1568: Mary leaves Scotland


Mary escaped from Lochleven after ten months of captivity and raised an army to win back her crown. However, she was defeated at the battle of Langside on 13th May and forced to flee to the Catholic South-West of Scotland. Some advised her to raise another army, others to flee for safety in France.

Mary eventually decided to go to England assuming Elizabeth would help her regain her throne. She crossed the Solway in a small fishing boat on 16th May. She would never see Scotland again.

    1568: Mary's imprisonment begins

Elizabeth I

Mary arrived on the Cumberland coast with sixteen followers, no horses and no money. All she had was a faith in God and a belief that her cousin, Elizabeth I, would help her to regain her Scottish throne.

She was conducted first to Carlisle Castle and then to Bolton Castle in Yorkshire. At both places Mary demanded to see Queen Elizabeth, but was told that she first needed to be cleared of charges brought against her by Moray that she was guilty of Darnley's murder. In the meantime, Mary was to be kept in custody and carefully watched.

    1568: The Casket Letters

Earl of Moray
  Moray, anxious to secure his position as Regent in Scotland, produced eight letters, almost certainly forged, that seemed to prove that Mary and Bothwell had planned Darnley's murder.
    1569: The Rising of the Northern Earls

Duke of Norfolk

The danger of Elizabeth's policy of keeping Mary alive but in captivity was soon revealed by a Catholic rebellion in the North. This was led by the Earls of Northumberland and Westmorland and involved a plan to marry Mary to the Duke of Norfolk, the most powerful nobleman in England.

The aims of the rebellion were to overthrow Elizabeth, place Mary on the throne and so make England Catholic again.

    1570: Elizabeth I excommunicated

Pope Pius V
  Pope Pius V made an order that Elizabeth was now expelled from the Catholic Church. This released all Catholics in England from vows of loyalty to the Queen and so raised the real possibility of rebellion or assassination. In the event, most Catholics would remain loyal to Elizabeth but no one knew this for sure in 1570.
    1571: The Ridolfi Plot

Ridolfi was an Italian banker with powerful connections in Europe. As in 1569, the aim of the plot was to release Mary and marry her to Norfolk, this time using a Spanish invasion force to overthrow Elizabeth. Fortunately, the plot was discovered.

Norfolk, lucky to escape punishment in 1569, was now tried and executed for treason. When it was reported that Mary herself had been involved in the plot, Parliament pleaded with Elizabeth to deal with her in the same way.