MARY—DARNLEY AND RIZZIO
It was August when Queen Mary arrived in Scotland
and landed in Leith, but the day was bleak and grey. A
thick mist covered sea and shore, and as she arrived sooner
than was expected, nothing was ready. But it soon
became known that the Queen had come, and after
waiting some hours, a few poor horses were got together,
and the procession started for Holyrood. It was not a
very grand procession, and everything seemed poor and
plain to Mary after the splendour of the French court.
Yet the people were glad to have their Queen among
them once again, and they did their best to show their
gladness. Bonfires were lit, and crowds gathered under
the Queen‘s windows, singing doleful psalms, and playing
on instruments much out of tune. It was anything but
beautiful music, yet Mary was so good-natured that she
would not have it stopped, but said she liked the melody
well, for she knew that the people did it to honour her.
Soon, however, Mary was to learn how fierce her
subjects could be. She had made up her mind to allow
the people to worship God in their own way, and she
meant to worship in her way. But it had been made a
crime for any one to read Mass, as the Roman Catholic
service is called, and when it became known that a priest
was going to read Mass for the Queen in her own private
chapel at Holyrood, there was a terrible uproar among
304 SCOTLAND’S STORY
the Protestants. ‘ I will rather see ten thousand French
soldiers landed in Scotland, than suffer a single mass,’
cried Knox. Another fierce Protestant buckled on his
armour, and rushed into the palace courtyard, shouting
that every priest should die. But the Earl of Murray,
the Queen‘s half-brother, Protestant though he was, put
his back to the chapel door, and with his sword prepared
to defend it. Others joined him, and so the uproar ceased.
Afterwards, Queen Mary sent for Knox and talked to
him. She wanted to be friends with Knox, but although
Knox was a good man, he was very stern and narrow.
He could only see his own side, and could not believe
that any one was right who thought differently from him
self. Mary was clever, and answered Knox and his
arguments very well. But although they had many talks,
they could never understand each other, and could never
be friends. Knox often preached against Mary, saying
cruel things of her and her way of living, and yet, perhaps,
with all his sternness, he had a kindly feeling for the young
Queen, and only spoke cruelly because he wished to make
In spite of difficulties, the first few years after Mary
returned to Scotland passed quietly. She was so beauti
ful and clever, that even stern Protestant nobles were glad
to fight for their Catholic Queen.
Many men loved Mary and were anxious to marry
her. But it was difficult to find a prince worthy of this
young, beautiful Queen. At last she married her cousin,
Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley. He was tall and hand
some. ‘ The handsomest long man I have ever seen,’ said
Mary. He was cousin to Queen Elizabeth as well as to
Queen Mary, and if neither of them should have children,
he was the next heir to both thrones. So it seemed a
good thing that Darnley and Mary should marry.
DARNLEY AND RIZZIO 805
Darnley came from England, where he had been living,
to visit Mary. They soon loved each other and were
Some people, especially the Protestants, were very
angry about the marriage, for Darnley, like Mary, was a
Roman Catholic. Among those who were angry was the
Queen‘s half-brother, the Earl of Murray. He and the
chief Lords of the Congregation banded together and
raised a rebellion. But Mary called her army together,
and wearing a helmet upon her head, with pistols at her
saddle-bow, and her husband beside her in gilded armour,
she rode out to meet the rebels. She swept through the
country, chasing them from place to place, till at last
Murray and the other leaders fled into England. This
rebellion was called the Run-about-Raid, from the way in
which the rebels were hunted about from place to place.
For a short time Mary and Darnley were happy. But
soon the Queen began to find out that her ‘ handsome
long man ‘ was only a silly, jealous boy. He was wicked as
well, and instead of loving her husband, Mary grew to hate
him, and became very unhappy. The people, too, would
not allow Darnley any power as King. He was only
the Queen‘s husband, they said. This made Darnley
very angry with Mary, for he thought she was to blame.
Among Mary’s servants there was an Italian musician,
named David Rizzio. He was clever and useful. He
wrote the Queen‘s letters, advised and helped her in many
ways, and also amused her by writing poetry and music.
