She spent much of her reign at the royal palaces in Edinburgh, Stirling, Linlithgow and Falkland, but she travelled widely too. She conducted royal business across Scotland. In 1562, 1565 and 1568 she led military campaigns against Scottish rebels. She also travelled widely for pleasure: to hunt, to attend weddings and to pay visits to favoured subjects.
‘Throughout her personal reign, Mary travelled a great deal. A key purpose of travel was the royal progress: a recognised means of meeting subjects and fostering their loyalty.’ ("Mary Was Here", page 52)
‘Mary travelled mainly on horseback. Most thoroughfares were unsuitable for vehicles. She was an accomplished horsewoman, and had brought her favourite horses with her from France.’ ("Mary Was Here", page 52)
‘Mary took relish in her role as a military commander. She wore a pistol in her belt and a steel helmet on her head. For his part, Darnley sported a gilt breastplate.’ ("Mary Was Here", page 68)
‘She went into labour on 19th June, and by all accounts it was a long and painful process. In the absence of gas and air, Margaret, Countess of Atholl, took it upon herself to try witchcraft.’ ("Mary Was Here", page 76)
‘The Earl of Ruthven, who had conducted her to Lochleven, was sent away after falling for her. Sir William Douglas’s younger brother George was also smitten, and secretly swore to serve her.’ ("Mary Was Here", page 97)
Mary, Queen of Scots is one of the most famous and controversial figures in Scottish history.
Her story arouses strong emotions: was she betrayed by those she trusted, condemned to die a Catholic martyr or was she a murdering adulteress with her husband’s blood on her hands?
Shown only in Edinburgh, the Mary Queen of Scots exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore Mary’s epic story, and to discover an array of rare treasures never before seen together.
Did the exhibition make you want to find out more about Mary? Or did you miss the chance to visit, and want to discover her past? The National Museum of Scotland has a wide range of information, including a number of collections stories that bring her history to life.