Mary Queen of Scots timeline – facts about the life of Mary Queen of Scots

10 May 2018
600-02923.jpg Mary Queen of Scots facts
Explore the life of Mary Queen of Scots, with our timeline of key events in the life of the Stewart queen.

Explore the life of Mary Queen of Scots, with our timeline of key events in the life of the Stewart queen.

8 December 1542

Mary is born at Linlithgow Palace, the daughter of James V of Scotland and his second wife Marie de Guise.

14 December 1542

James V is killed following the Battle of Solway Moss, leaving Mary as queen of Scotland at six days of age.

9 September 1543

Mary is crowned at Stirling Castle, a building which was a favourite with the Stewarts, and which Mary would visit many times. Stirling was chosen because of its position as one of the most secure locations within the kingdom.

9 September 1547

Mary arrives for a stay at Inchmahome Priory during the ‘rough wooing’ during which Henry VIII of England tried to force a marriage between Mary and his son Edward.

August 1548

Mary leaves Scotland for France, to be brought up in the royal court in preparation for her marriage to Francis, dauphin of France, under the terms of the Treaty of Haddington. The royal party leave from Dumbarton Castle, with a week-long sea voyage ahead of them.

24 April 1558

Mary marries Francis in Notre Dame de Paris.

10 July 1559

Henry II of France dies, leaving Francis as king of France and Mary his queen.

5 December 1560

Francis II dies and the French throne passes to his brother Charles. His death comes just months after that of Mary’s mother Marie de Guise, who died on 11 June in Edinburgh Castle.

19 August 1561

Mary returns from France to Scotland, arriving at the Port of Leith.

29 July 1565

Mary marries her second husband, Henry Lord Darnley, a marriage which will prove unpopular with Mary’s advisors and courtiers, as well as with Elizabeth I of England, because of the pair’s individual claims to the English throne – both Darnley and Mary were descendants of Henry VII of England.

19 June 1566

Mary gives birth to a son, the future James VI. The prince is born at Edinburgh Castle, again chosen for its secure position.

15 October 1566

Mary’s horseback journey to Jedburgh is interrupted with the news that the Earl of Bothwell has been injured. She undertakes what became an infamous horseback ride to the earl, who later become her third husband.

10 February 1567

Darnley is found murdered, presumed suffocated, at Kirk o’Field in Edinburgh, after escaping an explosion in the house where he was staying. Mary had been attending wedding celebrations and was accused of involvement in Darnley’s death. Although Mary is accused of involvement in the murder, the prime suspect is the Earl of Bothwell, who within weeks will be Mary’s husband.

24 April 1567

Mary is abducted, either forcibly or willingly, by James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell and taken to Dunbar Castle. The pair travelled to Edinburgh together and are married in a Protestant ceremony on 15 May.

24 July 1567

Mary is forced to abdicate in favour of her infant son James, whilst staying at Loch Leven Castle. In May 1568, she was able to escape her island prison with the help of George Douglas, and set about trying to gather support.

16 May 1568

Mary is defeated at the Battle of Langside and flees to England, hoping for the support of her cousin Elizabeth I of England. Little does Mary know that this is the start of a 19-year imprisonment and she will never be granted an audience with her kinswoman.

January 1569

Mary arrives at Tutbury Castle in Staffordshire, which will reputedly become her most hated prison. She is placed in the care of the Earl of Shrewsbury and his wife Bess of Hardwick.

Click here for Mary’s other places of imprisonment.


After years of imprisonment, Mary is implicated in the Babington Plot, when she is tricked into agreeing to a plot proposed by Anthony Babington which proposed the assasination of Elizabeth I.

8 February 1587

Mary is executed at Fortheringay Castle in Northamptonshire.