Born on December 8, 1542, at Linlithgow Palace, Mary became Queen of Scots when she was just six days old.
As Hendy VII of England’s great-granddaughter she was next in line to the English throne, after Henry VIII’s children.
She was due to marry Henry VIII’s son, the future Edward VI, after Scottish nobility decided to make peace with England. But it was opposed by the Catholics and she was taken to Stirling Castle.
Scotland returned to its traditional ally, France, and Mary later married the French King Henry II’s heir, Dauphin Francis, on April 24, 1558.
The University of Dundee created a computer generated image (pictured) of the face of Mary Queen of Scots as she would have looked during the time of her reign
He succeeded to his father’s throne in 1559, making Mary Queen of France as well as Scotland. However, King Francis II’s reign was brief and he died in 1560 as a result of an ear infection.
The following year Mary decided to return to Scotland, which was now a Protestant country, after religious reforms led by John Knox.
She was a Roman Catholic and was assured by her half-brother Lord James Stewart that she would be allowed to worship as she wished when she returned in August 1561.
At first she ruled successfully and was advised by James and William Maitland of Lethington. But her marriage in 1565 to her second cousin Henry, Lord Darnley (who was the great-grandson of Henry VII), triggered a series of tragic events.
Darnley, who was spoilt and petulant, had became the focus of her enemies and their relationship became difficult. The birth of their son, James, did little to improve it and when Darnley was murdered in 1567, people began to suspect she was involved.
Her marriage three months later to the Earl of Bothwell – who was generally believed to be the murderer – brought her ruin with Protestant Lords rising against her in a battle at Carberry Hill, near Edinburgh, on June 15, 1567.
She later surrendered and was imprisoned in Lochleven Castle, Kinross-shire, and forced to abdicate in favour of her son. Bothwell had fled but was arrested and held prisoner until his death.
Mary escaped from Lochleven in 1568 and after another failed battle went to England where she hoped Queen Elizabeth I would support her cause, but she was kept in captivity in the country for 19 years.
A number of Roman Catholic plots against Queen Elizabeth led her ministers to demand Mary’s execution.
She was executed at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire on Feburary 8, 1587, aged 44.
Mary Queen of Scots was buried in Peterborough Cathedral but in 1612 her son James VI had her body exhumed and placed in the vault of King Henry VII’s Chapel in Westminster Abbey.