1560: Deaths of Mary of Guise and Francis II

Mary in 1560
  A disastrous year for Mary. Without her husband, she no longer ruled France and was forced to return to Scotland. Without her mother, she would be left alone to rule a country she hardly knew.
    1561: Mary returns to Scotland

John Knox
  Mary was cheered all the way from Leith to Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh. However, John Knox, the Protestant leader, proclaimed that no good would come of a Catholic Queen coming to a Protestant country.
    1565: Marriage to Lord Darnley

Lord Darnley

Mary fell in madly in love, but Darnley was a poor choice for a husband. He was arrogant and lazy and given to fits of jealousy. When Mary became pregnant, Darnley convinced himself that her secretary, David Riccio, was the father.

One evening, Darnley and a group of friends seized Riccio and murdered him. Mary was forced to watch. A possible reason for this was that the conspirators hoped that Mary, six months pregnant, would be shocked into a miscarriage from which she herself might die.

She later recovered to punish all those involved. No action was taken against Darnley - for the moment.

    1566: Birth of James VI
  Mary's son is born in Edinburgh Castle. Elizabeth seemed to resent Mary's good fortune: "The Queen of Scots is lighter of a fair son, while I am but a barren stock".
    1567: Murder of Darnley

In the early morning of Monday, 10th February, an explosion blew up the house at Kirk o' Field in Edinburgh where Darnley was recovering from an illness. He himself was found strangled in the garden of the house.

Although later accused of involvement in the murder, it is unlikely that Mary knew it was going to happen. Suspicion at the time fell upon the Earl of Bothwell, who had become Mary's closest ally.

    1567: Marriage to the Earl of Bothwell

Earl of Bothwell

Mary probably agreed to marry Bothwell in the hope of uniting the Scottish nobles, all of whom had wanted to be rid of Darnley. This was a serious mistake. Not only were the other lords jealous of Bothwell's sudden rise to power, they were also shocked that Mary should marry the man suspected of murdering her previous husband.

Mary and Bothwell now became fugitives. When they were eventually cornered, Mary agreed to give herself up in return for an agreement that Bothwell be allowed to leave the country.

Mary was eventually imprisoned in Lochleven Castle. Here, she was forced to abdicate in favour of her thirteen-month-old son, who was crowned James VI on 29th July, with the Earl of Moray as Regent.