower hall of Fotheringhay Castle, located in the province of Northampton, about 25 French leagues from the city of London, where Her Majesty had been brought with few of her servants in the month of September before her death, a scaffold was erected, about two and a half feet high and twelve feet square, covered with English frieze, known as "cotton," the best of which costs ten or 12 pennies per yard, equivalent to as many French écus. One ascended it by a small ladder made of wood for that purpose. On top, a small seat was placed for Her Majesty in the middle of the scaffold. On one side, the two Earls, Beale and the Sheriff, were seated, with both executioners. Around it, there were some barriers, Poolet behind, and all the others, including gentlemen, judges, and officers of Elizabeth, along with Poolet's guards, totaling about two hundred and fifty or two hundred, who were below around the scaffold. Her servants were appointed to climb onto a platform against the wall about two steps away from the scaffold. The two girls remained on their knees below. The castle doors were closed, and no one could enter except those named above. From the staircase of the chamber, at the bottom of which Her Majesty had stayed for some time, as mentioned above, one entered into the said hall. There, Mr. Melvin, holding the train of her robe, led her to the scaffold. Upon ascending it, without any astonishment, she sat on the small seat prepared for this purpose, and immediately she was raised by Beale, the commissioner, as mentioned above.

After her sentence or commission had been read, Her Majesty made the sign of the cross, as she had done the day before, and with a joyful countenance, her face in its lively and natural color, her gaze and look unwavering, without any change. Her beauty more apparent than ever, with remarkable constancy and accustomed majesty, she began to speak with firm words and beautiful gravity:

"My Lords, I am a born Queen, a sovereign Princess, and not subject to the laws, a close relative of the Queen and the legitimate heir to England. After being unjustly held prisoner in this country for a long time, where I have endured much pain and suffering without any right over me, now, by the force of men and under their power, ready to end my life, I thank my God that He has allowed me to die for my religion. He has granted me this grace that before dying, I have been before a company who will witness that I die Catholic, and that, well prepared for my death, I have protested, as I have always done, both privately and publicly."

"As for the charge of the Queen's death, I never invented, consented, or did anything against her person. I have always loved her, and the country too. I have offered, on many good and more than reasonable conditions, to end the troubles of this kingdom and free myself from this captivity. You, my Lords, and you, Beale, know this well without my hearing, knowing, or receiving. In the end, my enemies have achieved their aims to make me die. Nevertheless, I forgive them with all my heart, and I forgive anyone who has done or attempted anything against me, and to everyone, whoever they may be, who might have offended or wronged me. As I pray that all may forgive me."

"After my death, it will be seen and understood for what purpose those who are authors and pursuers of causing me to leave this world have sought and procured my death. I accuse no one, as I have not done before; my tongue will harm no one."

And while she was still speaking, whether they had a desire to silence her for fear that she might say something unpleasant or disadvantageous to them if she spoke the truth, or whether they wanted to hasten her death, fearing that some impediment might arise and hinder their eager desire, Master Fletcher, Dean of Peterborough, appeared at the lower end of the scaffold. Speaking as loudly as he could, he began to say the following words: "Madam, the Queen, my sovereign lady and mistress, has commanded me to come here before you." With great difficulty, he uttered so many words until Her Majesty turned towards him, saying loudly, "Mr. Dean, I have no need of you. I do not want to hear you. You can be silent if you wish. Withdraw from here." Having been thus interrupted, and wanting to repeat for the second time the same words he intended to continue in his speech, Her Majesty said to him, "You gain nothing; I will not silence you. Be silent if you wish," and saying this, she turned her back on him.

The Dean, seeing that she had turned away, changed his position to be on the other side of the scaffold, where the Earls were in front of her. I think he intended to resume speaking, but as soon as Her Majesty saw this, she turned her back again. Upon this, the Earl of Shrewsbury said, "Madam, I am sorry that you are so devoted to this folly of Popery. Allow us to pray for you." She replied that she was Catholic and wanted to die as such, and that their prayers did not serve her much. The Earl of Kent, who had acted as the minister before, as if intending to continue, said, "Madam, this image of Christ will be of little use to you if you do not have it engraved in your heart."

