Mary, Queen of Scots and the Scottish Reformation

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Mary, Queen of Scots and the Scottish Reformation


The Scottish Qualifications Authority regularly reviews the arrangements for National Qualifications. Users of all NQ support materials, whether published by Learning and Teaching Scotland or others, are reminded that it is their responsibility to check that the support materials correspond to the requirements of the current arrangements.

Learning and Teaching Scotland gratefully acknowledges this contribution to the National Qualifications support programme for History.

The publisher would like to acknowledge the following for permission to reproduce images, photographs and texts: Pope’s Hat © 2007; Stirling Castle , © Marie Stuart Society,; Battle of Pinkie © CCLHP,; Image of Dauphin Francis, attributed to the workshop of Leonard Limosin, Francis II © Scottish National Portrait Gallery; Mary, Queen of Scots and the Dauphin Francis © Trustees of the National Library of Scotland; Mary of Guise, 1515–1560. Queen of James V about 1537, attributed to Corneille de Lyon, Mary of Guise © Scottish National Portrait Gallery; (; Microsoft clipart © 2009 Microsoft Corporation; ‘The Tradgie of a Cardinal’ by David Lindsay © David Lindsay; Sir Francis Walshingham attributed to John De Critz the Elder © National Portrait Gallery, London; John Knox. From ‘Cassell’s Old and New Edinburgh’ (c. 1880s). Digitised and published by the Edinburgh Bookshelf.; Unknown, James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell © Scottish National Portrait Gallery; Unknown, Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley © Scottish National Portrait Gallery; Arnold Bronckorst, James VI and I (as a boy) © Scottish National Portrait Gallery; Hugh Monro, after unknown, James Stewart, Earl of Moray © Scottish National Portrait Gallery; Queen Elizabeth I by unknown artist © National Portrait Gallery, London; Battle of Langside © Getty Images; William Craig Shirreff, Mary Queen of Scots Escaping from Loch Leven Castle © National Gallery of Scotland; Loch Level castle,; NPG D21382, David Riccio (Rizzio) by Charles Wilkin, after unknown artist stipple engraving, published 1814 © National Portrait Gallery, London; Kirk o’ Field map, document reference no TNA: MPF 1/366,; Sir William Allan, The Murder of David Rizzio © National Gallery of Scotland; Mary, Queen of Scots with her second husband, Lord Darnley © Getty Images; Mary’s return to Leith from France, © Marie Stuart Society,; Sir David Wilkie, the Preaching of John Knox before the Lords of the Congregation, 10 June 1559, © National Gallery of Scotland; Attributed to Arnold Bronckorst, James Douglas, 4th Earl of Morton, © Scottish National Portrait Gallery; Andrew Melville, courtesy of University of St Andrew’s Library; Mary in prison © Marie Stuart Society,; Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk by unknown artist © National Portrait Gallery, London; Extract of letter © Marie Stuart Society,; Culture and Sport Glasgow (Museums), Execution of Mary Queen of Scots, Herdman, Robert (1829–1888); Mary Queen of Scots reproduced with the kind permission of the Blairs Museum Trust, Aberdeen; Mary Queen of Scots reproduced with the kind permission of the Blairs Museum Trust, Aberdeen.

Every effort has been made to trace copyright holders, but if any have been inadvertently overlooked the publisher will be pleased to make appropriate arrangements.

© Learning and Teaching Scotland 2009
This resource may be reproduced in whole or in part for educational purposes by educational establishments in Scotland provided that no profit accrues at any stage.

Introduction 4

Setting the scene 6

Student notes 9
Section 1: Scottish society and the Church in the 1540s 13
Section 2: Relations between Scotland and England 22
Section 3: The Scottish Reformation 31
Section 4: Mary, Queen of Scots in Scotland 41
Section 5: The confirmation of the Reformation in Scotland 58
Section 6: Mary, Queen of Scots in England 64

Appendix 1: Glossary 73

Appendix 2: Timeline 76

Appendix 3: Who’s who 78

In this unit, you will learn about the life of Mary, Queen of Scots and the Scottish Reformation. You will learn about:

What life was like in the 16th century; who was in charge of the country and the power of the Church

How England and France fought over control of Scotland and used Mary to help them

Mary’s life in France

The Reformation and how it changed Scotland

Trouble the Reformation caused Mary

Mary’s return from France and her life in Scotland

Marriages and murders

How life changed in Scotland after the Reformation

Mary’s life in England

Mary’s death

At the start of each of the sections you will see a table like the one above. When you have successfully completed each section, for example you know about Mary’s life in England, put a green tick in the box √. This will show your teacher that you know it well. If you are not too sure about it, put an orange tick in the box √. This shows your teacher that you have finished but there are some things that you are unsure about. If you haven’t understood it or missed anything then put a red tick √. This will let you know that you have to go back over some things in the section.

There are many important things that happened in the story of Mary’s life. To help you keep track of everything there is a timeline with important dates on it at the back of this unit. As you learn about the

story of Mary, Queen of Scots, fill in the timeline to keep a note of the most important events in her life.

