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October 14: Mary Queen of Scots goes on trial



Today in 1486 the trial of Mary Queen of Scots began. At first she had refused to take part in any trial saying that it didn’t apply to her because she was the Queen of Scotland and the laws of England weren’t applicable.  But she was told by Cecil that it would take place with or without her, and so she showed up in a black velvet gown. She was not allowed a lawyer, nor was she allowed to call witnesses. She was also not allowed to look at the documents that were used against her. The trial began with a recap of the Babington Plot, and Mary claimed that she had never known Babington, and had no knowledge of the plot at all. But Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth’s spymaster, had put together some damning evidence including copies of the ciphers and letters. When Mary saw all this evidence she burst into tears, but still claimed that they were all false. The trial lasted another day, and Mary said she should seen before Parliament and the Queen, but she was fighting a losing battle. Within six months she would be dead.  

That’s your Tudor Minute for today. Remember you can dive deeper into life in 16th century England through the Renaissance English History Podcast at

Mary Queen of Scots bracelet from

Tudor Times on Mary Queen of Scots

Blog: That time Mary Queen of Scots was almost murdered
Blog: Mary Queen of Scots the mermaid
Blog: Mary Queen of Scots' cipher

From the Shop: The Mary Queen of Scots collection