Immediately, the Dean began prayers in his language, following the form of those found at the end of the seven Penitential Psalms recited in the Catholic Church. Each of the Lords and attendants responded together, verse by verse. Among them, the Earl of Shrewsbury was noted for moving his head with great emotion and making gestures with his whole body, responding almost as if in spite. Their prayers were for God to grant Her Majesty true repentance for the acknowledgment of her sins, so that she might die in His fear, and to bless their Queen, allowing her to reign long above all, confound her enemies, preserve their religion, etc. Observing that they had begun to pray, Her Majesty, still with her back turned towards the minister and the Earls, her face towards the lower door leading towards the officers, knelt down and said her prayers aloud as much as she could in Latin. They all prayed together, but the Queen recited her prayers in Latin according to the Catholic Church, while the others, in English, followed the Lutheran tradition. Most of Her Majesty's prayers were from the Penitential Psalms of David, such as Miserere mei Deus, In te, Domine, speravi, Qui habitat in adiutorio, all of which she recited from memory. As soon as the English had finished their prayers, Her Majesty, without moving and continuing, offered additional prayers in English that everyone could easily hear. A profound silence filled the room, with everyone attentively listening. Many were moved to pity and regret, seeing her strike her chest with such deep emotion and kiss her cross with such devotion. Some could not hold back tears, while others restrained themselves for fear of suspicion. At this moment, her servants knelt down to pray to God with her, something they had refrained from doing before when the English were praying.

Her Majesty prayed to God, asking that He send His Holy Spirit to help her understand, at the hour of her death, the mysteries of His passion. She prayed for illumination, perseverance, and steadfastness in the faith, as well as the grace to endure patiently the punishment prepared for the Catholic Church. Her prayers extended to the unity and peace of all Christendom, harmony among Christian princes, the restoration of the true religion in the Isle of England for the comfort of afflicted Catholics, their perseverance in loyalty, and constancy in martyrdom. She implored God to withdraw His anger from the island. She prayed for the Pope, pastors, and ministers of the Church, for all Catholic monarchs and princes, for her enemies, for the Queen of England, and for her son. She humbly excused herself before God, acknowledging her unworthiness to pray for others or to be heard, expressing profound humility and recognizing herself as a great sinner. She invoked God's mercy and grace for the remission of her sins, hoping to be saved through the death and passion of Jesus Christ, by the blood of the immaculate lamb shed for sinners. She expressed her willingness to pour out her own blood at the feet of the crucified Christ if He deemed her worthy to receive it. Throughout, she spoke with great vehemence and affection, moving all those present, and, despite the emotional intensity, she did not faint. Occasionally, a small sob emerged as she passionately repeated the phrase "O Lord God" whenever she began a new aspect of her prayer, emphasizing her zeal for the matter at hand.

Finally, she prayed to the Virgin Mary and all the saints, mentioning some specifically like St. Peter and St. Andrew, asking for their intercession before God. She kissed her cross, occasionally crossing her hands, and spoke these words: "Just as, my God, Your arms were extended on the living cross, receive me between Your arms of mercy, extend Your mercy, and forgive me all my sins." She performed these actions with such intensity that all who saw her were in awe, as they themselves attest. Once she was helped up, she sat on her small stool, and the Earls wanted to talk or discuss matters with her. They suggested that if she knew any secrets about current affairs, she should reveal them. She replied that she had said enough on that matter and was not disposed to speak further. Shortly thereafter, she stood up, and the Master of the Works approached to undress her. She told him, "Let me do it; I understand this better than you. I have never had such valets." As she began removing the pins from her attire, known as the two girls, Jeanne Kennedy and Elspeth Curle, who were below kneeling and crying, climbed onto the scaffold. She said to them, "Do not cry anymore; I am happy to leave this world. You should rejoice to see me die for such a good cause. Aren't you ashamed to cry? If you cry more, I will send you away because I promised for you." Elspeth Curle then pleaded for her brother, for whom she had knelt before her Majesty many times, seeking his pardon. Knowing and having heard her brother's testimony against the Queen in public assembly, with gratitude for her persistent efforts on behalf of her brother, she affirmed that she had spoken for him, and the Earl of Kent assured that he would be fine.

Thus, Her Majesty helped herself to undress, which she had rarely been accustomed to do when going to bed or removing her clothing. She removed from around her neck a gold cross that she intended to give to one of her daughters. Addressing the Executioner, she said, "My friend, this doesn't suit your taste; leave it for this young lady. She will pay you more for it than it's worth." He forcibly snatched it from her hands, saying, "It is my right." It would have been a marvel if she had found courtesy in an English executioner, something she had never been able to find among the more honest people of the country, except inasmuch as they could profit from it. The Earl of Shrewsbury and his wife are too confident witnesses to this, being two principal instruments in her death. Her garments were among the finest she owned, yet modest, representing a queen dressed according to her station. She had sought advice on them from her confessor and all her servants the evening before, being so fearful of doing anything that could be reproached as dishonorable. In the first place, she wore a veil of white crepe, covering her from the head and trailing on the ground, with a coif of the same fabric that she was accustomed to wear when dressing in her finest attire, for more solemn festivities or when receiving foreign guests. She had on a large black embossed satin mantle with borders of high-quality marten fur, lined with black taffeta. The sleeves hung down with a long train, and the collar was in the Italian fashion. She also wore a black satin doublet, a crimson-brown velvet skirt, a velvet bodice with a velvety taffeta trim, white fustian drawers, blue silk stockings, silk garters, and Morocco leather shoes.

