Today in Mary Queen of Scots History.
November 25, 1569. Mary is removed from Tutbury Castle to the walled city of Coventry.
Because of the Catholic Rebellion in the North earlier in November, which focused on Queen Mary as the queen who would take the English throne after Elizabeth was overthrown, the government in London directed Lord Shrewsbury to move Mary Queen of Scots away from Tutbury Castle, which could be easily reached and taken by the rebels, and put the romantic Queen in a more secluded spot. However, she could not be housed in Coventry Castle; it had been uninhabited since the War of the Roses and was largely demolished, its stones being carted off and used to construct other buildings.
According to Roderick Graham, “…to Elizabeth’s council in London, Coventry was no more than a conveniently placed dot on their map, they had no idea that there was no convenient castle or aristocratic house in which Mary could stay. In desperation, Shrewsbury lodged her first in the Bull Inn, where she arrived after dark and was confined to her room to avoid ‘fond gazing and confluence of the people.’ Elizabeth was apoplectic that the presumed focus of the Northern Rising was lodged in a common inn and demanded that Mary be sent to ‘some convenient house.’ (340)
There was no “convenient house”. Finally, Mary was moved to the only section of Coventry Castle still standing, called “Caesar’s Tower”, and housed in an upper room there. To this day, the room is called “Queen Mary’s room” and can be seen by tourists, although it is a banquet room now.
In early January, 1570, Queen Mary was return to the hated Tutbury Castle, the Catholic Rebellion fully suppressed and its leaders all executed or exiled.
Mary was terribly upset about this rebellion; she did not wish for it as she always shrank from violence but also as Antonia Fraser noted, “but also on the very sensible ground that she did not believe it would do her cause any good, since the moment was hardly ripe for such a demonstration.” (485) However, it would not be the first nor the last time men acted like idiots for Mary’s cause and did her more harm than good.
Fraser, Antonia. Mary Queen of Scots. New York: Dell Publishing Company, 1971.
Graham, Roderick. An Accidental Tragedy: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots. Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2008