GLASGOW University’s new course on Mary Queen of Scots is an admirable project, but the question arises: why only her? Mary has always, and very understandably, captured our imagination as a romantic and tragic figure; but her actual importance in the political and cultural history of Scotland is slight (More than half of UK ‘can’t identify Mary Queen of Scots, Nov 22).

Where are the courses designed to enhance public awareness and understanding of far more significant, and no less colourful, figures among our monarchs? What of James I, who restored internal order and international respect to Scotland after decades of misrule, or James IV, who presided over the period in which Scotland’s late-mediaeval artistic culture reached its high-water mark; or, from an earlier period, William the Lion, who by the end of a long and turbulent reign had overcome threats to the independence of the kingdom and recovered the northern counties from Norse control?

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Why not a course on the life and times of Macbeth, to rectify the travestied image we know from Shakespeare? “Afterlife” could figure prominently in this course, since the incremental blackening of Macbeth’s character and reputation by successive historians is a story in itself.

Of Queen Mary as an individual, as Gavin Douglas wrote of Dido, “Quha may endyte bot teris, with eyen drye?” But on any showing the attention she receives is wildly disproportionate to her importance in the history of the Scottish kingdom.

Derrick McClure