She was stripped of all these garments down to her petticoat, and as they removed her doublet, the undersleeves of the said petticoat were also drawn off. Left with only her chemise on her arms, she pulled up her sleeves herself. Then she sat on her stool, and Jeanne Kennedy, her damsel, approached. From her pocket, she took out a specially prepared handkerchief adorned with gold and blindfolded her (the Earls and other onlookers not knowing why she did this, as if it were not the custom of the country). But before accepting it, she had given her blessing to her servants, who, seeing her in tears, bid them farewell and asked them to pray to God for her.

Execution of Mary Queen of Scots

08 Feb 1587. Her Majesty (age 44), as well as her attendants, thought that they intended to sever her head in the French manner, with a sword. Thus, while she was sitting, assuming that this was how they would proceed, she held herself rigidly, extending her neck with joined hands, without being bound in any way. Clutching her crucifix, which she never let go of, she recited aloud, "In te, Domine speravi," and so on, with great fervor. Then, the two executioners took her, one on each side, by the shoulders, and made her kneel. Wanting to lay her down, and she, expecting the blow, extended her neck as if singing, continuously praying to God. They continued to lay her down on her stomach the length of her body, making her place her neck on a block prepared for this purpose, towards the end of the scaffold. Having placed their hand under her chin, perhaps to allow her to speak freely, it was removed for fear that it might be cut off with her head. The master executioner, wielding a wide axe with a blade like those used to split wood, delivered a blow as she loudly said, "In manus tuas." This poorly aimed blow only touched the back of her head and did not penetrate deeply. He struck again for the second time, cutting a significant portion of the neck, which he finished severing on the third attempt.

It was not enough; even at the moment of death, they did not refrain from cruelty. For, suppose the case that she did not lack the will, was it not a great fault and an extreme contempt to allow her to use such an instrument totally unsuitable for this purpose, and that they would not have wanted to use for the lowest servant in their country? If it's the fault of the executioner, should he not be punished? Did the person's status not merit it? But they were not much moved by it. It seemed to them to be a small torment in comparison to what they inflict and martyr on other Catholics. The severed head, he took it by the coif, which slipped off, revealing her white and hairless head, which she often had removed due to the headaches she suffered. After putting back the said coif, he lifted the head, showed it to the audience, saying, 'God save the Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth.' The Earl of Kent said, 'May all her enemies have the same fate.'

Immediately, everyone was ordered to leave the room. Then Mr. Bourgoin and the surgeon asked Poole to let them remove the heart to take it to France, as her Majesty had requested and ordered. They were rudely rebuffed with disdainful and threatening words. The servants, led back to her Majesty's chamber, in sorrow, crying, lamenting, and all together praying, and there was not one to whom words did not fail several times, wanting to compose or recite some prayer for her. The sobs, sighs, and tears that came prevented them from uttering a word rightly. Meanwhile, everyone was made to leave the room, and the place where the blood had fallen was carefully washed and cleaned, fearing that someone might dip some fabric into it, as is the custom of many in the country who keep it as evidence, inciting those who have an interest in the death to seek vengeance. A small dog was found in her clothing, which had followed her down, and a great Princess of France wanted to have it for the sake of the deceased. Her body and her belongings were taken to the upper room where her Majesty had appeared before the commissioners.

After the execution was carried out, the castle gates were kept closed, and no one was allowed to leave until dispatches were prepared to be sent to the Court. So, around one hour after midday, Henry Talbot, son of the Earl of Shrewsbury, was sent with a certificate of her Majesty's death, in the following form and the same terms.

