Was Henry Stuart a Pawn?

Was Henry Stuart a Pawn-
When you think of Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley a couple of things come to mind – his tumultuous marriage to Mary, Queen of Scots and his scandalous death that made Mary herself the prime suspect. But what do you know about Darnley prior to his marriage to the Queen of Scots?

Henry Stuart was born the 7th of December 1545 to Margaret Douglas and her husband Matthew Stuart, 4th Earl of Lennox in England. Named after King Henry VIII, Darnley’s mother was the daughter of Margaret Tudor (Henry VIII’s sister) and her second husband, Archibald Douglas. His father was third in line to the throne of Scotland as a descendant of James II of Scotland – so between his two parents he had a strong claim to both the English and Scottish thrones.


The upbringing of Henry Stuart was much like that of a prince or princess of England. He had tutors and was taught Latin, French and was familiar with Scottish Gaelic as well. As any noble he excelled at singing, playing the lute and dancing. Very similar to his great-uncle Henry VIII, he was strong, athletic, a good horseman and had a passion for hunting and hawking.

From early on it seems that Henry’s mother, Margaret Douglas had a hand in everything that Henry did. She may have also pushed Henry to wed his first cousin, the Queen of Scots. What desire did Margaret have to place her son on the throne of Scotland? Did it have something to do with the fact that Margaret felt she deserved to have a piece of Scotland for herself since her half-brother was James V, or that she felt Scotland owed her something after what it had done to her mother, Margaret Tudor? To learn more about that read: The Thistle and the Rose: English Princess, Scottish QueenHenry-stuart-darnley

King Henry II of France died from a jousting accident in 1559 – Darnley, just 13-years-old, was sent by both his parents (since they were not allowed in the country) to send his condolences and to have a formal audience with the Queen of Scots. Darnley carried a letter from his father in which he pleaded to have his forfeited Scottish estates restored to his family. This would be the first meeting between Darnley and Mary.

In 1561, both Henry Stuart and his mother were imprisoned by Queen Elizabeth, but they were released soon after. This imprisonment probably had something to do with the fact that Margaret wanted her son to take the throne of England after Elizabeth’s death – as we learned from Henry VIII, to even think of the King’s death was treason. After their release Darnley spent time at English court before eventually heading to Scotland.


In February 1565 , the now 19-year-old Darnley traveled to Scotland to meet-up with his father, Earl of Lennox. During this visit Henry fell ill with the measles while staying at Stirling Castle and the Queen of Scots took it upon herself to nurse him back to health. This is when Mary fell in love with the young Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley.

Darnley was tall and lanky and extremely good looking, making a huge impression on Mary right away. It is believed Elizabeth knew he was difficult and a drinker and sent him to Mary, knowing she would fall for him.”

Most of Mary’s advisers were against the love match, as was Queen Elizabeth – but Mary being the independent love-bird she was, moved forward anyway. Henry Stuart and Mary, Queen of Scots married in the chapel of the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh on 29 July 1565.

The marriage between Henry Stuart and the Queen of Scots infuriated the Queen of England. By marrying Henry Stuart, Mary strengthened her claim to the English throne and become a bigger threat to Elizabeth’s reign.

By the Fall of 1565 Mary was pregnant with Henry’s child. They would have a boy, named James – who would later become King James VI of Scotland and James I of England.

In February 1567, Henry Stuart (King of Scots) was murdered at Kirk o’ Field.

Whether or not Henry Stuart was a pawn is left up to your interpretation. It is completely possible that Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley fell in love with Mary, Queen of Scots and wanted to marry her, but it’s also possible that he was hungry for power and would do whatever it took to get it – including manipulating a Queen.

What do YOU believe?

Matthew Stuart, Earl of Lennox
Margaret Douglas
Lady Margaret Douglas
Mary, Queen of Scots
Mary, Queen of Scots
Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth of England

Elizabeth l Henry VIII History Margaret Tudor Mary Queen of Scots

6 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Henry VIII must have turned over in his grave to know that his will was being thwarted and USURPED by his first born Mary daughter of Katerina of Spain. Now: since I am an Ameican with blood ties to Tudors I am keen to know if a KINGS DECREE is meant to last obligating his heirs or not? If King Edward VI could not make a change then was he really a KING? Why are we not following Dead Kings directives back 500 years ago if the King’s Will has to be followed. Indeed Why bother if Edward as the KING was so dishonored? He Named Jane Grey….Why did the nation not follow? DCR

    • Those who secretly remained Catholic in their hearts backed Mary & they were more organized & therefore, Mary became queen. It always comes down to politics and religion.

  2. Who cares what the illegal Queen of England thought? Mary, Queen of Scots was an independent Queen of an independent country and could do as she wished. Elizabeth did not belong on England’s throne because she was not legitimate. Even though Anne Boleyn had a Coronation meant nothing. Catherine of Aragon was still alive and the divorce case was still going on in Rome. In 1534, Henry the Eight was suppose to go back to Catherine of Aragon because the Pope had decreed that the marriage between Catherine of Aragon and Henry the Eight was legal and could not be undone. Of coarse, Mary, Queen of Scots should have succeeded to England’s throne when she was Dauphine of France. Imagine how happy Henry the Second of France would have been. He was a horrible man who hated Queen Mary the First of England. England was already a Catholic country and Scotland would have gone back to normal, as England, Scotland and France would have been united. Elizabeth hated Philip of Spain?! She should have worshipped the ground he walked on. It is because of Philip the Second of Spain that she got a chance to make it look like she was so, so important by actually getting crowned Queen of England. And Philip the Second of Spain only encouraged Mary the First to treat her half sister a bit better so that Elizabeth would have the chance to succeed because he did not want Henry the Second of France to be happy.

    • I believe you are mistaken because once Katherine of Aragon died in January 1536 Anne Boleyn became (for those who are pro-Katherine) the rightful queen.

      Elizabeth may have still been considered illegitimate but both she and Mary were listed in Henry VIII’s line of succession. In addition, Henry did not list any of his sister Margaret’s descendants are heirs, only his younger sister Mary – hence the issue with Lady Jane Grey after the death of Edward VI.

      In my opinion, Henry VIII had the right to name his successors and he did not include Mary, Queen of Scots or any other descendant of her great grandmother, Margaret Tudor.

      Also, it wasn’t until AFTER Queen Mary I’s wedding with Philip that she began to convert England back to Catholicism.

    • Regardless of the circumstances of her birth, Elizabeth was rightfully named heir by Parliament, making her the legitimate Queen according to English law. As Tudor’s Dynasty states, this legislation completely bypassed the descendants of Margaret Tudor.

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