Shakespeare Solved ®

Shakespeare Solved ® is a forthcoming series of novels that covers the Bard's entire life and work.

These novels solve the mysteries surrounding Shakespeare by transporting us back in time, to walk in his shoes, and see his world through his eyes.

Only when we see Shakespeare in his original historical context can we understand what his plays and poems really mean.

This blog explains some of my ideas and discoveries, to prepare for this series of novels.

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Articles Written For:

The University of Oxford's Bodleian Library & The Royal Shakespeare Company

Most Popular Posts:

1. Shakespeare's Shylock Solved 2. Shakespeare's Othello Finally Identified 3. Shakespeare In Love Sequel Solved 4. The Real Romeo and Juliet 5. Shakespeare's Malvolio Solved 6. Shakespeare's Real Petruchio

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Something Rotten in the State of Scotland

Was Mary, Queen of Scots guilty of murdering her husband?

Mary, Queen of Scots
Queen Elizabeth I thought she might be. To get to the bottom of the mystery, she had a commission of inquiry held in October 1568 to January 1569, in York, and later Westminster.

Mary first marriage ended in tragedy. She had been married to Francis, Dauphin of France. She was 15. He was 14.

The next year he was crowned King Francis II. He ruled for only 18 months, before he died of an inner ear infection. Some people believed he had been poisoned.

About five years later, she marries Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. They were first cousins -- both grandchildren of Margaret Tudor, sister of Henry VIII.

Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley

Queen Elizabeth I was upset because she had not given her blessing or permission and since both Mary and Darnley were claimants to the throne of England, and any children they had would have had an even stronger claim.

Darnley was not satisfied just to be the husband of the Queen, a king consort. He wanted more power, and especially wanted the right to have the throne for himself if Mary should die pre-decease him.

He was especially unhappy with Mary's secretary, David Rizzio -- and suspected that the child that Mary now carried might have been conceived by Rizzio. Darnley also might have suspected another man as the real father of the baby -- James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell.

James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell

Soon after, Darnley and his men murdered Rizzio at a dinner party in Holyrood Palace -- in front of Mary -- while she was pregnant!

Murder of Rizzio

Not long after, Mary gave birth to James -- who would of course later be crowned king.

Not long after that, Darnley fell ill -- it might have been smallpox, or syphilis -- or it may have been poison.

Mary urged him to recover at the former abbey of Kirk o'Field.

One night, there was an explosion which devastated Darnley's quarters -- they found his dead body in a garden.

Kirk o'Field -- the murder scene

Almost immediately the Earl of Bothwell was suspected of murdering Darnley.

Within four months, Mary married Bothwell.

Now both of them were suspects.

Their marriage was very unpopular, and it led to an armed conflict. Mary and Bothwell were torn apart and she ended up locked away.

While imprisoned she miscarried twin children she was carrying. These are the siblings that James would never know.

Bothwell was exiled, and imprisoned in Denmark. He went crazy and died several years later.

Mary soon escaped her prison and raised an army of 6000 men, but she was defeated and imprisoned again.

At this point, Queen Elizabeth wanted to determine her role in the death of Darnley.

The commission was held, starting in October 1568.

444 years ago this month.

As far as Shakespeare was concerned, I think he would have known all of this, every last detail and every single rumor.

I think stories like this would have been told everywhere, especially in London, and definitely when Elizabeth died and James arrived from Scotland to be crowned king.

Londoners would have wanted to know everything about the man, his family and all the sordid details.

Was Shakespeare referring to Darnley and Bothwell and Mary when he was writing about King Hamlet, and Claudius and Gertrude? Is James the inspiration for Hamlet?

In my version of Hamlet, I explore these questions, and my answers will surprise you.