The happy first months of marriage flew by for the teenage queen. Before long, though, things began to change. Mary's life was touched by great power and great tragedy. First, her cousin, Queen Mary I of England, died. The young Scottish queen was second in line to England's throne. In fact, many thought her the true Queen of England. Her cousin Elizabeth had first claim. However, Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII. Her mother, Anne Boleyn, had married the king after his divorce from his first wife. Many saw the second union as tainted. In their eyes, Elizabeth would not qualify to be queen.
Little over a year later, the King of France died. Mary mourned the man who had so lovingly raised her. Mary's husband became king. At 17, she became Queen Consort of France. The young queen could now claim the crowns of five nations: Scotland, France, England, and the English holdings of Wales and Ireland.
A few months after that, word came from Scotland that Mary's mother, Marie, had died. Marie had been regent of Scotland, ruling in Mary's place. The queen's mother had hoped to hand over a thriving kingdom when the time came for Mary to return. At the time of Marie's death, however, Scotland was still a cauldron of rivalry and conflict.
Then came the worst blow of all. François had developed an ear infection. It spread into his brain. Three days before Mary turned 18, her beloved husband died. The queen's heart was broken. She poured out her grief in a poem. One verse reads:
By day, by night, I think of him, in wood or mead, or where I be.
My heart keeps watch for one who's gone, and yet I feel he's aye with me.
The French court now felt cold and lonely. Mary still had many friends, but she was no longer Queen Consort. The late king's mother, Catherine de Medici, quickly moved into the regent's spot. She ruled in the place of her younger son, Charles. Catherine had never really accepted Mary. With her mother-in-law in control, the young widow was isolated and ignored.
It seemed best for Mary to return to her own kingdom. By the time she was 20, she was back in Scotland. She came home to a country torn by strife. One of the biggest battles was over church loyalties. Mary was deeply faithful to the Catholic Church. Many of her people were Protestants. It was the same with the powerful kingdom next door - England.