Mother and son: Mary Queen of Scots, James VI and the propaganda of the Marian Civil War, 31 May

09 March 2023
Dr Steven Reid explores the wide range of propaganda employed in the Marian Civil War, as opposing parties loyal to Mary Queen of Scots and her son James fought for the throne.

31 May 2023, 6.30pm UK time


The road to civil war

In the summer of 1567, following the shocking murder of her second husband Henry Lord Darnley, Mary Queen of Scots was seized at Carberry Hill, imprisoned on the island of Loch Leven, and forced to sign a series of articles abdicating her throne.

A little over a month later, at the age of just thirteen months, the young prince was crowned in her stead as King James VI at the Kirk of the Haly Rude in Stirling. 

Mary’s abdication was the opening of a six-year conflict known as the Marian Civil War, where the ‘King’s Party’ supporting James eventually succeeded, despite the fact that Mary’s ‘Queen’s Party’ were numerically stronger and had far better access to manpower and resources.

In this 45-minute illustrated talk, Dr Steven Reid explores the wide range of propaganda, aimed at all levels of community, used by the supporters of the young James VI during the Marian Civil War.

We will discover:

  • How an infant was used as a propaganda tool against the supporters of Mary Queen of Scots
  • The role of the young prince as a potential hostage during negotiations for the freedom of his mother
  • The tension and suspicion between the two warring parties - and between a royal mother and her son

The talk examines the wide range of propaganda generated during the Marian Civil War, and argues that, even though James was an infant, he was a vital commodity for the ‘King’s Party’ in their pursuit of power, particularly given Mary was physically absent from Scotland from 1568 onwards. 

Content continues after advertisements

Event details

Join Dr Steven Reid for a live c.45-minute illustrated online talk on 31 May at 6.30pm UK time, followed by approximately 30 minutes of questions from the audience. The registration fee includes on-demand access to the event recording (released the following day) for 7 days after the broadcast.

The event will be chaired by Dr Allan Kennedy, Lecturer in History at the University of Dundee and consultant editor of History Scotland magazine.

Registration fee: £10 - includes 7-day access to the event recording. Starts 6.30pm UK time. To find the start time in your time zone, visit TimeAndDate. Got a question about booking? E-mail Rachel Bellerby. 

Speaker details

Dr Steven Reid is senior lecturer in Scottish History at the University of Glasgow. His research interests lie broadly in the intellectual, political and religious history of Scotland between c.1450 and c.1650, especially the life and reign of James VI in Scotland (1567-1603). He also has a strong secondary interest in Mary Queen of Scots, particularly her relationship with James and the way she has been remembered and reimagined in the centuries since her removal from the Scottish throne. 

Dr Reid is a lead researcher (with Anne Dulau) on the Mary Queen of Scots Project. His monograph The early life of James VI: a long apprenticeship, 1566-1585 was published by Brlinn in March 2023.







(Image copyright National Library of Scotland, CC by ASA 4.0)