In pictures: Mary, Queen of Scots

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This painting is one of the most familiar images of Mary, Queen of Scots - one of the most enigmatic figures in Scottish history. Mary is the subject of a new exhibition which opens at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh on Friday. The Blairs Memorial Portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots was deliberately painted as a piece of political and religious propaganda to promote her death as a Catholic martyr.
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A large range of exhibits will tell the tale of Mary, Queen of Scots - including this carved oak head from the ceiling of the Royal Palace at Stirling Castle - possibly the King’s Inner Hall - representing King James V, Mary’s father.
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This is the earliest known surviving letter of Mary, written in 1550 to her mother, Mary of Guise. Mary of Guise, a Frenchwoman and by now widow of James V, was Queen Regent in Scotland while her daughter, who was already Queen of Scotland, was being educated at the French court.
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In this oil paiting Mary is wearing white - the traditional mourning colour of the French Royal Family. Within a period of 18 months she had lost three close family members: her father-in-law Henri II of France died in July 1559 as a result of a jousting accident; her mother, Mary of Guise, died in June 1560; finally, in December 1559, she lost her young husband François II. Mary returned from France to her native Scotland in August 1561 and it is probable that this painting was painted sometime between July 1559 and that date.
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The exhibition shows the context and background of the Renaissance world into which Mary is born, with significant advances in science, knowledge and exploration. This is one of only three surviving clocks made by Bartholomew Newsum, Clockmaker to Queen Elizabeth I and one of the first British clockmakers.
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This important cup represents a contemporary fusion of Scottish West Highland decoration in the bowl's panels with French Renaissance strap work on the stem. Scottish craftsmen were inspired by the new ideas from the Continent, particularly from France, given the strong cultural links between the two countries.
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The Reformation was firmly established in Scotland by the time Mary returned to rule. A devout Catholic, Mary avoided practising her faith in public, but still attracted the strong denunciations of John Knox (pictured) on the grounds of both her faith and her gender. Mary was one of his primary targets as he penned his famous "First Blast of the Trumpet against the monstrous regiment of women"
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Heart Shaped Cameo Pendant - The central cameo depicting Mary and the high-quality enamelled back-plate are of French or Italian work, and have been set into a surround probably made by a Scottish goldsmith. Mary brought numerous cameos with her from France as gifts for friends and supporters
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Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, is shown here in his late teens, shortly before his marriage to his cousin Mary, Queen of Scots in July 1565. Darnley was a direct descendent of both King James II of Scotland and Henry VII of England. For Mary this was a perfect dynastic match, as she had her own claim to the English throne. Though they were initially deeply in love, the marriage soon turned sour and ended with Darnley’s unsolved murder in February 1567.
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Darnley’s murder sparked a chain of events which led to Mary’s eventual enforced abdication, flight to England and subsequent imprisonment, while a bloody civil war ensued in Scotland. This illuminated Book of Hours was reputed to have been left by Mary at Terregles, Dumfriesshire, the home of Lord Herries, a prominent supporter, during her flight to England and captivity.
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Death Warrant for Mary, Queen of Scots - Mary was imprisoned in various locations around England for a total of 19 years. She had initially hoped that Queen Elizabeth of England, her cousin, would come to her aid in reclaiming her throne in Scotland, but the Queen and her advisers were more concerned about Mary’s claims to the English throne, which she never abandoned. Eventually, Mary became associated with a scheme known as the Babbington Plot to assassinate Elizabeth, which proved the final straw and the Queen, perhaps reluctantly, signed the warrant for Mary’s execution. The original warrant disappeared in the recriminations which followed Mary's execution. This copy was delivered to Robert Beale by Henry Grey, 6th Earl of Kent, one of the two commissioners tasked with organising the execution.
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A replica of the tomb erected at Westminster Abbey by Mary's son. In life, Mary lost the thrones of France and Scotland, and never realised her claims upon the English throne. Imprisoned for much of her adult life, and executed at the age of 44, Mary by any reasonable standard, lost. And yet, when Elizabeth died without an heir, it was Mary’s son who was crowned James VI of Scotland, and James I of England.
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Mary’s legacy was much contested at the time, and remains so today. This casket is engraved: Sacred to the memory of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots. It contains a lock of hair said to be Mary’s. During the 19th century Mary, Queen of Scots was increasingly portrayed as Scotland’s ultimate romantic heroine. Whatever her merits and shortcomings, Mary Queen of Scots remains one of the most famous Scotswomen who ever lived. The exhibition at the National Museums of Scotland in Edinburgh runs until 17 November.

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