Most executions in England took place without incident. Unfortunately, the execution of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, did not belong to this “majority”. Her execution turned into a horror spectacle. The inept executioner made a mistake.
Elizabethan England was a treacherous place. Although the nation was experiencing a golden age at the time, it was exposed to constant threats from France, Spain and its own ranks.
The execution of Mary Stuart turned into a horror spectacle
Elizabeth I she was a daughter Henry VIII. and Anne Boleyn. She became famous for dethroning the English queen from the Spanish throne Catherine Aragonese and persuaded the king to separate from the Catholic Church. Many therefore considered Elizabeth’s subsequent claim to the throne to be illegitimate.
Mary Stuart she was born to a Scottish king to Jakub V. and his French wife. She inherited her father’s claim to the throne. She was only six days old. The Scots, eager to form an alliance with France, promised Mary to the heir of the French king and sent her to be educated at his court.
Eighteen-year-old Mary was briefly queen of both Scotland and France when her husband ascended the throne. The year was 1559. However, when he died of an ear infection just a year later, Marie was sent back to her native land.
After a tumultuous and short reign in her homeland, Mary, Queen of Scots, was forced to abdicate after only three years in Scotland. She sought refuge in what was then England. Queen Elizabeth welcomed her royal cousin, although it was more cautious than warm. Marie was allowed to live in various castles, where she was closely watched by her cousin’s loyal nobles. Elizabeth was afraid of her, because the Catholic parties considered Mary Stuart a suitable pretender to the English throne.
After nineteen years of de facto imprisonment in England, Mary was implicated in a plot to overthrow Elizabeth. The Queen of England then ordered her cousin to be sentenced to death.
The inept executioner made a mistake
At that time, beheading was a better way of killing than hanging or quartering. Elizabeth’s mother, Anne Boleyn, was herself beheaded by a French swordsman who was specially called for the performance.
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However, if execution by beheading is not done correctly, it can spell literal disaster. This was ultimately the case with Mary Stuart.
Mary was first forced to strip down to her underwear in front of all the witnesses, then bid farewell to the weeping servants and finally approached the executioners. One of her ladies-in-waiting tied a scarf around her eyes and left Maria to pray. The queen herself had to feel for a log on which to rest her head and wait for the fatal blow.
However, the executioner, who was supposed to carry out the execution, missed the mark and the blade did not go through cleanly. He quickly raised his ax and struck once more. Mary, Queen of Scots, made “a very low noise, and during the whole dreadful process did not move one iota of her body from the place where she lay”.