Mary, Queen of Scots, had been sent to France at the age of five as part of a marriage agreement with the future Francis II of France. However, their wedding would not take place until 24 April 1558 at the Cathedral of Notre Dame.
The Notre Dame had been embellished with a special structure to make a sort of open-air theatre with a twelve-foot arch inside. The fleur-de-lys was embroidered everywhere it could be embroidered.1
The procession into the cathedral was led by the Swiss guards, quickly followed by Mary’s uncle Francis, Duke of Guise. Then came Eustace du Bellay, the bishop of Paris, followed by a string of musicians dressed in yellow and red. They were followed by a hundred gentlemen-in-waiting to King Henry II of France and the princes of the blood. Then came the bishops and princes of the church, all magnificently dressed. Finally, the groom entered with Antoine of Bourbon, King of Navarre, and his two younger brothers Charles (later King Charles IX of France) and Henry (later King Henry III of France).2
Mary, Queen of Scots, entered with her soon-to-be father-in-law King Henry II and her cousin, the Duke of Lorraine. She wore a white robe, which defied tradition as white was seen as a mourning colour. Her long train was borne by two young girls. Mary also wore diamonds around her neck, and she wore a golden crown with pearls, rubies, sapphires and several other precious stones.3
Behind Mary came her soon-to-be mother-in-law, Catherine de’Medici, with the Prince of Condé and King Henry’s sister Margaret, Duchess of Berry. Several other princesses and ladies also followed. Joan III, Queen of Navarre, also attended with her young son, the future King Henry IV of France.4
The Archbishop of Rouen married the pair with a ring that King Henry II had, only moments before, taken from his own finger. Following the ceremony, the bishop of Paris said Mass with Henry and Catherine on one side and Mary and Francis on the other. When Mass was over, the parade of nobles began again.
The festivities continued with a long banquet during which Mary suffered from the weight of the crown on her head. A ball followed in the afternoon, and afterwards, the court processed to the palace of parliament. Mary travelled in a golden litter with her mother-in-law as Francis followed them on horseback. They had supper at the palace, followed by yet another ball with masks and mummeries.5
Mary later wrote to her mother about her happiness and how much honour Francis and his parents continually do to her.6
The marriage would not last long. Although Francis succeeded his father as King in 1559, he would die just over a year later at the age of 16. Mary was left a widow at the age of 17.