Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Death of a queen...

Another cozy night indoors…

I know it's Christmas when I actually enjoy staying indoors more often. My main highlights of the week include me vegging out and watching films and erm...vegging out and watching films. I'm beginning to think I'm turning into a couch potato or maybe I'm more of a couch potato than I’d like to admit!

I spent last night watching the entire series of David Starkey's documentaries on the six wives of Henry VIII. I've always had some fascination with this area of history. I think this primarily stems from childhood memories of visiting places like Hampton Court Palace on school trips (and puking during the coach journey back home much to the horror of the classmate I was sitting next to at the time- my sincere apologies…). The idea of some tyrannical larger than life king killing his wives is compelling stuff for an 8 year old! I understand most of it was sensationalist melodrama befitting for a class of easily distractible 8-year-olds but the grand history behind the Tudor dynasty is utterly fascinating. There's sex, violence, drama, love, death- EVERYTHING.

Last night I also watched a documentary exploring the relationship between Elizabeth I and Mary Queen Of Scots. It was a bit of a Tudor history marathon last night in the X-Bird house!

Executions were commonplace in Tudor England. Henry VIII was obviously infamous for beheading two of his wives but what I found most intriguing was the execution of Mary Queen of Scots. I think my fascination with her demise stems from trying grasp and understand how she endured 24 years of imprisonment before her death warrant was finally signed by Elizabeth I. It was reported that her death warrant was signed with much trepidation. A trepidation, not born out of remorse but from the predicted repercussions of how signing such a warrant could affect the political sphere for England and Elizabeth I at the time. The religious/political climate during the time of Mary Queen of Scots’ execution put Britain in a state of unrest, her death would again be a tactical execution but could also give way to more political uprisings against Elizabeth and spur revenge from Mary’s son who would later be James I and unite Great Britain.

Mary Queen Of Scots was a tragic queen whose royal career was one tragic blunder after another, it was only at the time of her trial and subsequent execution that she seemed to carry the strength and composure of a woman in absolute power.

Mary Queen Of Scots appeared on the scaffold on 8 February 1587 and with the composure and dignity befitting of a queen knelt gracefully by the block awaiting her fate. It took two blows of the axe to severe Mary’s head from her body. The first blow striking the back of her head, at which point she was reported to have cried, 'Sweet Jesus!'. As her head fell away from her body after the second blow a small thread of flesh remained where her head once was. This was later cut away from her body as the executioner used his axe as a saw! Mary Queen of Scots’ head was then held up by her infamous auburn tresses, her lips apparently still moving. It was later reported that her lips moved for 15 minutes in what some regarded as, 'in silent prayer'. As her head was held high to the executioner’s cries of, 'GOD SAVE THE QUEEN', Mary’s severed head then fell to the ground. People were shocked to find that the auburn hair that the executioner held on to was in fact a wig. Her auburn hair being a symbol of her infamous beauty had become after 24 years of imprisonment, short, grey and stubbled. At this point cries were then heard coming from underneath Mary's skirts. Under the folds and layers of her clothing Mary’s lap dog was found covered in blood, mourning her master's demise. The dog then later, unable to overcome the death of her master, refused to eat and died soon after...


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