The Douglas Archives

A collection of historical and genalogical records

Letter from Mary, Queen of Scots to the French Ambassador to England

This letter was sent to the French ambassador to England less than two months following Mary's daring escape from Lochleven castle on the 2nd May 1568, where she had been imprisoned following her forced abdication in favour of the infant James VI. Mary's escape from Lochleven was aided by George Douglas, the brother of the landowner, Sir William Douglas. George Douglas, and an orphaned cousin, William Douglas, who had also aided Mary's escape, followed her to 'freedom'. When Mary headed to England to seek refuge from her relative, Queen Elizabeth I, she was apprehended by Richard Lowther, the Deputy Governor of Cumberland, and escorted to Carlisle Castle, officially as a free woman, although she was placed under armed guard.

In a secretarial hand, the letter reads:

"Monsieur de La Forest nous vous avons prié par Monsr de Montmorin de faire prester a ce gentilhomme p[rese]nt porteur nomme Monsr Douglas la somme de trois cens escuz lesquelz nous vous prions acest heure de rechef luy fere donner pour fere son voyaige en France et nous les ferons randre atel terme que lon vouldra mais si daventure passeport luy est reffuzé en quoy nous vous prions de soliciter la Royne affin quil passe oultre ou pour le moins que Me Henry Crier passe auquel il vous plaise fere prester la somme de soixante escuz et nous la paierons vous priant descripre pour luy en France ainsi commis par creance comme luy avons donné charge de le vous dire qui sera fin ou je priray Dieu vous avoir en sa garde..."

With lines added in Mary's own hand:

"Je vous pries favorises se porteur ou il va & solisites son passeport & que le Roy lui donne en ma faveur quelque honeste entretien il vous envora Kiwons comuniquer sa charge si il nose lui mesmes Vous lui donneres votre bon conseil Votre bien bonne amye Marie"

On the 20th May, Mary wrote that she had been "right well received and honourably accompanied and treated", upon her arrival in England. However, by the 26th June, Mary's mood had deteriorated. She charged George Douglas with carrying two letters from her to France, to King Charles IX and Catherine de Medici. In her letter to King Charles, Mary wrote:

"Monsieur, my good brother, Seeing that,
contrary to my hopes, the injustice of this queen,
or, at least of her council, is preparing for me
a much longer sojourn here, than I could wish
(if it does not please you to provide a remedy),
as you will see by the reports of the Sieur de
Montmorin..."

The letter, sent from "Carlel" (Carlisle), dated 26th June 1568, addressed to Monsieur de la Forest "ambassadeur pour le roy [sic.] en angleterre", on one leaf addressed to reverse, 12 lines written in a secretarial hand with 6 lines in Mary's own hand and signed "Votre bien bonne amye, Marie" asks the French ambassador to Queen Elizabeth to lend Douglas, the bearer of these letters, 300 écus and to intercede with the French Royal family, in order to ensure Douglas's passage to France.

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