A Real History – Mary Queen of Scots vs Queen Elizabeth I Timeline (And it’s NOT like we saw in the movies)

historical painting of the real mary queen of scots
Off with her head! (Ouch; too soon?)

Okay, let’s address the elephant in the room: did Queen Elizabeth and Mary Queen of Scots ever meet face to face?

No. No, they didn’t!

And whose fault was that? The blame falls squarely on the shoulders of Elizabeth. Take a look at the following timeline, and maybe you’ll see what I saw: Mary had a charmed childhood. Elizabeth was for the most part treated like ‘the redheaded stepchild’.  So who do  you think grew up with a chip on her shoulder?


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Let’s take a stroll through history.


The Queens’ Timelines, a comparison:

1533: Princess Elizabeth is born to Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.

1536: Anne Boleyn, the mother of Elizabeth, is executed for treason.

1537: Elizabeth’s half brother, Prince Edward, is born.

1542: Elizabeth’s stepmother, Catherine Howard, is beheaded for treason.

1542: Mary Queen of Scots is born; her father dies six days later,making her Queen of Scots.

1543: Mary is crowned Queen of Scots at 9 months old.

1547: Henry VIII dies and the prince becomes King Edward VI.

1548: Mary of Scots sets sails for France and arrives six days later.

1553: King Edward VI dies, and Elizabeth’s half sister, Mary becomes Queen.

1554: Queen Mary Tudor I has Elizabeth thrown into The Tower of London for three months on charges of treason.

1555: Elizabeth is freed from The Tower of London.

1558: Queen Mary I dies, and the Princess Elizabeth becomes Queen Elizabeth I.

1558: The Dauphin, Francis, and Mary Queen of Scots, are married in Notre Dame Cathedral.

1559: The coronation of Queen Elizabeth I.

1559: King Henri II of France dies; Francis and Mary become King and Queen of France.

1560: Mary of Guise, the mother of Mary Queen of Scots, dies.

1560: King Francis II, husband of Mary Queen of Scots, dies from an ear infection, and Mary loses the French crown she had only worn for less than two years.

1561: Mary Queen of Scots arrives back in Scotland.

1562: Mary tours her native Scotland, beginning at Linlithgow Palace, the place of her birth and ending in Edinburgh.

1562: Elizabeth is seriously ill with Small Pox.

1565: Mary Queen of Scots marries her cousin, Lord Henry Darnley.

1566: David Rizzio is murdered in front of the heavily pregnant Queen
Mary.

1566: Mary gives birth to the future King of Scotland and England.

1567: Mary Queen of Scots is force to abdicate the Scottish Throne in favor of her son, the future James VI of Scotland.

1568: Mary Queen of Scots is imprisoned in England after fleeing Scotland.

1570: Queen Elizabeth is excommunicated from the Catholic Church.

1571: The Ridolfi Plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth, and replace her with the Catholic Mary Queen of Scots is discovered. As a result, Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk, is executed.

1580: Pope Gregory XIII states if anyone decided to assassinate Queen Elizabeth, he would assure them they did not commit a sin.

1586:The Babington Plot, a plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth and put Mary Queen of Scots on the Throne of England, is discovered. This led to the execution of the Scottish Queen.

1587:Mary Queen of Scots is executed for treason, by order of her cousin and fellow monarch, Queen Elizabeth I.

1603: Queen Elizabeth dies and King James VI of Scotland becomes James I, King of England.

1612:James I of England/James VI of Scotland, son of Mary Queen of Scots, has her body removed from Peterborough Cathedral to Westminster Abbey, to lie in the Henry VII Chapel at the opposite end of Queen Elizabeth I of England.


What can we take away from the above timeline of both queens?

Here are my thoughts on the subject: We can see Mary had a glorious upbringing in the glittering world of the French Court, while Elizabeth was used as a pawn in establishing the line of succession.

First, she was a princess; then she was a bastard. Next, she had the unenviable role as ‘the second’, much like today’s ‘middle child’ who gets all the hand-me-downs. Then, she was tossed into The Tower of London by her half-sister, Queen Mary I, and if the queen had it her way, Elizabeth would have found herself headless on Tower Hill (keeping company with her long-since-dead mother, Anne Boleyn). With all this in mind, is it any wonder Elizabeth would grow up suspicious of just about everyone?

The fact that Mary Queen of Scots married three times, and Elizabeth never married, I think, speaks volumes.

Through knowing her mother was executed by her father, Elizabeth learned marriage can be a dangerous undertaking. Husbands do kill wives. And furthermore, I don’t think Elizabeth wanted children, who may have had to endure the trials and tribulations of a prince or princess as she had endured.

Plus, children can and do kill their parents. Example: Lyle and Eric Menendez.

Mary, on the other hand, married three times. Her first marriage to the Dauphin, Francis of France, by all accounts was happy, but short-lived. Since her first marriage had gone so well, the fact that her husband died a year and a half later notwithstanding, she supposed the next marriage would also be blessed with happiness.

It wasn’t. When the second husband died, Mary once again walked down the aisle with the nefarious Bothwell. Some say she was coerced, or downright kidnapped by this bad boy; I don’t know. I wasn’t there. The point is, Mary took the trip down the aisle three times; Elizabeth never took that trip. I think this exemplifies the two totally different mindsets of the queens.

So in the end, the two rival queens may not have met in life, but who knows what happened when the lights went out in Westminster Abbey?


If you enjoyed this post, share it with a friend who honestly believes the two queens did meet, then let me know and we’ll both have a good laugh. 🙂

Fact verses Fiction – Mary Queen Of Scots

Movie Review – Mary Queen of Scots

Quiz – Queen Elizabeth l and Mary Queen of Scots

Quiz – Queen Elizabeth I

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