Francis II of France Dies: Mary, Queen of Scots Returns Home

by AlexandriaIngham

On December 5, 1560, Mary, Queen of Scots became a widow. Her first husband, Francis II of France died at the age of 16.

After almost a lifetime in France, Mary, Queen of Scots was forced to return home. Her husband, Francis II of France, died on December 5, 1560. He was just 16 at the time of his death from an ear infection, and Mary went into mourning wearing the French traditional white to show that.

It would have been a difficult time for Mary. Not only had she lost her husband, but just over a year before that she had lost her father figure, Henri II of France. She was now faced with returning to a country that she didn’t know. Scotland had reformed to the Protestant religion between her leaving and her return, but she was still a devout Catholic.

The Marriage of Francis and Mary

Mary married Francis just over two years before his death in 1560.

The marriage of Mary, Queen of Scots, and Francis II of FranceThose who have seen Reign on the CW will not really know the full truth. The relationship between Francis and Mary was unlikely anything like the show has portrayed. To start with, Francis and Mary certainly didn’t speak with posh British accents. Both would have grown up with French accents as they were raised in the French court.

Another fact is that Mary was much taller than her husband, and Francis was a sickly child. Mary didn’t have children with her first husband, but it was highly unlikely to be problems with her. Considering how sickly Francis was as a child, he was likely impotent. After all, Mary did go on to have children with her second husband, Henry Stuart.

Francis and Mary married in 1558. Their life together was overshadowed by him being the heir to the French throne. It seemed unlikely that he would have been king, except that Henri died in a jousting accident in 1559. Mary soon became the Queen Consort of France, and the 15-year-old Francis was King of Scotland.

The Short Reign of Francis and Mary

Francis and Mary only enjoyed a short reign of just over a year due to his death.

Despite the age of consent being 14 in France, Francis was not allowed to reign. It seemed that his mother, Catherine de Merdici knew that her son would not be able to cope with being king. The government was placed in the hands of Mary’s House of Guise uncle, who were staunch supporters of the Catholic religion.

This could have been problematic for the country. The Protestants were starting to rise up, something that has been covered well so far in Reign. Francis was unable to control the uprising, which overshadowed the reigns of both his brothers who ended up taking the throne after him.

It did make sense to allow the House of Guise take over, though. Both of Mary’s uncles from that side of the family had good relationships with Henri. At first, Francis wanted his ministers to follow the orders of his mother, but she was still mourning the death of her husband and decided that it was best that they take orders from someone who would be able to give them clearly.

Francis, Duke of Guise, was one of the royal army’s most infamous commanders, while Charles, Cardinal of Lorraine, was great for negotiating on religious matters. The two brothers even split the duties well, with the duke taking the military command and the cardinal taking over diplomacy, justice and finance.

A Palace Revolution

Francis revolutionised the whole French court in favor of his uncles by marriage from the House of Guise.

It was not just France that was going through the beginnings of a revolution. The French court went through one, too. Before Henri’s death, Diane de Poitiers was a common aspect of the court. She was Henri’s mistress, and had a prominent place at court. However, Francis seemed to take his mother’s feelings into account.

Diane was asked to leave court and never return. Those she had removed from positions, including Francis Olivier, were returned. Jean Bertrand, Diane’s protégé, was removed from the position of Keeper of the Seals of France, much to Diane’s dislike.

It made it very difficult for Anne de Montmorency, who was the Constable of France at the time. However, he did keep some power by staying on the good side of his new king. The problem was that Francis wanted to give the Guises new privileges and favours. One of those was the Grand Master of France title, previously held by the Constable’s son, Francis of Monmorency.

More Articles About Mary, Queen of Scots

James V of Scotland died on December 14, 1542. It led to a six week old Mary, Queen of Scots.
On July 10, 1559, Mary, Queen of Scots, became the Queen Consort of France. Her reign lasted around 18 months before she returned to Scotland.
Mary, Queen of Scots sought refuge in England after being imprisoned in Scotland. Instead of help, Elizabeth I imprisoned her. To understand why, her past needs to be explained.
On July 29, 1565, Mary, Queen of Scots, married Lord Darnley. He was her cousin through Margaret Tudor and their marriage became important for James VI of Scotland.

The Secret Pact With Scotland

Mary's marriage to Francis was not favourable to the Scottish people.

Mary, Queen of Scots, agreed to Scotland becoming part of France if she died without an heir.When Mary married Francis, she signed a secret pact. Scotland would become part of France if she died without an heir to the throne. Marie of Guise, Mary’s mother, used this relationship to her advantage when she was forced out of Edinburg by the Scottish lords congregation. In May 1559, Marie asked France for help, and troops were sent. Scotland was back in French control by the end of 1559.

However, it was not enough. Francis’ death meant that the pact signed by Mary was no longer valid. Just before that, the Scottish parliament drew up the Treaty of Edinburgh, which would bring Protestantism to the country. Mary refused to sign it, but eventually the country changed anyway.

The Death of Francis II

How did Francis II die?

Francis’ health deteriorated quickly from November 1560 onwards. He had a syncope on November 16, and died just 19 days later. Reports say that he died of an ear condition, with some suggesting that it was meningitis, mastoiditis and even otitis that turned into an abscess.

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There were suspicions that Protestants poisoned the Catholic king. However, there is no proof of this. It would also have made no sense considering the House of Guise pretty much ruled over France and not the young king. Killing Francis meant that his younger brother Charles would become king, and he would be even more influenced by Catholics.

Charles became king at just 10 years old. His mother, Catherine, was named regent, and the Guises left court. Mary returned to Scotland as a widow. On December 23 of that same year, Francis was buried at Saint-Denis.

Updated: 12/05/2014, AlexandriaIngham
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


Guest on 12/07/2014

I always feel kind of sorry for Mary because of the fact she was beheaded. I don't think she deserved that.

WriterArtist on 12/05/2014

Royal marriages are tough, more tough are their lives. I could see how difficult Mary's life was with her husbands early death and the circumstances in France.

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