The Treaty of Greenwich

Even Peaches Geldof couldn’t come up with a worse idea for a husband. But, to give Mary Queen of Scots her dues, even though she was already on the throne, it wasn’t actually her idea to marry an older man, since she was only six months old at the time.

The older man in question was six year old Edward VI-to-be, whose short later life was Protestant to the point of bloody fray. Mary was, of course, Catholic. But the Scots were in an awkward position, having just been beaten at Solway Moss. So Henry VIII, with his usual gentleness and diplomacy, demanded to join Mary’s tiny hand in marriage with his son’s slightly larger hand.

It was all wrapped up with another ‘proposal’ to unite England and Scotland, and the thing that amazes me is that Henry actually seems to have thought it might work.

The Treaty of Greenwich was a pretty rubbish deal for the Scots (though they would have been allowed to keep their own laws – or at least the ones that didn’t get in Henry’s way) and it was an especially rough deal for the kiddies concerned.

Mary’s mother sneaked the young queen into hiding (thus beginning a lifetime’s habit) from which she only came out briefly to be officially crowned in a perfunctory ceremony, with most of the courtiers looking over their shoulders and Henry’s-best-hope the Earl of Arran and his friends noticeably absent.

Henry, as was customary when he didn’t get his own way, threw a hissy fit. He started insisting that Mary was handed over to his ‘care’ It’s hardly surprising that although he managed to get the Earl of Arran to sign the Treaty of Greenwich on July 1, 1543, it was chucked out by the Scottish Parliament in December.

At this point it all went completely pear-shaped. Henry stamped his foot. Very hard. And began what was later known as ‘The Rough Wooing,’ which is pretty much what it sounds like – a series of raids and violent assaults on the Scots to try to force them to hand Mary over for marriage. The ‘wooing’ went on for seven years, cost half a million quid and hundreds of lives.

It didn’t work out exactly as Henry had hoped. His arch enemy (one of so many, of course) Francis II of France offered to take Mary in and marry her to his son, an offer the Scots fell upon, given the alternative.

So – in a way, stuff that happened at Greenwich was responsible for Mary Queen of Scots spending thirteen years in France and/or hiding, before marrying someone else entirely, who would make a fist at the English throne after the death of another Mary (the bloody one…) and all end in tears.

Isn’t it great to be part of the rich tapestry of history…


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