This article is about the Historical figure Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley (1545-1567) you may be looking for the Reign character Lord Darnley.

Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley (December 7, 1545 – February 10, 1567) was king consort of Scotland from 1565 until his murder at Kirk o' Field in 1567. Many contemporary narratives describing his life and death refer to him as Lord Darnley, his title as heir apparent to the Earldom of Lennox, and it is by this appellation that he is now generally known.

Early life & Childhood Edit

Lord Darnley was born on December 7, 1545, at Temple Newsam House, Leeds, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England. He was the 1st child of Lord Matthew Stewart, 4th Earl of Lennox and Lady Margaret Douglass, Countess of Lennox

Young Darnley was well educated and brought up conscious of his status and inheritance. He became well-versed in Latin and grew up familiar with Gaelic, English and French. He excelled in singing, lute playing, and dancing. His tutors included the Scottish scholar, John Elder, who had been an advocate of Anglo-Scottish union by a marriage of Mary, Queen of Scots, to Prince Edward, and gave his opinions to Henry VIII as the Advice of a Redshank in 1543. Another of his schoolmasters, Arthur Lallart, was interrogated in London after going to Scotland in 1562.

Darnley was strong and athletic, a good horseman with knowledge of weapons and a passion for hunting and hawking. Darnley wrote a letter to Mary I of England from Temple Newsam in March 1554 mentioning a drama or map he had made, the Utopia Nova. He wished "every hair in my head for to be a worthy soldier".

The Lennox Crisis Edit

The "Lennox crisis" was a political dilemma in England that arose from the dynastic ambition of the Lennoxes: Matthew Stewart, 4th Earl of Lennox, was third in line to the Scottish throne, and his wife Margaret Douglas was niece to Henry VIII and granddaughter of Henry VII. The Lennox family were Roman Catholic and might therefore have represented an alternative succession in England.

When Henry II of France died in July 1559, Lennox's brother John, 5th Sieur d'Aubigny, was elevated in the French court as kinsman of the new queen, Mary, Queen of Scots. Aubigny arranged for Darnley to be dispatched to the French court to congratulate Mary and Francis II of France on their accession and seek restoration for Lennox. Mary did not restore Lennox to his Scottish earldom, but she did give 1,000 crowns to Darnley and invited him to her coronation. Lennox's plan was to appeal directly to the Queen of Scots via her ambassador, over the heads of Elizabeth and the Guise.

Although the Lennox threat never died out, Elizabeth did not convict the family of treason in 1562 after their arrest nor did she encourage steps made to annul Margaret's claim to her throne for inquiring into her legitimacy. Perhaps, as has been suggested, Elizabeth feared that these investigations could also be directed at herself, or her inaction was intended merely to ensure the survival of the monarchy by not reducing the number of potential heirs. The Lennox family were released in February 1563, and within a few months, Darnley and his mother were conspicuous by their presence at Court and the favor they received there, although Elizabeth would not accommodate the earl at Court.

In September 1564, the Scottish Parliament restored Matthew Stewart's rights and titles as Earl of Lennox, and listened to a lengthy speech from the Queen's secretary William Maitland, who offered; "it may be affirmed Scotland in na manis age that presentlie levis wes in gritter tranquillitie."

Meeting & Marrying a Queen Edit

On February 3, 1565, Darnley left London and by February 12 he was in Edinburgh. On February 17, he presented himself at Wemyss Castle in Fife, where he met Mary, Queen of Scotland. James Melville of Halhill reported that "Her Majesty took well with him, and said that he was the lustiest and best proportioned long man that she had seen." After a brief visit to his father at Dunkeld, Darnley returned with Mary and the court to Holyrood on February 24. The next day, he heard John Knox preach, and he danced a galliard with Mary at night. From then on, he was constantly in Mary's company.

As a preliminary to the marriage, Darnley was made Lord of Ardmanoch and Earl of Ross at Stirling Castle on May 15, 1565.

On July 22, Darnley was made Duke of Albany in Holyrood Abbey, and the banns of marriage were called in the parish of Canongate. A proclamation was made at the Cross of Edinburgh on July 28 that government would be in the joint names of the king and queen of Scots, thus giving Darnley equality with, and precedence over, Mary. This was confirmed in the circulation of a silver ryal in the names of Henry and Mary.

On July 29, 1565, Mary, Queen of Scotland and Lord Darnley were married by Roman Catholic rites in Mary's private chapel at Holyrood, but Darnley (whose religious beliefs were unfixed – he was raised as a Catholic, but was later influenced by Protestantism) refused to accompany Mary to the nuptial mass after the wedding itself.

Match NOT made in Heaven Edit

Soon after their wedding, Mary became aware of his vain, arrogant and unreliable qualities, which threatened the well-being of the state. Henry was unpopular with the other nobles and had a violent streak, aggravated by his drinking. Mary refused to grant Darnley the Crown Matrimonial, which would have made him the successor to the throne if she died childless.

We're having a baby Edit

In August 1565, less than a month after they were married, Mary and Lord Darnley discovered that she was pregnant.

