IT is disappointing that the Edinburgh Dungeon’s Mary Stuart “experience” should apparently focus so strongly on the single event of her death at the hands of the English (Ideas sought for Mary’s bucket list, February 7).

Her execution took place in 1587 – 20 years after she had been forced to abdicate as the sovereign of Scotland in favour of her infant son, James VI.

For the last 19 of those years she had been imprisoned in remote English castles – so, though her death is a significant event in English history, its importance in Scottish history cannot be compared to that of her first 20 years, from birth to abdication.

In this first period, her life and the history of Scotland are so intertwined that neither can be understood except in the light of the other. And many of the events of this period were fully as dramatic – and bloody – as the circumstances of her death.

READ MORE: Ideas sought for Mary Queen of Scots' bucket list

This imbalance of interest is not new: most of the dozens of biographical books, plays, films and operas about her follow the same pattern. Josie Rourke’s 2018 film begins and ends with the familiar scenes in Fotheringhay Castle.

Scotland’s dramatists and film-makers are surely missing a golden opportunity here – just consider the happenings in the last two years of her reign.

In March 1566 a conspiracy of Protestant lords including Mary’s husband, Lord Darnley, murdered David Rizzio, a secretary and musician, at a dinner party in Holyrood palace, despite the Queen’s efforts to physically protect him. Mary was pregnant, and it was thought possible that Rizzio was the father.

READ MORE: What happened to Lord Darnley, Mary, Queen of Scots' husband?

Within two days, Mary had talked Darnley back on her side, and the pair escaped from Holyrood: within a week, she had regained royal authority.

The baby who became James VI was born in June, and in July Mary took her arduous cross-country ride from Jedburgh to the bleak fastness of Hermitage Castle to visit the Earl of Bothwell, who had been seriously wounded in a skirmish with border reivers. On her return, she was struck by a mysterious illness and was thought to have been only brought back from death by the efforts of her French physician.

By the end of November discussions (at Craigmillar Castle) about the “Darnley problem” with leading members of the Scottish nobility had produced the conspiracy which murdered the king in the garden of Kirk o’ Field, early in 1567.

In April of that year, Bothwell was tried for this murder before the Scottish Parliament, and acquitted. A few days later the Ainslie Tavern Bond committed a number of bishops, earls and Lords of Parliament to supporting Bothwell in his ambition to marry the Queen. He was already married.

At the end of the month, Bothwell and a body of his retainers “abducted” Mary on the open road as she returned to Edinburgh from what turned out to be her last contact with her son in Stirling Castle. On May 3 Bothwell obtained a divorce, on the basis of Mary’s sworn testimony of adultery (allegedly rape), and the pair were married on the 15th.

A month later, the “Confederate Lords” had assembled an army which confronted the forces of the Queen and Bothwell at Carberry Hill. At the end of a sweltering hot day, Mary refused to allow settlement of the issue by single combat, and surrendered herself to confinement in exchange for Bothwell’s escape.

A few days later, she was imprisoned on the island in Loch Leven, where she miscarried twins and where she was forced by her illegitimate half-brother, James Stewart, to abdicate in favour of her infant son. James became the Regent.

On May 2 1568, Mary escaped from Loch Leven and raised an army of several thousand troops, which was defeated at the Battle of Langside. Shortly afterwards, Mary crossed the Solway Firth to England in a small fishing boat, and her many years of English imprisonment began.

Attempts to recapture Bothwell began soon after his flight from Carberry, and culminated in a pursuit across the length of Scotland and a full-scale sea battle off Orkney. He fled again from there to Norway, where he was imprisoned, on the grounds of his breach of promise of marriage to Anna Thorendsen. The King of Denmark hoped to obtain a ransom for his return to Scotland, but this was not forthcoming, and Bothwell died insane in a dungeon, where he had been chained to a pillar for the last ten years of his life.

Surely there is enough material here not just for an epic film, or even a TV mini-series, but for a full-scale Star-Wars-style franchise?

Andrew Coulson