15th June 1567

Queen Mary’s husband escapes capture

James Hepburn, the 4th Earl of Bothwell, was implicated in the murder of Lord Darnley, the Catholic Queen Mary’s previous husband. Darnley had been killed at Kirk O’Field, close to Holyrood, after two barrels of gunpowder placed in the room below his were detonated. The explosions clearly hadn’t killed him, as his body – along with that of his valet – was found in a nearby orchard, having apparently been smothered.

Prime suspect

Bothwell was immediately identified as the prime suspect, and rumours had already been circulating that he and the queen had been intimate prior to her husband’s death. He was tried for Darnley’s murder, but the trial lasted just half a day and Bothwell was not convicted. This did nothing to help Mary’s reputation, as some suspected she may herself have been involved in her husband’s death.

Less than a fortnight later, Mary and Bothwell travelled together to Bothwell’s castle at Dunbar, where he said he would be able to keep her safe as her life was in danger. Within three weeks, they were married, which further angered many, leading to the Battle of Carberry Hill, close to Edinburgh, on 15 June 1567. This was the undoing of the couple.

Battle of Carberry Hill

The ‘battle’ was really a stand-off, at the end of which Mary surrendered and was captured by Darnley’s supporters, who were determined to avenge his death. Bothwell escaped. Mary was imprisoned, initially in Edinburgh, then in Fife, from where she escaped after almost a year in captivity and travelled to England. During her time in captivity, she had been forced to abdicate, making her son, the one-year-old James VI, King of Scotland.

Bothwell sailed to Shetland, then towards Scandinavia. He was captured and escorted to Norway, then sent to Denmark where he was imprisoned in Copenhagen. He spent the remainder of his life in prison, chained to a pillar, and eventually died in April 1578.



Other events that occured in June

FREE Scotland history newsletter

Don't miss our weekly update on Scotland's fascinating history. We promise never to sell your data to anyone else, and there's a super-easy unsubscribe link on the bottom of each email so you can leave whenever you want.