What happened in 1567?
Early in the morning of 10 February 1567, Kirk o' Field house in Edinburgh was destroyed by an explosion. The partially clothed bodies of Lord Darnley, the second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, and his servant were found in a nearby orchard, apparently strangled but unharmed by the explosion.
Suspicion immediately fell upon Mary and James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, one of her closest and most trusted noblemen. Although Bothwell was considered to be the lead conspirator, he was found not guilty at his trial in April, 1567. Mary married Bothwell the following month, just three months after Darnley's murder.
Darnley's death remains an unsolved historical mystery. Work through the available evidence and see if you can work out what happened.
- Why are the men half naked?
- How did the bodies get there?
- What might the chair have been used for?
- Are there any obvious marks on the bodies?
- Who do you think the dagger belonged to?
- How do you think they died?
1. This section shows the bodies of Lord Darnley and his servant in the garden.
- Where are the men taking Lord Darnley's body?
- Why do you think the soldiers were there?
- Where is Lord Darnley's servant being buried?
2. This section shows Lord Darnley being carried away and the funeral of his servant.
- Judging from the ruin, how big was the explosion?
- The ruins of Kirk o' Field House have been labelled the site of the murder. Do you think this is really where he was killed?
3. This section shows the site of Darnley's death.
- The infant James is saying 'Judge and revenge my caus, O Lord.' What do you think this means?
- James would have only been a one year old baby at this time. What is the artist trying to suggest about the death of Lord Darnley?
- From what you have found out so far, how do you think Darnley died?
4. This is the Infant James - Lord Darnley's son and heir to the throne.
- If the letter is really from Mary to Bothwell, who is the 'he' Mary keeps referring to?
- What does Mary want Bothwell to do with the letter?
- What warnings does Mary give Bothwell?
- Who is his 'humble and faithful lover'?
- What could Mary mean when she says 'who shortly hopes to be another thing unto you'?
- Does the letter show Mary plotting with Bothwell to kill Darnley? Give reasons to back up your answer.
- Why do you think Bothwell did not burn the letter as Mary asks?
- Do you think we can trust this letter as evidence?
5. This is a letter allegedly from Mary Queen of Scots to Bothwell.
- Do you think Elizabeth was happy with Mary's marriage to Bothwell?
- What do you think was the Queen's mood when she wrote this?
- Why do you think the letter has been crossed out and changed so much?
- Who do you think might have made the changes?
- Do you think Elizabeth herself would have written this letter, or would someone have done it for her?