Perhaps it was spending her formative years in the French court that did it, but after the teenage widow came back to be Queen of Scots, she never seemed to understand that on this side of the Channel, people-power was on the rise, and royalty could no longer behave as they pleased.
JAMES V of Scotland enraged his uncle, Henry VIII of England, by refusing to support the spread of Protestantism, and paid for it with defeat at the Battle of Solway Moss in 1542.* James, broken-hearted, died shortly after, leaving his crown to his infant daughter Mary, barely a week old.
At the age of six, Mary was packed off to the French court, and in 1559 married the young King Francis II. Sadly, he died the following year; and now that the dowager Queen of Scots, Mary of Guise, was also gone, her sixteen-year-old Catholic daughter returned to Scotland to a decidedly chilly reception from the Protestant Lords of the Congregation who had assumed effective control.
But the poor judgment that was so characteristic of Mary now intruded. Her first mistake was marrying her handsome but peacock-vain cousin Henry Stewart, Earl of Darnley, in 1565; her second, having realised her folly, was to engage the equally handsome Italian musician David Rizzio as confidential secretary.
* Henry VII’s daughter Margaret, sister of Henry VIII, married James IV of Scotland in 1503. Their son James V married Mary of Guise in 1538, and Mary Queen of Scots was their daughter.
** After James IV died in 1513, his widow Margaret (Henry VII’s daughter) married Archibald Douglas. Their daughter Margaret Douglas married Matthew Stewart, Earl of Lennox, and Henry was their son. So Mary Queen of Scots and Henry Stewart were cousins.