A NEW book has been published on Mary, Queen of Scots, focusing on the time she spent in captivity in England after being forced to abdicate.

It follows the captive Scots queen all the way to the executioner’s block, through 19 years of “sewing and sedition”, looking for the first time at the lives and loves of those English courtiers responsible for guarding Mary during the period 1568-87.

Imprisoning Mary Queen of Scots: The Men Who Kept the Stuart Queen, published by Pen & Sword Books, was written by Mickey Mayhew, who wrote his PhD thesis about Mary and Anne Boleyn, and is the author of multiple books for both Pen & Sword and The History Press.

The National: The book explores Mary, Queen of Scots's time in captivityThe book explores Mary, Queen of Scots's time in captivity (Image: unknown)


Mary’s claim to the English throne made her a mortal enemy of her cousin Elizabeth and set them on a collision course only one would survive.

Mary’s calamitous personal life, encompassing assassinations, kidnaps and abdications, sent her careering into England and right into the lap of Henry VIII’s shrewd but insecure daughter.

Having no choice but to keep Mary under lock and key, Elizabeth entrusted this task to some of the most capable and richest men and women in England – Sir Francis Knollys, Ralph Sadler (prominently featured in Wolf Hall), the Earl of Shrewsbury and his wife Bess of Hardwick, and finally, the puritanical Sir Amyas Paulet.

Pen & Sword says that until now, these nobles have been mere bit-players in Mary’s story.

From Carlisle Castle to Fotheringhay, these loyal subjects all but bankrupted themselves in keeping the deposed Scots queen imprisoned, while fending off countless escape plots – which Mary herself often orchestrated.

With the sort of twist history excels at, it was actually a honeytrap escape plot set up by Elizabeth’s ministers that finally saw Mary brought to the executioner’s block.

The book explains how Shrewsbury and Bess saw their marriage wrecked by Mary’s legendary charms, and how Paulet ended up making a guest appearance on Most Haunted, some several hundred years after his death.

In that theme, the book also covers the appearances of these men and women on film and TV, in novels and also the various other Mary-related media that keeps the legend of this most misunderstood of monarchs so perfectly simmering.