The last letter written by Mary, Queen of Scots before her execution is being put for public display by the National Library of Scotland. She wrote the letter just six hours before her execution on 8 February 1587.
The letter has not been on display since 2009, and for preservation reasons, it will only be shown for six hours between 10 am and 4 pm. The entry is free.
The letter is written in French to Henry III, King of France, who was the brother of her first husband, Francis II of France. She writes, “I am to be executed like a criminal at eight in the morning.”
In the letter, she says her “crime” is her loyalty to her Catholic faith which, together with her claim to the English throne, made her a considerable threat to her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. She also writes about her concern for her servants she would be leaving behind.
In the end, she beseeches King Henry to have “prayers offered to God for a queen who has borne the title Most Christian, and who dies a Catholic, stripped of all her possessions”.
National Librarian Dr John Scally said: “The life of Mary Queen of Scots has fascinated people of all ages for generations.
“She is one of Scotland’s most famous monarchs.”
“The National Library is pleased to provide this opportunity to see the last letter she ever wrote only hours before her execution. This is a rare chance to see a remarkable piece of Scottish history.”
Mary, Queen of Scots, was born on 8 December 1542 as the daughter of James V of Scotland and Mary of Guise. She succeeded her father just six days after her birth when he died of an illness shortly after the Battle of Solway Moss. Mary married three times and had a single surviving son by her second husband, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. Her son became James I of England upon the death of Queen Elizabeth I. By then Mary had been dead for 16 years.