May 15, 1567 – Mary Queen of Scots marries James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell

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Only three months after the murder of her former husband, Henry, Lord Darnley, Mary Queen of Scots wed James Hepburn, the Earl of Bothwell.  He had optained a divorce from his wife, Jean Gordon, a mere twelve days prior.  Not quite a month earlier, Bothwell had abducted the queen and took “physical possession” (Fraser, 366) of her body, although many thought that he had done so many weeks or even months before; it was thought that they were lovers who had conspired to murder Darnley. 

Unlike her other marriages ~ her first marriage to the Dauphin Francis and her second marriage to Lord Darnley ~ there was no merry-making after the wedding ceremony, which was conducted according to the Protestant rites.  Mary did not even take off her “widow’s weeds” (Morrison, 266) after the ceremony, and change into party attire, but stayed in mourning attire as she sat at her wedding table.

Whether or not Mary and Bothwell had been lovers before their marriage, the marriage itself brought them no happiness.  Lines from Ovid were posted on the gates of Holyrood Palace: “Mense malas malo nubere vulgus ait” ~ “Wantons marry in the month of May”.  (Fraser, 376)  Another Scottish saying was, “Marry in May and regret it for ay”.  Mary certainly learned the truth of that as her throne was soon lost to her, she was made prisoner at Lochleven, and she never saw her husband again. 

 

Notes

Fraser, Antonia.  Mary Queen of Scots . NY: Dell, 1971

Morrison, N.Dell. Mary Queen of Scots. NY: The Vanguard Press, 1960