07/08/2017
Share this story Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

The last letter of Mary Queen of Scots - National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh

34b04be0-042c-49d3-827e-4c9b846f0172

The final letter of Mary Queen of Scots, written on 8 February 1587, just hours before her execution, is cared for by National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh.

The document, written at 2am at Fotheringay Castle in Northamptonshire, was addressed to Henri III of France, the brother of Mary's first husband Francis.

Mary had been writing to Henri regularly during her 19-year captivity and in this final letter, she expresses her belief that she is dying a religious martyr. She also expressed concern for the loyal servants who had served her during her time in England.

The history of the last letter of Mary Queen of Scots

After being received by Henri III after Mary's execution, the letter was kept in the French royal archives and later given to the Scots College in Paris.

When the college was closed during the French Revolution the document fell into private hands and was eventually purchased by 19th-century autograph collector Alfred Morrison. In 1918 it was bought by a group of subscribers and presented to the Scottish nation through the National Art Collections Fund. It was held by the Advocates Library, until 1925, when the National Library of Scotland was created.

MORE: Bitter enemies? Mary Queen of Scots and John Knox

The Mary Queen of Scots letter is part of the National Library of Scotland's manuscript collections. (NLS reference: Adv.MS.54.1.1). Read an English translation of the letter; and the French transcription. The letter is occasionally put on public display (most recently in 2009) but due to its age and significance is not on general display.

(Letter image copyright National Library of Scotland)

Back to "Mary Queen of Scots" Category

07/08/2017 Share this story   Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Recent Updates

The Battle of the Standard was fought - On this day in history

The Battle of the Standard was fought on 22 August 1138. ...


Scottish inventor William Murdoch was born - On this day in history

Scottish inventor William Murdoch was born on 21 August 1754. ...


Scottish poet William Miller died - On this day in history

Scottish poet William Miller died on 20 August 1872.


Scottish engineer James Nasmyth was born - On this day in history

Scottish engineer James Nasmyth was born on 19 August 1808.


Other Articles

Beggars' badges in Scotland

Jonny Keen provides an introduction to the use of beggars' badges in Scotland, exploring their distribution ...


Arthur Elphinstone was executed - On this day in history

Arthur Elphinstone, Lord Balmerino, was executed on 18 August 1746.


The Battle of Verneuil was fought - On this day in history

The Battle of Verneuil was fought on 17 August 1424.


Carolina Nairne was born - On this day in history

Lady Carolina Nairne was born on 16 August 1766.