You are going to come across many new words that are important to understand so that you can follow the events of this period of history. Many of these words are listed in the glossary at the back of this unit. As you work through each section, look out for the words in bold type as these will be the words in the glossary. As you come across each new word, find out its meaning and write it into the glossary. Then, when you come across it again you can check your glossary to find out the meaning. You might want to check that you have the same meaning as others in your class.
Who’s Who?
At the back of this unit there is a ‘Who’s Who?’ section. Have a look at this before you begin to familiarise yourself with the characters in Mary’s life. Keep it beside you as you work.
BBC learning zone clips
Where you see this movie icon there is a film clip to watch to find out more. Go to:

In the bar where it says ‘SEARCH BY KEYWORD OR CLIP NUMBER’ put in the clip number given in the box beside the icon. Click ‘SEARCH’ to view the clip.

Setting the scene
Before we start, we will have a look at what life was like in the time of Mary. Mary was alive in the 16th century. The 16th century is from 1500 to 1599. Mary lived from 1542 to 1587. Life was very different back then.

Write down three things that you use and wouldn’t want to live without.

Did your list include any of these?

If it did, you would not enjoy living in the 16th century. There was no technology or electricity. People who had wealth entertained themselves by going to balls and dancing as orchestras played classical music, and by reading and listening to people tell stories.

Mary, Queen of Scots is a new historical character to us and the Reformation is a period of time that you will not have studied before.

Think of any two historical characters. It can be people that you have already studied in history or people that you know from films and books.
With a partner, add your two historical characters together to have four different people.
Decide whether your four characters came before or after Mary, Queen of Scots. Put them in order from earliest in history to most recent. Decide where Mary, Queen of Scots comes within them.
Work with another pair to decide if you have the order correct.

Before we begin the course we should answer a few questions.

Why study Mary’s life?
Mary had a tragic but very interesting life.

She was married three times.

She was accused of murder.

Her third husband was the man accused of killing her second husband.

She was in prison for 19 years.

She was finally beheaded by her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I of England.

What was the Reformation?
The Reformation was a period of time in history when Scotland and other parts of Europe changed from Catholic to Protestant. This was a difficult time for Mary as she was a Catholic.
Who was in charge of Scotland at that time?
In our lives, the Prime Minister and politicians are in charge of the country. They are voted for by the people. We have a royal family but they do not make decisions.
However, in the time of Mary it was the Church and the royal family who ruled the people of Britain. It was these groups that betrayed Mary and this led to her gruesome death.
Student notes
In this unit of work, you will be asked to complete various tasks. Some will ask you to answer questions based on the information you have read. These are called knowledge and understanding questions. These are used to make sure you know what you have read and that you understand it.
You will also be asked to answer enquiry skills questions. These questions will be based on sources.
Sources are either primary or secondary.
Primary sources are written or produced at the time or shortly after an event. They are first-hand (eyewitness) accounts of what happened. For example, a letter written by Mary, Queen of Scots is a primary source as she wrote it at the time.
Secondary sources are written or produced many years after the event we are studying. They are second-hand accounts of what happened. For example, a historian writing about the Reformation in 2006 is a secondary source as the historian was not there at the time of the Reformation.
At some points you will be asked how useful, how reliable or how valuable a source is. To answer this type of question, you need to follow these important steps.
Step one: Why was it written/ produced? (What is the purpose of the source?)
Step two: Who wrote or produced it? (Who is the author?)
Step three: When was it written/ produced? (What is the date?)

Is it a primary or secondary source?

Step four: What does it say/show? (Is the detail useful?)

When answering an enquiry skills question, think of PADD.

  • Purpose of the source

  • Author of the source

  • Date that the source was written/drawn

  • Detail. What is written/what is shown in the picture?

Here is an example of an enquiry skills question.

This is an extract from a letter sent from Mary, Queen of Scots to Queen Elizabeth I of England when she was imprisoned in England. It was written in 1569.

Madame, good sister,
I am pleading with you to help me dear cousin, I have been imprisoned this past year and you had always promised to help me. Will you come to my rescue? I so desperately miss my son.
Your dearest cousin,
Marie R

Enquiry skills question
How useful is this source in telling us how Mary was feeling whilst in prison?
Look at this question. It is asking you how useful the source is. This means that it is an enquiry skills question. Sometimes you will be asked how reliable or how valuable a source is. This is asking the same question.
Now we will go through the checklist.

  • Purpose – Mary wrote this letter to ask her cousin Elizabeth for help.

  • Author – the letter was written by Mary, Queen of Scots.

  • Date – this letter was written in 1569, making it a primary source.

  • Details – Mary tells Elizabeth that she misses her son and wants Elizabeth to help her.

To help you answer enquiry skills questions, a blank answer sheet is provided on the next page. Use this to complete your answer to the question above.

A blank PADD sheet will be provided in the appendix. Your teacher will issue these each time you are asked an enquiry skills question.

