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Queens, Crowns, and Conflicts: The Royal Ambitions of Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots

Weekend All-Day Lecture/Seminar

Saturday, April 27, 2024 - 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET
Code: 1M2317
This online program is presented on Zoom.
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Materials for this program

Official portrait of Elizabeth I (the “Darnley Portrait”), ca. 1575 (National Portrait Gallery, London)

One of the greatest battles of the late 16th century was the clash of two women who were cousins and rivals in power: Elizabeth I, Queen of England, and Mary, Queen of Scots. In a world ruled by men, they took center stage in a battle to the death over a prize only one could claim—the throne of England. Tudor and Renaissance scholar Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger explores how their epic political and personal battles finally led to a unified rule in England.

Lloyd-Stanger is former manager of visitor education at the Folger Shakespeare Library and author of The Tudors by the Numbers, published by Pen and Sword in 2023.

10–11:15 a.m.  England and Scotland: One Island, Two Kingdoms

The marriage of English princess Margaret Tudor to King James IV of Scotland in 1503 promised national unity, but instead led to one of the most dramatic power struggles of all time between Mary and Elizabeth.

11:30 a.m.–12:45 p.m.  The Early Years

Mary was born in December 1542 and became Queen of Scots just six days later. She was immediately sought by Henry VIII as a wife for young Prince Edward. Henry wasn’t the only one after the infant queen, and she eventually headed to France to be raised as future wife of the heir to the French throne. Meanwhile, Elizabeth lived in England but was often out of favor during the reigns of her father, half-brother, and half-sister. The two royals were moving close to new titles and new conflicts.

12:45–1:15 p.m.  Break

1:15–2:30 p.m.  Two Queens, Two Crowns

When Elizabeth inherited the English throne in 1558, Mary and her husband claimed it as well. Her husband’s reign in France was brief, and in 1561, Mary returned to rule Scotland. Elizabeth and Mary ruled as neighboring queens, sharing a border. Mary’s subsequent marriage to Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, literally blew up, leaving her baby son as king and Mary as a captive who fled Scotland and arrived in Elizabeth’s England in 1568.

2:45–4 p.m. Two Queens Battle for the Throne

When Mary’s country turned against her and forced her from the Scottish throne, she fled to England to seek refuge and assistance from her cousin Elizabeth. But Mary wanted more—the English crown. Her presence in England enflamed personal and political fury in Elizabeth and caused uproar around the world. Plots and treacheries spread, and a network of spies evolved to uncover them. At the heart of the intrigue were two women whose relationship and rivalry were deeply personal.

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