The Queen also wrote poetry, and she became fond of
Rizzio, and made much of him. This made Rizzio very
proud and haughty. He dressed in splendid robes, and
was insolent to the great lords, who hated him because he
was only a common man and a foreigner.
Darnley, too, hated Rizzio He hated him so much.
306 SCOTLAND’S STORY
that he made up his mind to kill him. He made friends
with some of the nobles who were Rizzio’s enemies, and
together they planned his murder. One windy March
night, the Queen and Rizzio, with a few of her ladies and
friends, were sitting at supper in a tiny room, off Mary’s
bedroom in Holyrood. It is such a tiny room that, if
you ever go to see it, you will wonder how so many people
found room to sit there.
It was about seven o‘clock. The curtains were drawn,
the candles were lit, and Mary sat talking merrily with
her friends. But while they talked and smiled, the court
yard of the palace was filled with armed men, who took
possession of the great gates and closed them, so that
none of the Queen‘s friends might enter. Then, led
by Darnley, they crept quietly up the secret stairway
which led to the Queen‘s rooms, and which no one but
he might use.
Telling the men to wait, Darnley went into the room
alone. No one was surprised that he should come to see
the Queen, and he sat down beside her, put his arm round
her waist, and talked kindly to her.
Suddenly the door opened again. Mary looked up,
and saw before her another of the conspirators called Lord
Ruthven. He had been very ill, but such was his hatred
of Rizzio, that he had risen from his bed so that he might
help to kill him.
Ruthven‘s face was pale, his eyes were sunken, and
he was so weak that he had to be helped up the stain
As he stood in the doorway, gaunt and terrible in
his armour, his looks frightened the Queen so that she
cried out in fear, and told him to be gone. But behind
him crowded steel-clad men with drawn swords and
‘ If it please your Majesty,’ said Ruthven in his hollow,
DARNLEY AND RIZZIO 307
dreadful voice, ‘let yonder man Davy come forth from
your presence. He has been over long there.’
‘Ah,’ cried Mary, turning to Darnley with a bitter
look, ‘ is this your work ? ’
‘ Nay, but I know nothing of it,’ replied Darnley.
Ruthven drew his dagger, and Rizzio, pale with terror,
threw himself upon his knees, trying to hide behind the
Queen. Holding on to her skirts he shrieked, ‘ Save me,
save me I ‘
In a moment all was confusion. The little room was
filled to overflowing with armed men. The table was
overturned. As it fell, a lady caught up one of the
candles upon it, otherwise the room would have been left
in complete darkness. Roughly the men tore Rizzio from
the Queen. Ruthven himself took hold of her, and
placing her in Darnley’s arms, bade him to take care of
his wife, and her to fear nothing.
Mary could do no more to save her favourite. Darnley
held her fast, while the fierce soldiers dragged the poor,
trembling, shrieking wretch away.
They had meant to try him in some kind of a rough
fashion, but now that they had him in their power, they
thought no more of a trial, but as soon as he was out of
the Queen’s rooms they stabbed him to death. So eager
were they, that in the struggle, they wounded each other,
and at last left their victim lying in a pool of blood, with
fifty-six wounds in his poor body.
Weak and ill, Ruthven staggered back to the little
room where Mary stood trembling and weeping with fear
and anger. Too weak to stand, he sat down in the
Queen‘s presence, hardly begging pardon for his rudeness,
and called for wine.
‘ Ah, traitor ! ’ cried the Queen, ‘ how dare you come
into my presence ? How dare you sit when I stand ? ’
‘ Madam,’ he replied, ’ I do it not out of pride, but out
of weakness of body.’ Then he told her that what was
done, was done with the knowledge of her husband, which,
far from comforting the Queen, only hurt her the more.
But not knowing that Rizzio was aiready dead, she still
begged for his life.
Then one of the Queen‘s Maries came running in with
a pale face, and the news that Rizzio was killed. ‘ And is
it so ?’ cried Mary, dashing the tears from her eyes.
‘ Then farewell weeping. Now will I study revenge.’
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