Mary was the daughter of James V of Scotland and his French queen, Mary of Guise. For a short period (1559-61) she also became Queen of France.

Her claim to the English throne was based on the argument that Elizabeth was illegitimate, since her father's marriage to Anne Boleyn had been illegal in the eyes of the Catholic Church. Mary's refusal to deny this claim during her long years of imprisonment in England was a constant thorn in the side of Elizabeth and her government.

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