Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots, 1560-1587

Lead Research Organisation: University of Kent
Department Name: Sch of History


Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots are compared usually along the broad themes of marriage, family, female monarchy, religion, and authority. Unsurprising, this research would also delve into these essential themes. However, the vast majority of their relationship is also characterised by the schemes and deception during Mary's time in England. The most recently published work, Peter Lake's Bad Queen Bess, explores the plots and final years of Mary after she enters England. Lake's work emphasises that the relationship between the two monarchs revolves heavily around these plots and the external input which occurred on both sides and attempted to control the actions of the two queens. Can an understanding of their relationship truly stem from purely an examination of the way these plots developed? As this has been the key focus of their relationship thus far, moving beyond the gossip and passive manoeuvres during Mary's time in England will enable a more in-depth and personal exploration. The British Library offers fantastic opportunities to expand the research on the relationship between these two monarchs. The collection of the Robert Cotton Manuscripts would form the basis for the sources used in this research. Currently in the British Library, these manuscripts contain the will of Mary Queen of Scots and various letters of Elizabeth I. Specifically, using Mary's will would enlighten the most sincere and humble final thoughts of the Scottish queen in her last years. As of December 2017, the American Trust's donation of forty-three letters, written by Elizabeth I and senior courtiers, which contain information relating to Mary Queen of Scots. These remarkable documents offer an insight into the more personal thoughts of the two queens.


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