First, after she was brought downstairs by the Provost to the place prepared in the hall for this purpose, by the command of us, the Earl of Shrewsbury, and Kent, her Majesty's commission was publicly read. Then, according to its contents, our doctor Fletcher, making a representation aiming at the admonition of the end of her days, the only means of elevation to Jesus Christ, as soon as he began to speak, she interrupted him, saying that she was Catholic, and that it was mere folly. She was so resolved and determined not to convert in any way, and although our prayers might not do her much good, nevertheless, there was a prayer that was pronounced by the whole assembly, asking God, if it was His will, to send His Holy Spirit and true repentance, and to bless her Majesty (understood as the Queen of England) and confound her enemies. During this time, she made superstitious crosses with a pair of rosaries and also prayed aloud. When the Dean had finished, she publicly pronounced a prayer to this effect, namely, she begged God to send His Holy Spirit and hoped for her salvation in His blood, and by His grace, to be received into His kingdom, praying God to forgive her enemies as she forgave them, and to turn His wrath away from this island, and to bless the Majesty of the Queen so that she might serve Him similarly. She asked for mercy for her son and compassion for His afflicted Church, and even though she was not worthy of being heard, she still had confidence in His mercy, asking all the saints to pray to her Savior to receive her. After turning towards her servants, she asked them to pray to God, her Savior, for her, that He would receive her. Then, after a request was made by the executioners, she forgave them, telling them she was happy that the end of all her troubles was so near. Then she did not appreciate the moans and tears of her women, telling them that they should rather thank God for her great resolution. Kissing them, she told them to leave the scaffold, and again with a cross in her hands, she turned towards her servants, bid them farewell, and thus resolved, knelt down. With a handkerchief tied around her eyes, she laid her neck down, upon which the executioner proceeded, she repeating these words, 'In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum,' and some other verse from the Psalms. And as a testimony that this is the truth, we have subscribed with our own hands these present, at the castle of Fotheringhay, on the 8th day of February, in the 29th year of the reign of our sovereign Lady and Queen Elizabeth, by the grace of God, of England, France, and Ireland, defender of the faith. Signed, George de Shrewsbury, Henry Renil, Robert Beale, A. Poolet, Droue Drouorie, Thomas Andromes, Robert Rynest, Eduoard Montagu Tho. Wingked, Rob. Breuolly, Tho. Braduoel, B. Ligot, Rob. Winkfield, James Cnolle, Rob. Forest."

Execution of Mary Queen of Scots

On 08 Feb 1587 Mary Queen of Scots (age 44) was beheaded in the Great Hall at Fotheringay Castle, Northamptonshire [Map].

George Talbot 6th Earl of Shrewsbury (age 59), Henry Grey 6th Earl Kent (age 46), Richard Knightley (age 54) and Henry Wriothesley 3rd Earl of Southampton (age 13) witnessed her execution.

There are few extant original sources describing Mary's execution. Those that do exist are somewhat contradictory. They include The letter-books of Sir Amias Poulet, Keeper of Mary Queen of Scots, the Calendar of State Papers, Spain (known as the Simancas), Volume 4, 1587-1603 and Beale's sketch of the execution. The most reliable primary source appears to be Jebb's De vita et rebus gestis serenissimæ principis Mariæ Scotorum Reginæ published in French.

The Letter Books of Amias Paulet Keeper of Mary Queen of Scots Published 1874 Marys Execution. Several narratives of the execution exist. The most complete, attributed to Bourgoin, is printed in Jebb. Sir H. Ellis and Robertson print the official report of the Commissioners. Then there is Chateauneuf's Report to Henry III, February 27, 1587, N.S., in Teulet, and a narrative drawn up for Burghley by R. W. (Richard Wigmore). Blackwood also furnishes an interesting and trustworthy description. The anonymous Vray Rapport will be found in Teulet. Mr. Froude appears to have selected it, partly because it was possible to expand the Realistic description of the dissevered head, and in particular the inevitable contraction of the features, into the gross and pitiless caricature which he permits himself of the poor wreck of humanity; partly too, because the Vray Rapport, in direct contradiction to the other accounts, supports his assertion that Mary was "dreadfully agitated" on receiving the message of death from the two Earls. To convey the impression that the writer was bodily present on that occasion, Mr. Froude introduces him as "evidently an eye-witness, one of the Queen of Scots' own attendants, probably her surgeon." But the narrative shows us that the writer, whoever he was, could not have been one of Mary's attendants, nor even acquainted with them, for he designates the two ladies who assisted their mistress at the scaffold as "deux damoiselles, I'une Francoise nommee damoiselle Ramete, et l'autre Escossoise, qui avait nom Ersex." There were no such names in Mary's household. The two ladies were both Scottish, Jane Kennedy and Elspeth Curie, Gilbert Curle's sister. Mr. Froude says, "Barbara Mowbray bound her eyes with a handkerchief." It was Jane Kennedy who performed for her this last service.

Poulet's inventory, amongst other things, contains the following entry: "Memorandum that the Priest claimeth as of the said late Queen's gift, a silver chalice with a cover, two silver cruets, four images, the one of our Lady in red coral, with divers other vestments and necessaries belonging to a Massing Priest." When the scaffold had been taken away, the Priest was allowed to leave his room and join the rest of the household. On the morning after the execution he said Mass for Mary's soul; but on the afternoon of that day Melville and Bourgoin were sent for by Poulet, who gave orders that the altar should be taken down, and demanded an oath that Mass should not be said again. Melville excused himself as he was a Protestant and not concerned; the physician stoutly refused. Poulet sent for the Priest, and required the coffer in which the vestments were kept to be brought to him. Du Preau, who was evidently a timid man, took the oath that Poulet insisted on, little thinking that he was pledging himself for six months. "II jura sur la bible de ne faire aucune office de religion, craignant d'estre resserre en prison".