Here, gathered in our beloved South Dakota, are a few members of our Williamson / Mattson Clan. Charles and Luella are to be blamed (be kind, they didn't know what they were doing). We're generally a happy bunch and somewhat intelligent (notwithstanding our tenous grasp on reality). I'm also proud to say that most of us still have our teeth.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Overlooking the Pleasant Grove
Dispatch to the Clan,
A Mystery Solved,
Every since I was a child I remember Grandma Mattson telling me that we were related to Mary, Queen of Scots. She couldn’t say how, she just knew we were. Today, that mystery is solved. This old family memory, passed from generation to generation is true and today I will explain how.
Our story begins with our 14th Great Grandfather King James IV of Scotland. He fathered our 13th Great Grandmother, the Lady Margaret through his mistress Margaret Drummond. After Margaret died, James IV married the English Princess Maragret Tudor, the sister of the famous Henry VIII. They had a child named James, who later became King James V of Scotland. Therefore Kings James V of Scotland was our 1/2 14th Great Uncle so to speak. From this point on I’ll not use the term 1/2 now that you understand the relationship.
Mary, Queen of Scots was the daughter of our Great Uncle, James V of Scotland. Therefore, Mary was our 1st cousin 14 times removed. She became Queen of Scotland at the age of six days. She was crowned nine months later.
In 1558 she married Francis, the crown prince of France. She was not Queen of France for long. She was widowed in December 1560. Four years later she married her first cousin Henry Stuart. He was murdered by an explosion in 1567. After that she married James Hepburn, who is believed to be the murderer of her 2nd husband Henry Stuart.
Mary was forced to abdicate the throne of Scotland in after an uprising. Her one year old son James VI became King of Scotland. After an unsuccessful attempt to regain the throne Mary fled to England to seek protection from her first cousin, Queen Elizabeth I (a distant cousin of ours) whose kingdom she hoped to inherit because, as we all know, Queen Elizabeth (daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, Henry’s second wife who was later beheaded by Henry) never married and had no children.
Mry was arrested because of three plots to assassinate Elizabeth. Mary wanted to seize the throne of England and reestablish Catholicism as the religion of the land (remember, Henry VIII created the Church of England and turned England into a Protestant nation). Mary was tried and executed by beheading.
Her execution was a gruesome business. She spent the last hours of her life in prayer and also writing letters and her will. She expressed a request that her servants should be released. She also requested that she should be buried in France. The scaffold that was erected in the great hall was three feet tall and draped in black. It was reached by five steps and the only things on it were a disrobing stool, the block, a cushion for her to kneel on, and a bloody butcher's axe that had been previously used on animals. At her execution the executioners (one of whom was named Bull) knelt before her and asked forgiveness. According to a contemporary account, she replied "I forgive you with all my heart.” The executioners and her two servants helped remove a black outer gown, two petticoats, and her corset to reveal a deep red chemise—the liturgical color of martyrdom in the Catholic Church. As she disrobed she smiled faintly to the executioner and said, "Never have I had such assistants to disrobe me, and never have I put off my clothes before such a company." She was then blindfolded and knelt down on the cushion in front of the block. She positioned her head on the block and stretched her arms out behind her.
In Lady Antonia Fraser's biography, Mary Queen of Scots, the author writes that it took two strikes to decapitate Mary: The first blow missed her neck and struck the back of her head, at which point the Queen's lips moved. (Her servants reported they thought she had whispered the words "Sweet Jesus.") The second blow severed the neck, except for a small bit of sinew that the executioner severed by using the axe as a saw. Robert Wynkfield recorded a detailed account of the moments leading up to Mary's execution, also describing that it took two strikes to behead the Queen. Afterward, the executioner held her head aloft and declared, "God save the Queen." At that moment, the auburn tresses in his hand came apart and the head fell to the ground, revealing that Mary had had very short, grey hair.
It has been suggested that it took three strikes to decapitate Mary instead of two, a ritual devised to protract the suffering of the victim.