Death that gave birth to a mighty empire.
A IT seems unlikely. Despite being cousins and monarchs of two adjacent nations, they never actually met. Perhaps if they had sat down and shared a drink or two, history would have been completely different.
Q BUT surely, with Mary being a diehard Catholic and Elizabeth a flay-them-alive Protestant, they'd have detested each other?
ATHE religious divide wasn't as great as people think. The threat of Catholicism to the English throne was a serious one. But Mary was an extremely tolerant Catholic, while Elizabeth took great care to ensure that the Church of England didn't veer too far towards Protestant fundamentalism. She disliked Puritans more than Catholics.
Q WAS Elizabeth embarrassed about signing Mary's death warrant?
A YES. She insisted that the document be placed in a pile among other state papers so she could later claim to have signed it by mistake. Having put pen to paper, she is said to have joked about it, though that may have been bravado.
Q PRESUMABLY she could take come comfort from the fact that Mary's execution was quick and cleanly?
A DEPENDS what you call clean. The executioner actually botched the job and failed to cut off Mary's head with the first blow. He had to try again and even then didn't get it right. He had to finish the job by using the axe as a saw.
Q THAT must have given everyone a shock.
A NOT as much as the moment when he picked up the head to display it to the crowd. Mary's mane of red hair was a wig. He was left holding it as the head crashed to the ground.
Q WHAT happened to Mary's body after the execution?
AHER clothes were burned and her body was placed in a heavy lead casket and taken to Peterborough Cathedral for burial. It lay there for 25 years until her son James took the throne of England and ordered it to be moved to Westminster Abbey, where he built a magnificent tomb for her. That's where she now lies - near the body of Elizabeth.
Q WHAT happened to Fotheringhay Castle?
A JAMES was so angry about how his mother had been treated there that he had the castle demolished. All that is left of the place today is a mound covered with thistles.
Q DID Mary's execution have any consequences for Elizabeth?
A YES. England's old enemy, Spain, was also a Catholic country and the death of Mary prompted King Philip II to send the Spanish Armada against Elizabeth. It was soundly beaten by Sir Francis Drake, allowing England to go on and colonise the New World and begin to build what would ultimately become the British Empire.
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|Publication:||Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Date:||Apr 24, 1999|
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