Who Was … Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley?


Name: Henry Stuart

Title/s: Lord Darnley / King Consort of Scotland

Birth: 7th December 1545 at Temple Newsam, Yorkshire, England

Death: 10th February 1567 at Kirk O’Field, Edinburgh, Scotland

Burial: 14th February 1567 at Holyrood Abbey, Scotland

Spouse: Mary Queen of Scots 1542-1587, married 1565

Children: James VI of Scotland 1566-1625

Parents: Matthew Stewart, 4th Earl of Lennox 1516-1571 & Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox 1515-1578

Siblings: Charles Stuart, 1st Earl of Lennox 1557-1576

Noble Connections: Through his mother, Margaret Douglas, Henry Stuart is the grandson of Margaret Tudor and thus the great-grandson of Henry VII of England. His maternal relations aside from the Tudors are the Earls of Angus. His paternal relations are the Earls of Lennox and Atholl.

Controversy: The main controversy over the life of Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, is how he died. His body and that of his valet were found in Kirk O’Field, where they had been staying. There was the sound of an explosion early in the morning, later attributed to barrels of gunpowder left in the room underneath Darnley’s. The pair were found in the orchard having fled the scene and Darnley appeared to have been smothered.

Works of Fiction:

  • Jesse Blackadder, The Raven’s Heart (2012)
  • Elizabeth Byrd, Immortal Queen (1956)
  • Caleb Carr, The Italian Secretary (2005)
  • Carolly Erickson, The Memoirs of Mary Queen of Scots (2009)
  • Margaret George, Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles (1992)
  • Philippa Gregory, The Other Queen (2008)
  • Barbara Kyle, Blood Between Queens (2013)
  • Carolyn Meyer, The Wild Queen (2012)
  • Steven Veerapen, The Queen’s Consort (2018)

Portrayals on Screen:

  • Timothy Dalton, Mary Queen of Scots, 1971, directed by Charles Jarrott
  • Will Kemp, Reign, 2017, 16 episodes
  • Jack Lowden, Mary Queen of Scots, 2018, directed by Josie Rourke
  • Douglas Walton, Mary of Scotland, 1936, directed by John Ford

Further Reading:

  • Jane Dunn, Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens (2003)
  • Antonia Fraser, Mary Queen of Scots (1969)
  • John Guy, Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart (2004)
  • Linda Porter, Crown of Thistles: The Fatal Inheritance of Mary Queen of Scots (2013)
  • Alison Weir, Mary Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord Darnley (2003)
  • Lord Darnley in his late teens by an unknown artist
  • Lord Darnley aged about 9 by Hans Eworth
  • Lord Darnley and Mary Queen of Scots c. 1565
  • Arms of Henry Stuart Lord Darnley

Author: Helene Harrison

I have an MA in History, with a thesis entitled 'The Many Faces of Anne Boleyn: Perceptions in History, Literature and Film'. I have an interest in the Tudors and the Wars of the Roses along with my love of reading and literature.

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