The Preacher and Politics

 By Al Baker - Posted at Forget None Of His Benefits:

For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God, Acts 20:27.
Mary, Queen of Scots (December 8, 1542 to February 8, 1587), also known as Mary Stuart, was Queen of Scotland from December 14, 1542 until her forced abdication in 1567. Mary was only six days old when her father, James V, died and she inherited the throne. During her childhood, Scotland was governed by regents, like her French mother, Mary of Guise. In 1548, at the age of six, she was betrothed to Francis, the Dauphin of France, and was sent to be brought up in France. Mary married Francis in 1558 when sixteen, becoming queen consort of France from his accession in 1559 until his death in December 1560. Upon her husband’s death, Mary returned to Scotland in August 1561.

Mary married her half-cousin, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, in 1565, and in 1566 they had a son, James VI. After Darnley orchestrated the murder of Mary’s Italian secretary and close friend and probable partner in adultery, David Rizzio, their marriage soured. In February 1567, Darnley’s residence was destroyed by an explosion, and he was found murdered in the nearby garden. James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, was generally believed to have orchestrated Darnley’s death, but he was acquitted of the charge in April 1567, and the following month he married Mary. Following an uprising against the couple, Mary was imprisoned in Lochleven Castle. On July 24, 1567, she was forced to abdicate in favor of her one-year-old son, James VI. After an unsuccessful attempt to regain the throne, she fled southward seeking the protection of her first cousin once removed, Elizabeth I of England. As a great-granddaughter of Henry VII of England, Mary had once claimed Elizabeth’s throne as her own and was considered the legitimate sovereign of England by many English Roman Catholics. Perceiving Mary as a threat, Elizabeth had her confined in various castles and manor houses in the interior of England. After eighteen-and-a-half years in captivity, Mary was found guilty of plotting to assassinate Elizabeth in 1586 and was beheaded the following year at the age of forty-four.

Early on Tuesday morning, August 19, 1561, soon after her return to Scotland, Mary, Queen of Scots, arrived at Lieth and made her way later that day to the Palace at Holyrood in Edinburgh. This occurred in the midst of the Scottish Reformation being led by John Knox. Mary, a devout Roman Catholic, wasted no time in imposing Roman Catholicism on the people. The following Sunday, August 24, she took the Mass in the Holyrood chapel from a Roman Catholic priest. John Knox, the powerful Presbyterian preacher and reformer, also wasted no time in speaking strongly and prophetically against Mary’s idolatrous action. He said in his sermon at St. Giles Presbyterian Church in Edinburgh on August 31 that God regularly brings great plagues on nations which practice idolatry. He said that he feared one Mass more than ten thousand soldiers whose purpose is to suppress the true religion. Many mocked his sermon, saying that such fear was unfounded, that it was improper for him to renounce idolatry by the Queen, that to do so was not his responsibility. Shortly thereafter, Queen Mary summoned Knox to Holyrood Palace and sought to silence him, first by intimidation and then by a woman’s greatest weapon—tears. To no avail. Knox had suffered imprisonment as a galley slave for two years. He was not about to be intimidated by any person, especially an idolatrous Queen. The portrait of their encounter hangs in my library and continues to be a great encouragement to me.


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