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Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley

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Henry Stewart (or Stuart, although that is technically incorrect) (1545-1567), Lord Darnley, king consort of Scotland, was the first-cousin and second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, and the father of her son James VI of Scotland, who became James I of England.

Darnley was born on December 7, 1545, at Temple Newsham in Yorkshire, the son of Matthew Stewart, 4th Earl of Lennox[?], and his wife Margaret Douglas. Margaret being the daughter of Margaret Tudor (by her second husband), and hence granddaughter of King Henry VII of England, Darnley was descended from the royal houses of both England and Scotland, and by the time of his marriage to Mary on July 29, 1565, was second in line to the Scottish throne after Mary herself. On their marriage, which took place in the chapel of Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Darnley was given the title of "King of Scotland," but he was a king consort only, with no royal powers.

The marriage was a disaster. Darnley was younger than Mary and not particularly mature for a nineteen-year-old. He was unpopular with the other nobles and had a mean and violent streak. Within a short time, Mary became pregnant, but Darnley grew more and more demanding. His jealousy of Mary's private secretary, David Rizzio, culminated in the bloody murder of the latter by Darnley and a group of his friends, in the presence of the queen herself at Holyrood House. Following the birth of her son, the future James VI of Scotland, the succession was more secure, and Mary turned to a friend, James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, for help. On February 10, 1567, Darnley's body was discovered in the gardens of the Provost's House, Edinburgh, where he had been staying. An explosion had occurred that night at the house, but the evidence pointed to Darnley's having escaped that attempted assassination only to be murdered when he got outside. Suspicion fell on Bothwell and on Mary herself, who shortly married Bothwell, and Darnley's death was a key event in the downward spiral that led to her loss of the Scottish crown.



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