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


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.

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 "Travel" 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

Moray student awarded scholarship for ground-breaking archaeology research

A Moray student is to undertake new research into the fate of farms which were set up on marginal land after ...

Two Scottish visitor attractions pass 2 million visitors landmark

Two of Scotland's most popular visitor attractions each welcomed more than 2 millions visitors during 2017, ...

The Tempest Database - exploring five centuries of extreme weather in Scotland

A new website which allows users to browse five centuries of weather data for Scotland and the rest of the UK ...

When is Tartan Day?

Find out when Tartan Day is, and how this special day is celebrated in Scotland, the original home of tartan, ...

Other Articles

Artefacts recovered from the Castle Midden and Back Walk in Stirling - Scottish archaeology news

A range of artefacts recovered from two sites on the edge of the medieval burgh and castle at Stirling sheds ...

New research uncovers the story of the first Chinese Scotsman

As the world prepares to celebrate Chinese New Year, new research has been released which reveals the ...

Spotlight on Abertay Historical Society

Founded in 1947, Abertay Historical Society exists to promote interest in, and the study of, interest in the ...

The best Scottish castles to visit in springtime

Enjoy a trip to a Scottish castle during Spring, with our pick of castles around Scotland, as voted for by ...