"In my end is my beginning." The subtitle of the National Museum of Scotland’s Mary, Queen of Scots is lifted from the heraldic motto inscribed on the Mary Stuart’s coat of arms at the time of her birth in 1542. After seeing the show, the prescience of those words seems almost uncanny.
Unlike most exhibitions about historical figures, this one starts not with a birth but with a death. The first work of art we see in it is the full-length portrait of Mary commissioned by Elizabeth Curle, the lady-in-waiting who prepared the Queen for execution. Its placement at the beginning of the show reminds us that however gripping the story of Mary’s brief and turbulent reign, it was the manner of her death that gave meaning and importance to her life.
For as far as I can make out, almost everything that happened to Mary during her time as Queen of the Scots was essentially sordid - not much more than a catalogue of murder and misalliance set amid the tribal skirmishing that passed for politics north of the border in the 16th century. For all her glamour, from the perspective of what she achieved Mary’s reign amounted to little more than an historical footnote.
But when Elizabeth murdered her cousin, she committed the crime not only of regicide but of sacrilege, thereby elevating a fascinating but fundamentally flawed figure to the heroine and martyr whose story is known to every school child. Elizabeth’s catastrophic miscalculation is the reason why Antonia Fraser’s biography of Mary, published more than 45 years ago, is still in print. And in another way, too, Mary’s end was the beginning of her greatness. For in a twist of fate she would surely have relished, it is from Mary and not Elizabeth that all British monarchs, including our present Queen, descend.
Another good link here about this: http://www.dailyreco...s-probe-2011146
The investigation is part of a major exhibition about Mary, Queen of Scots.
It looks at the murder of Mary’s second husband Lord Darnley – and asks whether she was to blame.
Darnley, a feckless, philandering bisexual, was found strangled in 1567 after an explosion at the house where he was staying in Edinburgh.
One of the queen’s most trusted noblemen, the Earl of Bothwell James Hepburn, stood trial for the murder. He was found not guilty – and married Mary a month after his acquittal.
George Dalgleish, keeper of Scottish history at the National Museum of Scotland, said: “We have presented part of the exhibition
as a historical CSI examination of the murder of Darnley and believe it shines a whole new light on the subject.
“A detailed map drawn by one of the spies working for William Cecil, Elizabeth’s spymaster general who would be M if Mary’s story was ever made into a Bond movie , shows the murder site at Kirk o’ Field.
Boy, would I love to go to this! I have always found Mary, Queen of Scots a fascinating character. I've read quite a bit about her life, and the murder of Lord Darnley, and I don't believe, she had anything to do with his death, even though most movies and historical fiction books portray her as being involved...That really irks me....
Edited by Kowalski, 09 August 2013 - 08:33 PM.