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Henry Stuart, King of Scots, (7 December 1545 – 10 February 1567), formerly 1st Duke of Albany formerly Earl of Ross, was a King Consort of Scotland.

However as the Queen of England resented the fact that one of her (former) subjects had been promoted in this manner and refused to recognize his Scots titles, many of the contemporary narratives describing his life and death (those written by English agents) refer to him as Lord Darnley, his English childhood title, and it is by this incorrect appellation that he is now generally known.

He was the first cousin and second husband of Mary I, Queen of Scots, and the father of her son King James VI, who also succeeded Queen Elizabeth I as King James I of England.

Early life

Darnley was born in 1545, at Temple Newsammarker, Leedsmarker, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England, the son of the 4th Earl of Lennox, and his wife, Margaret Douglas. His father lived in exile in England for 22 years, returning to Scotland in 1564.

Darnley was related to his future wife in at least four ways: they shared a grandmother in English princess Margaret Tudor (Mary descending from Margaret's marriage to James IV of Scotland, Darnley from Margaret's marriage to Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus), putting both Mary and Darnley high in the line of succession for the English throne; Darnley was a descendant of a daughter of James II of Scotland and thus also in line for the throne of Scotland; both were descendants of Joan Beaufort, Queen of Scotland (Mary through Joan's marriage to James I of Scotland, Darnley through her marriage to Sir James Stewart, the Black Knight of Lorn); and Darnley's family surname was due to a much more ancient connection to his male-line ancestor, Alexander Stewart, 4th High Steward of Scotland.

The marriage took place on Sunday 29 July 1565, in the Chapel-Royal of Palace of Holyroodhousemarker in Edinburghmarker. On the 30 July Darnley was given the title of King of Scots at a proclamation published at the Cross of Edinburgh, but he was King Consort only, with no royal powers.


His marriage to Mary, Queen of Scots, was a disaster. Henry was three years younger than Mary (their birthdays were only a day apart) and not particularly mature. He was unpopular with the other nobles and had a mean and violent streak, aggravated by a drinking problem. Within a short time, Mary became pregnant, but Henry grew more and more demanding. His jealousy of Mary's private secretary, David Rizzio, by whom it was said that Mary had become pregnant, culminated in the bloody murder of the latter by Henry and a group of his supporters, in the presence of the queen herself at The Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh. Archibald Douglas, Parson of Douglas, subsequently secured pardons for all those involved.
Following the birth of their son, the future James VI, the succession was more secure; in late 1566 and early 1567, Henry and Mary appeared to be close to reconciliation, as she was often seen visiting his chambers. But Henry was unpopular and petulant and offended many who should have been his natural supporters, and Mary became frustrated at his insistence that he be awarded the Crown Matrimonial. There was also some evidence that he suffered from syphilis. On 10 February 1567, the bodies of Henry and his servant at the time were discovered in the gardens of the Hamiltons' house, Kirk o' Fieldmarker, Edinburghmarker, where they had been staying. Henry was dressed only in his nightshirt, suggesting he had fled in some haste from his bedchamber. A violent explosion had occurred that night at the house, but the evidence pointed to Henry escaping attempted assassination, only to be murdered when he got outside. There was strong evidence that Henry and his valet had been strangled and that the explosion was set as an attempt to cover up the murders.


Suspicion fell on the Earl of Bothwell and his supporters, notably Archibald Douglas, Parson of Douglas, whose shoes were found at the scene, and upon Mary herself. Bothwell later "abducted" Mary (he had violently raped her in order to secure his marriage to Mary so that he may be king), and held her for a week, at the end of which she agreed to marry him.Henry's death was a key event in the downward spiral that led to her loss of the Scottish crown.

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles

  • 7 December 1545 – 15 May 1565: Master of Lennox (Scotland); Lord Darnley (English title)
  • 15 May – 20 July 1565: The Earl of Ross and Lord of Ardmanach.
  • 20–28 July 1565: The Duke of Albany
  • 28 July 1565 – 10 February 1567: His Grace The King of Scots
  • February 1565: Order of Saint Michael; the Scallop or Cockle-shell Order. This was conferred by the King of France.



  • Darnley: A Life of Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, Consort of Mary Queen of Scots by Caroline Bingham
  • Mary, Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord Darnley by Alison Weir

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