- by theguardian
- 30 Nov 2022
She was executed as a Roman Catholic threat to the English throne, but during her long years of imprisonment by her Protestant cousin, Elizabeth I, Mary, Queen of Scots was still treated as a queen, previously unpublished documents reveal.
The British Library has acquired official financial accounts for the 1580s which detail the finest foods and other luxuries given to the Scottish queen during her captivity at Wingfield Manor in Derbyshire and Tutbury Castle in Staffordshire.
Clarke curated a recent British Library exhibition, Elizabeth and Mary: Royal Cousins, Rival Queens, which explored their turbulent relationship amid plots, espionage and treachery, with England and Scotland deeply divided between Protestants and Catholics and Europe torn apart by religious conflicts and civil wars.
Mary was just six days old when she became queen of Scotland in 1542 following the death of her father, James V. Feared as a Catholic with a claim to the English throne, she became a target for plotters and was eventually declared guilty of treason and beheaded in 1587, aged 44.
They show that Mary dined on beef, mutton, veal, boar and poultry, as well as cod, salmon, eels and herring spiced with saffron, ginger and nutmeg and downed with wine and ale. Oranges, olives, capers, almonds and figs were among her exotic treats. Sweet luxuries included marmalade, caraway biscuits and fruits preserved in syrup.
She was attended upon by a large household and dined under her canopy of state, where each of her courses offered a choice of up to 16 individual dishes.