#OnThisDay in 1515 Mary of Guise, mother of Mary, Queen of Scots, was born

#OnThisDay in 1515 Mary of Guise, Mother of Mary, Queen of Scots, was born.

Mary of Guise was born the eldest daughter of Claude of Lorraine, Duke of Guise, and his wife Antoinette de Bourbon at Bar-le-Duc in Lorraine on 22 November 1515.

A member of the prominent Guise family, Mary (known as Mary of Guise, Marie de Guise, and Mary di Guise depending on the source) was born into a house of prominent players in sixteenth-century French politics.

From the ages of six until fourteen, Mary lived in a French convent with her grandmother, Philippa of Guelders, before being removed by her uncle Antoine, Duke of Lorraine and his wife Renee of Bourbon, to prepare her for life at the French court. She made her first appearance there in in 1531 at the marriage of King Francis I and Eleanor of Austria.


At the age of eighteen, Mary became a duchess when she married Louis II d’Orléans, Duke of Longueville on 4 August 1534 at Chateau du Louvre. The happy union produced two sons, but Mary was left a widowed single mother less than three years after exchanging vows when Louis died on 9 June 1537.

Late in the same year, Mary received offers of marriage from both James V of Scotland and Henry VIII of England. Henry’s offer was primarily to prevent James from securing a French alliance through his marriage, and Mary refused on the grounds that she did not fancy the idea of meeting a similar fate to Henry’s previous wives.

King Francis I of France accepted James’s offer on Mary’s behalf and offered James a dowry equal to what Mary would have been granted as a royal princess. The marriage contract was finalised in January 1538, and the wedding between James and Mary was held by proxy on 18 May 1538 at Notre Dame de Paris, with Lord Maxwell standing proxy for the absent King James V who was still in Scotland.

Queen of Scotland: 1538-1542

Mary landed in Scotland on 10 June 1538 and was formally received by her new husband a few days later as part of a larger pageant and celebration put on in her honour. A second marriage ceremony then took place at St Andrews and Mary was crowned as Queen of Scotland at Holyrood Abbey on 22 February 1540.

The couple had three children – sons James, Duke of Rothesay and Robert, Duke of Albany both died before they were a year old and daughter, Mary. Mary, born 8 December 1542, just six days before her father’s death, became Queen Regent of Scotland before she was a week old. Six years later she was sent to France to be raised with her husband-to-be, the Dauphin Francis.

Queen Regent: 1554-1560

With her daughter on the continent, Mary served as Regent of Scotland in her daughter’s name. Mary’s regency was heavily influenced by her Guise brothers in France – Francis, Duke of Guise and the Cardinal of Lorraine – who she frequently consulted, meaning that the Scots and the French were allied in foreign affairs and approaches.

Her greatest threat during this time was the growing influence of the Scottish Protestants under John Knox whose hopes were stirred in 1558 when Protestant Queen Elizabeth came to the English throne.

Mary became seriously ill in 1560 while fortifying Edinburgh Castle against the advancing English and died of dropsy (known now as ‘Edema’) on 10 June 1560.