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Darnley, Henry Stewart, Lord

Darnley, Henry Stewart, Lord (1545–67). The son of Matthew Stewart, 4th earl of Lennox, and grandson of Margaret Tudor, Darnley's place in the English succession was second only to that of Mary Stuart. His father was forfeited for treason in 1544 and Darnley born and brought up in England. In 1564, however, Mary restored Lennox and the arrival of Darnley in Scotland the following year was swiftly followed by their marriage by catholic rite on 29 July 1565. The marriage incensed Elizabeth but provoked in Scotland only a minor rebellion of disaffected protestant nobles, led by Moray, which she declined to support and which rapidly fizzled out. Within months, stability was restored, Mary was pregnant, and the Stuart dynasty's future seemed assured. But Darnley's good looks, while initially captivating Mary, masked a meretricious personality and his relations with the queen soon soured. Mary's refusal to grant him the crown matrimonial drove him to ally with the disaffected nobles who had opposed the marriage and who carefully implicated him in the Rizzio murder of March 1566, a protestant demonstration against the prospect of a catholic royal succession which achieved very little. The future James VI was born on 19 June and baptized a catholic on 17 December. The rift between Mary and Darnley, briefly healed following the Rizzio affair, now widened beyond repair. Darnley pointedly missed his son's lavish baptismal celebrations and the political isolation resulting from his betrayal of his fellow Rizzio conspirators was compounded by Mary's increasing dependence on Bothwell. It remains unclear who murdered Darnley at Kirk o' Field, Edinburgh, on 10 February 1567, or whether Mary was party to the deed. Her precipitate marriage to Bothwell, however, handed the Lennox Stewarts a gift-wrapped opportunity to gild Darnley's memory at Mary's expense.

Roger A. Mason

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Henry Stewart

Henry Stewart. See Darnley, Lord.

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