On June 19, 1566, Mary gave birth to a son at Edinburgh Castle. On December 17, 1566, Mary and Lord Darnley's son was baptized Charles James in a Catholic ceremony held at Stirling Castle. His godparents were Charles IX of France (Son of Henry II & Catherine de Medici), Elizabeth I of England and Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy.

Mary refused to let the Archbishop of St Andrews, whom she referred to as "a pocky priest", spit in the child's mouth, as was then the custom. Following the birth of James, the succession was more secure; in late 1566 and early 1567, Darnley and Mary appeared to be close to reconciliation, as she was often seen visiting his chambers. Darnley, however, alienated many who would otherwise have been his supporters through his erratic behavior. His insistence that he be awarded the Crown Matrimonial was still a source of marital frustration.

Murder Edit

During the weeks leading up to his death, Darnley was recovering from a bout of smallpox (or, it has been speculated, syphilis). He was described as having deformed pocks upon his face and body. He stayed with his family in Glasgow, until Mary brought him to recuperate at Old Provost's lodging at Kirk o' Field, a two-story house within the church quadrangle, a short walk from Holyrood, with the intention of incorporating him into the court again.

Darnley stayed at Kirk o' Field while Mary attended the wedding of Bastian Pagez, one of her closest servants, at Holyrood. Around 2 am on the night of February 10, 1567, while Mary was away, two explosions rocked the foundation of Kirk o' Field. These explosions were later attributed to two barrels of gunpowder that had been placed in the small room under Darnley's sleeping quarters. Darnley's body and the body of his valet William Taylor, were found outside, surrounded by a cloak, a dagger, a chair and a coat. Darnley was dressed only in his nightshirt, suggesting he had fled in some haste from his bedchamber.

Upon further examination, the bodies had no signs of injuries that could be associated with the explosion, so the blast was not considered to have killed Darnley. It was determined that the two men were killed by strangulation, believed to have taken place after the explosion.

Who killed Lord Darnley? Edit

After the death of Mary's husband, suspicion quickly fell on the Earl of Bothwell and his supporters, notably Archibald Douglas, Parson of Douglas, whose shoes were found at the scene, and on Mary herself. Bothwell had long been suspected of having designs on the throne, and his close relationship with the queen gave rise to rumors they were sexually intimate. This was viewed as a motive for Bothwell to have Darnley murdered, with help from some of the nobility and seemingly with royal approval. Mary had been looking at options for removing Darnley, though her ideas were for divorce, and none were suitable.

Soon after Darnley's death, Bothwell and Mary left Edinburgh together. There are two points of view about the circumstances: in the first, Bothwell kidnapped the queen, took her to Dunbar Castle, and raped her. In the second, Mary was a willing participant in the kidnapping, and the story of rape was a fabrication, so her honor and reputation were not ruined by her marriage to a man widely suspected of murder. Mary later miscarried twins by Bothwell.

Suspicions that Mary colluded with conspirators in her husband's death or that she took no action to prevent his death were key factors in the downward spiral that led to Mary's loss of the Scottish crown. The Casket letters, alleged to have been written by Mary, seemed to indicate her support for the killing. The letters were purportedly found by James Douglas, 4th Earl of Morton in Edinburgh in a silver box engraved with an F (supposedly for Francis II), along with a number of other documents, including the Mary-Bothwell marriage certificate. Before Morton's execution in 1581, he admitted having knowledge of the murder plot, and that Bothwell and Archibald Douglas were "chief actors" in Darnley's murder.

A soldier under the pay of Bothwell, William Blackadder of the Clan Blackadder, was allegedly the first non-participant to happen upon the scene, and for that reason was treated as a suspect. Although initially cleared of any involvement in the murder, he was offered up by the conspirators and convicted at a show trial, after which he was executed by being hanged, drawn and quartered before each of his limbs was nailed to the gates of a different Scottish town.

Not long after that, both Mary and Bothwell were charged with Henry's murder. They were given separate trials in England. Bothwell was found not guilty. Mary's trial took longer, ending with no definitive finding. Mary was kept in captivity until she was implicated in the Babington plot against Elizabeth, after which she was convicted of treason and executed.


  • Lady Margaret Douglass, Countess of Lennox: Henry's mother
  • Matthew Stewart, 4th Earl of Lennox: Henry's father
  • Lord Darnleyy with his wife Mary, Queen of Scotland
  • Prince James of Scotland: son of Mary and Lord Darnley
  • Princess Margaret Tudor: Henry's Maternal Grandmother
  • Archibald Douglass, 6th Earl of Angus: Henry's Maternal Grandfather
  • Temple Newsam House, Henry was born here on December 7, 1545
  • John Stewart, 3rd Earl of Lennox: Henry's Paternal Grandfather
  • Elizabeth Stewart, Countess of Lennnox: Henry's Paternal Grandmother
  • Coat of Arms of Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley
  • King James V & Queen Marie de Guise: Henry's father and mother in law
  • The murder of Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley on February 10, 1567

References Edit

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