Monday, November 4, 2013

Was Mary Queen of Scots a Martyr?

There is a lively debate on The Elizabeth Files. My opinion is that, yes, Mary can be considered a martyr of the Catholic faith. First of all, Elizabeth should not have been holding Mary prisoner all of those years. As much as I admire Elizabeth, she had no legal right to keep Mary captive. She did so for several reasons, one of which was that Mary was a Catholic contender for the throne of England and thus a rallying point for the Catholics of the realm who were being persecuted by Elizabeth.

Secondly, Mary did not plot to kill Elizabeth; she plotted to *escape* which as the prisoner of a foreign power she had every right to do. Why is it so wrong for Mary to plot against Elizabeth when Elizabeth was holding her as a prisoner?

Thirdly, Antonia Fraser and Alison Weir demonstrate that Mary played no part in Darnley’s murder and she married Bothwell unwillingly, after he raped her. Elizabeth should have helped Mary instead of having her imprisoned.

Fourthly, Mary was told by one of the gentlemen escorting her to the scaffold that her death would mean that Protestantism would live, whereas if she lived it might mean Protestantism would die. It was THAT statement (which I paraphrase) which told Mary that she was indeed dying because she was a Catholic and a Catholic queen.

Fifthly, I will add that Elizabeth had no legal right to have Mary put on trial. English law adamantly insisted on a trial by one’s peers. Mary was an anointed Queen and had no peer but Elizabeth, and Elizabeth had no right to try a foreign head of state. Furthermore, Mary was not given counsel and she was in a foreign land where the customs and proceedings were strange to her. She was put at a distinct disadvantage during her trial, which had the air of a kangaroo court and contravened the laws of the kingdom.
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8 comments:

Stephanie A. Mann said...

I think your comments were among the most reasonable and well-stated on the post, Elena Maria! Well done!

elena maria vidal said...

Thank you, Stephanie, I am honored for you to say so!

May said...

There is some similarity with the cases of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. There, too, one often hears that they were not martyrs because they were killed for political reasons rather than for professing the faith. But in cases like these, politics and the faith were closely intertwined.

elena maria vidal said...

Exactly. Especially when the governments in question were actively persecuting Catholics.

MadMonarchist said...

It seems relatively simple to me. Would she have been executed if she had been a Protestant? No. Likely she would not have even been in England to be arrested if she had not been a Catholic and if she had been a Protestant there would have been little to no support for her in England thus she would have been no threat to Elizabeth I. She was killed for being a Catholic -she was a martyr.

elena maria vidal said...

Very true. You know, when Mary was young, there were those who criticized her for not being zealous enough in defense of the Faith. For instance, she never persecuted Protestants. However, she never gave up her Catholic faith even when to have become a Protestant would have saved her life.

MadMonarchist said...

From what I understand she was rather like her mother in that. Queen Marie d'Guise has a bad reputation, mostly because of one very inaccurate but popular film, tried to get both sides to tolerate each other and I don't think she persecuted Protestants either.

underesteemed said...

You have expressed the case better than I could have. Mary was not a perfect person, but she had many good qualities. When she came to Scotland, she was young, inexperienced and a stranger to the country. She did very well, considering. If more of her lords had given her half a chance, instead of being so focussed on feathering their own nest and quarrelling, she would have done even better. I do think she should have been a little harder after the Rizzio assasination and should never have let Morton return to Scotland,; her hands were somewhat tied by her husband's complicity in the crime and the prospect of a final settlement with England.
Love both Mary and her mother.Yes, she was a martyr.