5 December – Mary Queen of Scots’ husband dies of an ear infection and Anne Cecil’s unhappy marriage
Posted By joelridg on December 5, 2021
On this day in Tudor history, 5th December 1560, King Francis II of France, died at the age of just 15. Francis was King Consort of Scotland, as the husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, and his father had also proclaimed him and Mary as King and Queen of England back in 1558!
He was taken ill in mid-November with what appears to have been an ear infection, and it led to him dying on this day in history. His death led to Mary, Queen of Scots, returning to her homeland of Scotland, a country she hadn’t seen for 13 years.
Find out more about Francis II of France, his marriage to Mary, Queen of Scots, his death and what happened next, in this talk…
Also on this day in Tudor history, 5th December 1556, Anne de Vere was born, She was the daughter of William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, and his second wife, Mildred Cooke.
Anne only lived until she was 31 years old, but in her short life she managed to impress scholars, have five children, and have a rather eventful and unhappy marriage with Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, who didn’t treat her at all well and even refused to recognise their first daughter as his own, at one point. If only she had married Philip Sidney instead!
Find out more about Anne in this video…
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Mary Queen of Scots was widowed at 18 and had to leave France for the homeland she had had fled when she was just six years old. Her marriage to Francis ii had lasted just over two years and had been tranquil. They were well matched and had shown each other affection. Francis was probably not cut out to be King but his mother had reigned for him anyway. Mary had lost her own mother while in France and was deeply affected by that loss. True this was a dynastic marriage but Mary and Francis shared much in common and had the leisure time to get to know one another well. She was pampered in France, although there was a deep rivalry with her stern and hard to please mother in law, Catherine de Medici.
Catherine even had a hard time yielding to her daughter in law in matters of precedence. Mary complained that Catherine tried to push her out of the way going through doors. However, Catherine was forced to accept that Mary was Queen and there was nothing she could do about it.
Francis was now dead from an infection of the inner ear, bleeding most probably into his brain. Mary was devastated. She now had to return to Scotland and that was something she wasn’t looking forward to. France was her home, her ways where French, her education French, her language French as well as Gaelic and everything she knew French. Mary was Catholic and her country had been dragged into the Protestant Reformation in her absence. The Court was unsophisticated and although the Royal Apartments at Stirling resembled a French Chateau, partly thanks to Marie de Guise, many of the palaces and castles where not as luxurious as those of France. Scotland was wealthy and not unsophisticated but she had given up much with the Reformation. The ways of the Congregation where stern and simple and Scotland was run by her half brother, James. On the rise in Edinburgh was a fiery preacher and misogynist, John Knox who hated the Catholic Church and hated women being in charge to boot. He had been banished to the galleys by Mary’s mother and he was no lover of the French Queen Mother. He wasn’t too fussy on Mary either and began to preach against her even before she left Paris. He feared the Mass and he had no idea just what sort of ruler to expect. In fact Mary was tolerant. She had seen persecution in France and found it unsavoury and cruel. As long as her mainly Evangelical Presbyterian countrymen obeyed her in other ways she was content to allow them to worship as they pleased. All she asked was the right to practice in private and for anyone who wished to say Mass to be free in private also. She allowed Knox to preach as long as he didn’t preach sedition or treason and she was more than ready to confront him if he did. He was also to be a member of her Council and she didn’t remove him for two years. She also sought his advice on divorce from Lord Darnley, her second husband.
But for now Mary was 18 and free. She would return home and rule.. A new agreement was drawn up. Mary had one problem. Safe passage around England, the country which had tried to kidnap her as a child. Now her cousin, a woman, sat on the throne. Mary, her other cousin, had recently died and she was Catholic as well. England had returned to the Catholic Faith and remained so for a time into the reign of Elizabeth, herself ambiguous about religion. Elizabeth was raised an Anglican, not a Protestant. There was no such thing in England. There would not be any such thing until the end of the century. There were a million versions of reformed Christians but not the Protestants of the Germanic States. There where Calvanists, Puritans, Church of England, none Conformist of all kinds, Evangelical, Catholic, etc. Few of them or the rest where Lutherans and this would remain the case for some time. Even with her Religious Settlement, it took ten years to define true Religion in the reign of Elizabeth I. Mary didn’t know what to expect from her cousin, but she was cautious. Mary had a reason to approach Elizabeth with caution. Elizabeth in her eyes was illegitimate and Mary had a legitimate claim to the throne of England. She styled herself Queen of England as well as Scotland and Queen Consort of France. That didn’t sit well with Elizabeth, yet she was going to approach Mary with welcome and warmth. Mary wanted safe passage guaranteed. She had to sail past England to get home. She asked for an escort. Mary wrote to Elizabeth with affection and warmth and sisterhood. Elizabeth did the same but didn’t grant safe passage. In fact Mary lost some of her ships on English soil, together with her fine white horses and Elizabeth captured these. They were returned but only after Mary was back in Scotland and had asked for them. It wasn’t a great start.