This article is about the Historical figure David Rizzio (c.1533-March 9, 1566) you may be looking for the Reign character David Rizzio.

David Rizzio Italian: David Riccio di Pancalieri(c. 1533 – March 9, 1566) was an Italian courtier, born close to Turin, a descendant of an ancient and noble family still living in Piedmont, the Riccio Counts di San Paolo e Solbrito, who rose to become the private secretary of Mary, Queen of Scotland.

Introduction at Scottish Court Edit

David Rizzio went first from Turin to the Court of the Duke of Savoy, then at Nice. However, finding no opportunities for advancement there, he found means to get himself admitted into the train of the Count de Moretto in 1561, who was about to lead an embassy to Scotland. The Court in Scotland had no employment for Rizzio, and dismissed him. He ingratiated himself with the Queen's musicians, whom she had brought with her from France. James Melville, a personal friend of Rizzio, said that "Her Majesty had three valets in her chamber, who sung three parts, and wanted a bass to sing the fourth part". Thus, he was drawn into her court.

Advancement & Secret Lovers? Edit

He was considered a good musician, and an excellent singer, which first brought him to the attention of the cosmopolitan young Queen. Towards the end of 1564, having grown wealthy under her patronage, he became the Queen's secretary for relations with France, after the previous occupant of the post retired there. This post attracted a quarterly salary of £20. David was ambitious, and saw himself as all but a Secretary of State. He was also a Catholic and a foreigner to boot, Rizzio, it was felt, was too close to the Queen. Rumors became rife that Mary was having an adulterous affair with Rizzio.

Murder Edit

David Rizzio was stabbed 56 times on March 9, 1566 by Lord Darnley and his friends. He was accused of leaving the Queen pregnant.

Why Murder?Edit

Jealousy was a huge motivator which led to his murder in the Queen's presence, in her supper chamber in the Palace of Holyroodhouse after the royal guards were quickly overpowered and the palace was turned over to the control of the rebels.

The Queen was seven months pregnant (with James VI) at the time. Having burst into the Queen's private dining room, the rebels, led by Patrick Ruthven, 3rd Lord Ruthven, demanded Rizzio be handed over. The Queen refused; Rizzio then hid behind Mary but was nevertheless seized and stabbed to death in the presence of the Queen.

After this violent struggle, Rizzio was stabbed an alleged 56 times, before being thrown down the main staircase and stripped of his jewels and fine clothes. He was buried within two hours in the cemetery of Holyrood. Buchanan and Daniel state that shortly afterwards his body was removed by the Queen's orders and deposited in the sepulchre of the Kings of Scotland; a measure most impolitic, as it strengthened the previous reports of her familiarity with him. Rumors were thrown around as to why this happened to Rizzio – most claim Darnley was jealous.

What happened After? Edit

Robert Melville arrived in Edinburgh from London and reported back to Elizabeth and Cecil on the aftermath of the murder. He noted that Morton, Lord Ruthven, and Lord Lindsay had fled, and William Maitland of Lethington, the Clerk Register James Balfour, the Justice Clerk John Bellenden, and some gentlemen of Lothian who were suspected of having knowledge of the plan had fled. Mary had escaped from Edinburgh to Dunbar Castle

Rizzio's brother, Joseph, arrived in Scotland with Michel de Castelnau and was appointed secretary in David's place by 25 April 1566. Joseph and an Italian colleague, Joseph Lutyni, had some trouble over coins taken from the queen's purse, and in April 1567 he was accused and acquitted with Bothwell of Darnley's murder.


  • The murder of David Rizzio on March 9, 1566
  • Coat of Arms of Turin, Italy: David's hometown
  • Flag of Turin, Italy

References Edit

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