| Our Island Story|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|A child's history of England from earliest legendary times delightfully retold. Beginning with the stories of Albion and Brutus, it relates all the interesting legends and hero tales in which the history of England abounds through the end of the reign of Queen Victoria. Ages 9-12 |
ELIZABETH—THE STORY OF A MOST UNHAPPY QUEEN
 AT this time in Scotland as in England there ruled a Queen.
These two Queens were cousins, for Margaret, the sister of
Henry VIII., had married James IV., King of Scotland, and
this Mary who was now Queen of Scotland was their
granddaughter and Elizabeth's cousin.
In spite of the fact that an English Princess had married a
Scottish King, the two peoples continued to be enemies as
they had always been, and Elizabeth of England did not love
her cousin Mary of Scotland. She hated and feared her.
Mary had been brought up in France, which is a Roman
Catholic country, and she had married the French King. So
she was Queen of France and Scotland.
When Mary of England died, Mary of Scotland thought that she
had a better right to the throne of England than Elizabeth,
so she called herself Queen of Scotland, France, England and
Many people agreed with Mary, among them the Pope, who was
angry with Elizabeth because she would not be ruled by him
and would no longer punish the Protestants as her sister had
done. So it was little wonder that Elizabeth hated and
feared her cousin. The Protestants of England hated Mary of
 They were afraid that if she became Queen of
England, she would bring back the dreadful days of the
When Mary was only nineteen, her husband, the French King,
died, and she left France where she had been living and
returned to Scotland. As she sat upon the deck of the ship
which took her to Scotland she wept bitterly. "Adieu,
France, adieu," she sobbed, "I shall never see you more."
Scotland seemed cold and dark to Mary after sunny France,
and the people harsh and rough. Yet the Scots loved their
Queen and were eager to show her that they did so, and Mary
wanted to be loved. But Mary and her people did not
understand each other. Although she was clever and beautiful
she was perhaps the most unhappy and most unwise Queen who
ever sat upon a throne.
In Scotland, as in England, many dreadful things happened
because of the Reformation and change of religion. Mary was
a Roman Catholic, while many of her people had turned to the
new religion. There were other causes for quarrels, so there
was sorrow and war, until at last the Scottish people
imprisoned their beautiful Queen in a lonely castle, upon an
island, in the middle of a loch.
But although many people hated Mary, many loved her too, and
these helped her to escape. One evening, a boy called the
Little Douglas, who lived in the castle where she was
imprisoned, stole the keys while the Governor was at supper.
In the middle of the night he unlocked the door of Mary's
room. Fearfully and silently she crept with him through the
dark passages till they reached the great gate. Douglas
unlocked it, and Mary passed out, holding her little
frightened maid by the hand.
 Douglas locked the gate behind
them and led the way to the place where a boat was waiting
They were soon out on the dark water, getting farther and
farther away from the castle. Half way to the shore, Little
Douglas leaned over the side of the boat and dropped the
great castle keys into the water. Mary's gaolers were
prisoners in the castle, and she was free.
On land some of Queen Mary's friends were waiting for her
with horses, and she rode joyfully away. Soon more friends
joined her, and a battle was fought near Glasgow. But Mary's
soldiers were defeated, and she was obliged to flee.
She did not know where to go. It would have been safest to
go to France, but no ship was ready to take her there. So
she crossed the border into England, and went to ask her
cousin Elizabeth to take pity on her.
Elizabeth had never seen her beautiful cousin, and she
refused to see her now. She gave her a castle to live in,
not as a royal guest, but as a prisoner.
Mary had had to run away from Scotland so quickly that she
had brought no clothes except those she wore. She wrote to
tell Elizabeth this, but although Elizabeth had hundreds of
beautiful dresses, she only sent some old clothes quite
unfit for a queen to wear. Poor Mary would have been badly
off, but her enemies were kinder than her cousin, and sent
her dresses and clothes from Scotland.
When Queen Mary found that Elizabeth meant to treat her as a
prisoner and not as a friend, she begged to be allowed to go
away to some other country. But Elizabeth would not set her
free. She feared if she did, Mary would go to the Kings of
France or Spain and ask them to make war on England. She
felt it was safest to keep her great enemy in prison.
 Mary was so beautiful that she had many friends, and they
were very angry with Elizabeth. Plot after plot to free Mary
was formed. But all plots failed. For nineteen years this
poor Queen was kept in prison. She was moved from castle to
castle, for it seemed as if no place was strong and safe
enough to keep her from her friends. At last she was shut up
in a castle called Fotheringay.
"FOR NINETEEN YEARS THIS POOR QUEEN WAS KEPT IN PRISON"
When Mary had been in prison about nineteen years, a plot to
kill Elizabeth and put Mary on the throne was discovered.
Then the English Parliament persuaded Elizabeth that Mary
must be put to death.
Elizabeth either really felt, or pretended to feel, very
unwilling to give her consent to this. But in the end she
signed a paper ordering Mary's head to be cut off.
A few days later the beautiful Queen, who had been so
unhappy and who had caused so much unhappiness, walked into
the great hall at Fotheringay. In one hand she carried a
Bible, in the other a crucifix. The hall was hung with
black; at one end was a low scaffold, also covered with
Nineteen years before Mary had come to England, young and
beautiful, and, although she was not yet old, the long years
in prison had made her look like an old woman. She could
only walk with difficulty, and when she laid her head upon
the block, it was seen that her hair was white.
Mary's servants cried bitterly when she said good-bye to
them, although she comforted them by saying that, to her,
death was a happy release out of prison. Her little dog
would not leave her even after she was dead, but crept close
to her dress, whining sadly, as the Dean of Peterborough
cried, "So perish all Elizabeth's enemies."
When Elizabeth was told that Mary was dead she was very
angry. She said that although she had signed the
warrant, as the paper was called, she had not meant that
Mary should be killed. It is difficult to know what
Elizabeth did mean, for she was deceitful as well as clever.
But whether she meant it or not, Elizabeth had no right to
Mary's son James, who was now the King of Scotland, was very
angry with Elizabeth for the manner in which she had treated
his mother, but he had neither money nor soldiers enough
with which to fight against England, so he did nothing.
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