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Mary, Queen of Scots, Part 1 - Baby Queen
|edHelper's suggested reading level:||grades 6 to 7|
|Flesch-Kincaid grade level:||4.49|
Mary, Queen of Scots, Part 1 - Baby Queen
By Toni Lee Robinson
1 December 8, 1542, was most likely a chilly, drizzly day in western Scotland. On that day in a damp, drafty stone castle, a baby was born. This wasn't just any baby. The wee bairn's mother was a French princess. ("Wee bairn" [bear-n] is the way a Scottish person might say "tiny baby.") Her father was James V, King of Scotland. The new baby, Mary Stewart (or Stuart), would soon become a queen.
2 The reign of the Stewarts had begun through a woman of royal blood. She was Marjorie, the daughter of Robert the Bruce, the great warrior king of Scotland. Marjorie's son, Robert II, King of Scots, was called "the Steward." The title became a family name - Stewart.
3 Sadly, little Mary's father wasn't excited about his daughter's birth. The king saw trouble on every side. His army had just suffered a huge defeat at the hands of England. Besides that, his power base at home was looking shaky. The Scottish lords were a power-hungry, hot blooded lot. They could switch sides in the blink of an eye. At the moment, many showed signs of dropping the king like a hot potato.
4 "Woe is me," the king wailed when he heard of his new daughter. "My dynasty came with a lass. It will go with a lass." (A dynasty is a royal family in which power is passed down for generations. A lass, of course, is a girl.) The first two children of James V, both boys, had died. There were no male heirs to the throne. It seemed that the Stewart line would die out. When the girl child was born, the king lay ill in a castle miles away. A week after the birth, he died. He never saw his little girl.
5 Tiny Mary became Queen of Scotland at her father's death. It was a strange life for a baby. At the age of six months, she was promised as a bride. A treaty with England declared that she would be married to the son of the English king when she was ten years old. (Ten years old and married?? In that day, children were often treated as goods to be traded off for something adults wanted. In this case, the Scottish lords wanted favor with the powerful English throne.)
6 At nine months, most babies have nothing more pressing to do than teething, crawling, and cooing. When Mary was that age, she was officially crowned. The coronation ceremony was a solemn one. Important people from Scotland and other nations were there. Like most events involving babies, it was a bit unpredictable.
7 The tiny queen was dressed in elegant robes. They were just like those a queen would wear except they were baby-sized. Her dress was the finest satin, encrusted with jewels. Over it, she wore a heavy red velvet cape trimmed in ermine fur. Even in all those heavy clothes, the pint-sized queen had to be held down for fear she would roll off the throne!
8 The ceremony called for the queen to swear an oath to her country. Baby Mary couldn't even speak the simplest words. But the oath was read by a man who was head of the church in Scotland. The nobleman who held the baby queen on the throne answered for her. The queen was also to be anointed, or splashed with oil. This was to show she was chosen by God to rule. The baby girl didn't like being anointed. During that part of the process, the people present heard their queen crying loudly!
9 Next, the Earl of Lennox knelt before the baby and put the royal scepter in her tiny hand. This heavy staff of precious metal and jewels was a sign of her authority. To the baby, it probably seemed like a big, shiny toy. Then the sword of state was buckled onto the little queen's roly-poly frame. The sword was a symbol of the might of the kingdom, with which the queen would defend her people. Thankfully, the weapon's sharp blade was covered with a sheath. But it was probably about twice as tall as the queen herself!
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