Queens Regent – Mary of Guise

mary guise
(public domain)

A regent is “a person appointed to administer a state because the monarch is a minor, is absent or is incapacitated.”

Mary was born on 22 November 1515 as the daughter of Claude, Duke of Guise and Antoinette of Bourbon. Her first marriage was to Louis II, Duke of Longueville in 1534. They had two sons but only the eldest, Francis, survived infancy. She was widowed in 1537 at the age of just 21. That same year, both the King of England, Henry VIII, and the King of Scotland, James V, were in need of new wife as they both lost their wives. King Francis I, the father of James V’s first bride, accepted the offer of the Scottish King and offered James a dowry as if Mary was a French Princess. Mary, just recently widowed and the mother of a young son, was quite alarmed by the prospect. In the end, she was forced to leave her son behind to become the new Queen of Scots.

She and James had two sons, James, Duke of Rothesay and Robert, Duke of Albany. Both boys died suddenly on 21 April 1541. Marie quickly fell pregnant again, and she gave birth to a daughter, Mary on 8 December 1542. James V died just six days later, shortly after the battle of Solway Moss. Her young daughter was now Queen of Scots. The regency was initially taken up James Hamilton, 2nd Earl of Arran. Naturally, Henry VIII wanted to marry young Mary to his son Edward, but Mary was betrothed to the Dauphin of France and was sent to France to be raised at court in 1548. Marie again had to bid farewell to a child of hers. Marie herself became regent for her daughter in 1554 until her death from dropsy in 1560.

She wanted to make Scotland an entirely independent renaissance country, but the financial situation was always difficult. She stopped the renovations of palaces and sold some of her own belongings. She oversaw legislation designed to boost the economy and protect the Scottish forests, which had been cut down to provide timber for the navy. She spent a lot of time travelling the country, but no matter what she did, she was always a foreigner, and also a woman.

She died on 11 June 1560 with her stepson, James Stewart and the Earl of Argyll by her side. For several months her body rested in a coffin in the chapel of St Margaret in Edinburgh Castle. She was finally laid to rest in the Convent of St Pierre in Reims. Her memorial inside Edinburgh Castle reads:

A lady of honourable conditions, of singular judgement, full of humanity, a great lover of justice, helpful to the poor.1

  1. Clegg, Melanie (2016) Scourge of Henry VIII: The Life of Marie de Guise (UK & US)

About Moniek Bloks 2222 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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