Chapter 3 : Honoured Guest
Soon after, preparations began for Marie’s departure, although, in the event, she remained another two months. According to the English envoy, this was because she and Henri II were wrangling about money matters. In the last month of her stay, she lost her son, the 15 year old Duke of Longueville who died at Amiens, with Marie at his bedside. Grief-stricken, she contemplated remaining in France, but duty called her back to Scotland. She still was not named as Regent, but was requested to return to assist with the ‘execution of justice’.
Delayed by the loss of her son, Marie did not embark for Scotland until October, although she had received a second safe-conduct from England in September. Marie set out in a flotilla of ten ships, under the leadership of Baron de la Garde. Her plan was to travel directly home but the ships were blown by storms onto the English coast, and Marie took refuge in Portsmouth. The Captain of Portsmouth, Sir Richard Wingfield, immediately went to meet her to ask whether she wished to re-embark for Scotland, or travel through England. No doubt having had enough of an autumn sea-journey, Marie elected to travel overland. The local nobles went to pay their respects, and orders were received from the King’s Council to the grandees of the counties between Portsmouth and London to give her appropriate hospitality.
It took Marie several days to reach London, staying at Sir Richard Wingfield’s house at Southwick for two days, then at Warblington (the castle confiscated from Margaret Plantagenet, Countess of Salisbury following the Exeter Conspiracy) with dinner at the house of the Earl of Arundel, followed by a stop at Cowdray Castle in Sussex, and then Guilford where she was met by Lord William Howard, who accompanied her to Hampton Court.
A mile or so from the Palace the Marquess of Northampton and his wife met her. She stayed at Hampton Court until the 2nd November, and spent the evening ‘in dancing and pastime’ then travelled into London by barge to stay at the Bishop of London’s Palace, Baynard’s Castle. The Lord Mayor sent presents of veal, mutton, swine, beer, wine coals, and even a sturgeon to make her stay more pleasant.
On the 5th November, the Duke of Suffolk (Henry Grey) and the Earl of Huntingdon (Francis Hastings, the great-great-nephew of Edward IV) waited upon her. On 6th November, the ladies of the Court, led by Marie’s half-sister-in-law, Lady Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox and the Duchesses of Northumberland and Suffolk and the Countess of Pembroke (Anne Parr) together with some hundred noble and gentlewomen accompanied her to court.
The sight of Lady Margaret might have been somewhat embarrassing as Lady Margaret’s husband, Matthew Stuart, Earl of Lennox had hoped to be named Regent of Scotland in place of Arran and had been a suitor to Marie when she was first widowed. Disappointed, he had changed allegiance to support the English faction against Marie’s preferred French alliance.
Despite having received invitations, the King’s sisters, the Ladies Mary and Elizabeth did not attend, although their reasons for absence are not recorded. The King met Marie in the entrance at Whitehall, and she was conducted to the Queen’s Side of the Palace where she dined in state on the left of the King, under the Cloth of State. The room was decorated with the King’s best plate – a sideboard with four shelves of gold utensils and one of six shelves of ‘massy silver’. Having recently met the young man her daughter was contracted to marry, the Dauphin Francois, Marie now had the opportunity to compare him with the alternative suitor – a boy of similar age.
According to the Protestant John Knox, who was one of Edward VI’s chaplains and treated him as a Protestant hero, Marie said that ‘she found more wisdom and solid judgement in the young King of England than she should have looked for in any three princes of full age then in Europe.’ After dinner, which finished at around 4pm, Marie returned to the Bishop’s Palace, where she rested for another day, before departing for the North. Before she left, Northumberland, Winchester and other lords paid her a final visit to present her with two horses (or nags, as they were referred to) and a ring with a diamond, presents from the King.
Messages were sent to all of the Sheriffs in the counties she would pass through to meet her and pay her the appropriate honours. She was accompanied on her journey by Edward Dudley, son of the Duke of Northumberland, and a Mr Shelley, to make sure she was ‘conveniently and honourably served’. Marie was back in Scotland before the end of November. She would not leave Scotland again.
This article is part of a Profile on Marie of Guise available for Kindle, for purchase from Amazon.