Opening statement
Source A is____________________ in telling us __________________ _________________________________(repeat what the question asks).
very useful not very useful quite useful useful
The purpose of the source is to _________________________________


give information about... warn about... show ...
describe ... defend ... explain ...
The author of the source is ________________________.
Name of person Name of a magazine or newspaper Name of artist
This source was written in ___________________.
This makes it a ____________________ source.
Put in the date of the source. Is it a primary or secondary source?
The detail of the source mentions _______________________________


Explain what the source says.
Section 1: Scottish society and the Church in the 1540s
This section of the course looks at society. Society is where we live and the people we associate with or socialise with. Society was very different in Scotland in the 1540s, as was the power of the Church.
In this section you will learn about:



Power of the monarchy and nobility at the death of James V

The Church’s faith – what it believed

How the Church was organised. The failures and attempts to change the Church.


King and/or Queen

Ruled over ALL the land.

BUT! They could not defend it all by themselves.

Needed people that they trusted and would be loyal to them to help them defend the land.


Anybody who was a noble was related to the royal family. They could have different titles like duke, earl and baron.

The king and queen would give land to the nobles.

In return, they wanted the nobles to help them defend the land


The nobles asked knights to help them defend the land. The nobles would give the knights a small portion of their land.

Knights were trained soldiers

Foot soldiers

These were ordinary soldiers who lived on a knight’s land.

The knights would use the men as soldiers and the women would plant crops and make things for the army.

A burgh was the name given to what we would call a town today. A burgh was where ordinary people lived. People who lived in the burghs made their living as craftsmen – they made things – or they could be merchants, who bought and sold goods.
However, burghs were not very pleasant places to live. The houses in the burghs were not well built and were often too close together. Disease spread easily because they were built so close together. There was no sewage system or running water.
There were three different types of burgh. They were run by:
king or queen the Church the nobles
Write the heading ‘Scottish society in the 1540s’ and answer these questions in full sentences using the flow chart and text above.

  1. Who owned all the land in the country?

  2. What were the nobles asked to do?

  3. Who was more powerful, a knight or a foot soldier? Explain your answer.

  4. Give reasons why the burghs were not pleasant places to live.

  5. Can you think of any places in Britain that used to be burghs?

Hint! Think of the name, eg Edinburgh.
Peer assessment
Swap your answers with a classmate. Correct their answers and they will correct yours. Write a comment at the bottom of their work telling them what they have done well, and how they could improve. (If you prefer, have a discussion instead of writing it down.)
Now change any of your answers you think you can improve on, based on what your partner has written or said.
The power of the monarchy and nobles
The monarchy is the name for the extended royal family. In the 16th century the monarchy was in charge of the whole country. Although we still have a royal family today, we also have a government and they are in charge.
In the 16th century, the monarchy was very powerful but its family members had a few problems:

  • They were not as rich as the nobles and the Church and they had to raise money by taxing people – taking extra money from them.

  • They had a lot of competition – lots of people wanted to run the country.

  • They had to keep the nobles and the Church happy – these groups could throw them off the throne!

The monarchy used to give the nobles lots of land and gave them important jobs in the government to keep them happy and keep them on their side. The nobles were very rich and powerful. It was essential that the monarchy were liked and supported by the nobles.

Nobles were also in charge of the people of Scotland. They owned their houses and gave people jobs. They were also in charge of law and order. They had great power over the people. The people would only support a monarch if the nobles liked them; they were scared they could be forced out of their homes.
James V
James V (Mary’s father) was only one year old when he became king in 1513. He was obviously far too young to be king so the nobles ruled for him until he was old enough. The nobles argued a lot and they were split into two groups. They could not decide who Scotland should be allied with. If countries are allies this means they are friends.Should Scotland be friendly with:
England? or France?

When James V was old enough to rule as king, he married a French woman, Mary of Guise.

James’ decision upset many of the nobles and they refused to help him when he wanted to fight with England. As we have read before, having the support of the nobles was very important to the king. James’ army was defeated by the English because of the lack of support from the nobles.
The wife of James V, Mary of Guise, gave birth to a girl on 8 December 1542. She was named Mary. James was very ill at this time and was very worried that he had a daughter. James would have preferred a son because at that time the law stated that the oldest son would inherit his father’s money, land and title when he died. A woman could inherit the throne, but only if she had no brothers. Some people at the time also believed that a woman was not strong enough to lead a country. James was also very worried that the nobles would take the throne away from his daughter. James V died on 14 December, 1542, 6 days after the birth of his daughter Mary.
Check the timeline at the back to see if these dates are included!!

Write the heading ‘The power of the nobility and the nobles’ and copy and complete these sentences using the word box below.
The __________ are the people who were in charge of the country.

__________ and the _________ were wealthier than the monarchy.

James V split the nobles because half wanted Scotland to be friends with _______ and the other half wanted to be friends with ___________.

James V chose to be friends with ________.

James V’s wife gave birth to a _______ called Mary.

_______ was _____ days old when James V died.

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