Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Keaton from Lake Wales. Keaton Wonders, “What was the Babington Plot?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Keaton!

Would you like to be a queen? Or a king? What do you think it would be like? You might imagine having servants at your beck and call. You would have access to just about anything you wanted. Would you dine on the best food? Relax in the greatest luxury?

Well, maybe. If you look at history, you’ll learn that being a queen or king isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be. Don’t believe us? Just ask Mary, Queen of Scots.

Mary, Queen of Scots, was born in Scotland in 1542. When she was only six days old, her father, King James V, died. Mary immediately became Queen Mary I of Scotland—an infant queen. 

Mary I’s mother, also called Mary, ruled Scotland on Mary I’s behalf. She sent Mary I to France when she was five years old. There, she eventually married Prince Francis, who became King Francis II. That meant Mary I was the queen of both Scotland and France! However, only a year into his rule, Francis II died. 

But Mary I’s bad luck didn’t end there. She returned to Scotland to find that she was an outcast. Having lived most of her life in France, Mary I was the queen of a country she didn’t really understand. She was also Catholic, while most of Scotland was Protestant. This made many of her own people distrust her. 

After several tense years, Mary I gave up her throne in favor of her son, who became King James VI of Scotland. Scotland’s nobility imprisoned her in 1567, but Mary I escaped in 1568. She raised an army to take back her throne but was defeated.

Desperate, Mary appealed to her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I of England. Elizabeth I, though, was unsure what to do with Mary. She was apprehensive because, as the granddaughter of Henry VII of England, Mary I had a claim to the English throne. In fact, she had been a contender to the throne before Elizabeth I’s ascension.

Elizabeth I decided to imprison Mary, Queen of Scots. This lasted for 18 years. Eventually, Mary I proved that she was not to be trusted. What happened? An event that’s known today as the Babington Plot.

In 1586, Anthony Babington was a page who served Mary I in her captivity. He was contacted by John Ballard, who informed him of a plot to do away with Elizabeth I and put Mary I on the throne of England. Babington communicated the plot to Mary, who seemed to give approval in later letters.

But they’d been set up. The entire plot was a lie. It was put together by Sir Francis Walsingham. He wanted to show Elizabeth I that she could not trust her cousin. Babington and several others involved in the plot were arrested and executed in September 1586.

Still, Queen Elizabeth I seemed hesitant to execute Mary, Queen of Scots. She imprisoned Mary in Fotheringhay Castle as she faced trial. Finally, in February 1587, Elizabeth I issued a death warrant for Mary I. Mary claimed innocence to the very end.

Years later, Elizabeth I passed away. Queen Mary I of Scotland’s son, James, inherited her throne in 1603. That means James was the king of both England and Scotland. He ruled over both countries until 1625. 

What do you think? Is being royal all it’s cracked up to be? A life of luxury might be worth it. That is, unless you’re eventually set up for failure, like Mary I was in the Babington Plot. Still, it can be fun to dream! What would your life be like as a queen or king?

Standards: C3.D2.His.2, C3.D2.His.4, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2, CCRA.W.3, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2

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