ACEO, 2.5 x 3.5 inches, watercolor and gouache, July 2007.
After her forced abdication and flight to England in 1568 Mary was arrested at Carlisle and held prisoner. Later that year an "inquiry" (to all intents and purposes a trial) into her involvement in the murder of Lord Darnley, her previous husband. There was little chance of Mary getting a fair hearing - The man in charge of the prosecution was the James Stewart, Earl Of Moray, who was ruling Scotland in the name of Mary's son. She was also unable to appear or speak in her own defence. In fact she believed no court could try her as she was a Queen. The inquiry was held at York and centred on some letters known as the Casket Letters allegedly sent to Bothwell (the man who had abducted and raped Mary who she had then married) by Mary. The authenticity of the letters has been a controversial subject and it is doubtful now if anyone will ever now if they were real or forged, but at the time they were considered to be proof of Mary's guilt. She spent the next eighteen years of her life confined to various hoses, a virtual prisoner. In 1570 she was implicated in the Ridolfi plot, which planned to marry her to the Duke of Norfolk, depose Elizabeth and become Queen. After the plot failed Mary was barred from the succession but though she was an obvious threat Elizabeth could not face executing her., as she was an anointed monarch, like herself. Mary became a stone around Elizabeth's neck. Mary was of course outraged and bitter at her continued confinement and Elizabeth's refusal to see her or help her regain her throne. She became the focus for English Catholics who wished to place her on the throne - Elizabeth had been excommunicated by the Pope and her assassination encouraged. Plots continued to revolve around her. Her involvement in the Babington plot provided the evidence and excuse to get rid of her. Babington was a young Catholic who planned to assassinate Elizabeth and with the help of other Catholic monarchs place Mary on the throne. Unknown to him he was also corresponding with double agents. Secret letters in code between Babington and Mark were intercepted and decoded before being sent on and Mary was found to be giving her assent to the plan. The plot uncovered, Babington suffered a cruel death by hanging, drawing and quartering. It was now impossible for Elizabeth to ignore the serious threat Mary posed - she had direct evidence. Mary was placed on trial at Fotheringay Castle in 1586, and was found guilty of treason. Elizabeth, who had for so long tried to avoid the situation was faced with signing her death warrant. Mary was executed at Fotheringay on Feb 8th 1587. The execution was poorly carried out - it took three blows of the axe to kill her, the first slipped and hit the back of her head. It is said that when her head was lifted to be displayed the executioner was left holding a wig, Mary's head still on the ground - no one had known she was grey haired. She was 44. She was embalmed but her body lay in a lead coffin in the castle for a year until it had to be removed and was then buried in Peterborough Cathedral. It was later exhumed and moved to Westminister Abbey after her son, James I became King.