stuart monarchy


On March 24th, in 1603, Elizabeth I died at Richmond Palace between two and three in the morning after having been Queen for a total of 44 years, 127 days. She was the last ruler of the Tudor Dynasty and is still considered to be one of England’s most popular monarchs.

Throughout her life, she had infamously never married or had any children, leading to her nickname of “The Virgin Queen”. Elizabeth was succeeded on the throne by her 1st cousin twice removed, James VI of Scotland, who was the great-grandson of her father’ sister Margaret. He would rule in England as James I, becoming the first monarch of the House of Stuart.


Today in history - The Execution of Mary Stuart

At Fotheringhay on the evening of 7 February 1587, Mary was told that she was to be executed the next morning. She spent the last hours of her life in prayer, distributing her belongings to her household, and writing her will and a letter to the King of France. The scaffold that was erected in the Great Hall was two feet high and draped in black. It was reached by two or three steps and furnished with the block, a cushion for her to kneel on and three stools, for her and the earls of Shrewsbury and Kent, who were there to witness the execution. The executioners (one named Bull and his assistant) knelt before her and asked forgiveness. She replied, “I forgive you with all my heart, for now, I hope, you shall make an end of all my troubles." Her servants, Jane Kennedy and Elizabeth Curle, and the executioners helped Mary to remove her outer garments, revealing a velvet petticoat and a pair of sleeves in crimson-brown, the liturgical colour of martyrdom in the Catholic Church,with a black satin bodice and black trimmings.As she disrobed she smiled and said that she "never had such grooms before … nor ever put off her clothes before such a company”. She was blindfolded by Kennedy with a white veil embroidered in gold, knelt down on the cushion in front of the block, on which she positioned her head, and stretched out her arms. Her last words were, “In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum” (“Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit”).Mary was not beheaded with a single strike. The first blow missed her neck and struck the back of her head. The second blow severed the neck, except for a small bit of sinew, which the executioner cut through using the axe. Afterward, he held her head aloft and declared, “God save the Queen.” At that moment, the auburn tresses in his hand turned out to be a wig and the head fell to the ground, revealing that Mary had very short, grey hair. A small dog owned by the queen, a Skye terrier, is said to have been hiding among her skirts, unseen by the spectators. Following the beheading, it refused to be parted from its owner’s body and was covered in her blood, until it was forcibly taken away and washed. Items supposedly worn or carried by Mary at her execution are of doubtful provenance;contemporary accounts state that all her clothing, the block, and everything touched by her blood was burnt in the fireplace of the Great Hall to obstruct relic-hunters.

Daniel Mytens
James Hamilton, 1st Duke of Hamilton, 1606 - 1649. Royalist

James, Duke of Hamilton, was the close friend and principal Scottish advisor to Charles I. This picture shows him aged twenty-three dressed in a rich silver suit, embroidered with metal thread, and the softest leather boots, folded back into deep tops. Hamilton appreciated the work of Mytens, the leading court portraitist, and he had been painted by him six years earlier. Like his king, Hamilton was a keen collector of art. Following his king politically cost Hamilton his head. He was executed less than six weeks after the king, on the same scaffold at Whitehall.

Domenico Duprà
John Drummond, 4th titular Duke of Perth, 1714 - 1747. Jacobite

Drummond was a Jacobite army officer and the son of a Jacobite nobleman. Born in France, he raised the Royal Ecossais under his command in 1743-4. This regiment would be the backbone of France’s contribution to the Jacobite Rising of 1745. After the disastrous Battle of Culloden, Drummond returned to France. He inherited the Jacobite title of fourth duke of Perth after his brother’s death. His promising French army career was cut short when he died of a fever after the siege of Bergen op Zoom in 1747. This portrait is the main surviving image of the duke. It was painted in 1739, when Drummond was a member of the Society of Young Gentlemen Travellers in Rome.

Domenico Duprà
Captain William Hay of Edington, 1706 - 1760. Adherent of the Stuarts
Dated 1739

William Hay was a staunch Jacobite and lived for several years in Rome before entering the Austrian service. He was killed at the battle of Torgan in 1760. Whilst Hay was in Rome, Dupra painted this portrait as part of a small series depicting men closely associated with the exiled Jacobites. On the reverse of this canvas, and the others which relate, Duprà detailed the following information: ‘Done for Captain Hay at Rome 1739. A Scots Gentleman residing there having been involved in the misfortunes of the family of Stuart, and was a person esteemed by the British travelling there of whatever party.’