Visitors to Stirling Castle will be able to hear the untold story of one of Scotland’s most influential women in an exhibition which has just opened at Stirling Castle.
Most people will have heard of Mary Queen of Scots, but fewer know about The Other Mary, her mother. Born five hundred years ago in a French chateau, Mary of Guise grew up to rule the kingdom of Scotland.
Mary of Guise spent about half of her life in Scotland. Widowed in 1542 after a short marriage to King James V, she stayed here to defend the interests of her daughter, Mary Queen of Scots. As queen dowager – and eventually regent – Mary showed herself to be a shrewd politician and a capable leader. She bridged religious divides, thwarted Henry VIII’s attempts to dominate Scotland, oversaw sieges and worked tirelessly for the future of the Stewart dynasty.
Developed with the help of historian John Harrison, The Other Mary exhibition will run until 30th of November, and marks the start of a series of events to commemorate the anniversary of this remarkable woman’s birth.
Lorna Ewan, Head of Visitor Experience, Content and Learning for Historic Scotland, said: “Mary of Guise is a fascinating figure from Scotland’s history – a powerful woman in a man’s world, a Frenchwoman ruling Scotland, and a Catholic in an increasingly Protestant kingdom. This new exhibition is a great introduction to her life and times both at Stirling Castle and outside its walls, and is just one of many exciting events Historic Scotland will be running this year to commemorate the 500th anniversary of her birth.”
The Other Mary opens on the weekend of The Queen’s Feast, a two day event which will give visitors to the castle the opportunity to step back in time to the court of Mary of Guise and experience life at a royal banquet with its rituals and merriment.
Meanwhile later in the summer, Stirling Castle will celebrate all things French in celebration of Mary with its French Connection weekend on the 18th and 19th July, which will include a special exhibition of artwork by Iona Leishman charting Mary’s life and times. Whilst in November Mary’s 500th birthday will be marked in style with special tours at the castle.
During the summer there will also be an opportunity to follow Mary’s story at other Historic Scotland sites with a costumed performer telling tales of Mary’s visits to Castle Campbell (June 21st), Huntly Castle (June 28th), Linlithgow Palace (July 12th, 19th and 26th), St Andrews Castle (August 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th). Meanwhile at Edinburgh Castle you can meet Mary of Guise and her famous daughter, Mary Queen of Scots, in Queens of the Castle (May 25th, June 8th and 11th).
Lorna continued; “Whilst Mary’s story is very much entwined with Stirling and in particular the spectacular palace which her husband, James V commissioned following their marriage, she also spent time at many other properties across Scotland, as she travelled with her young daughter, Mary, Queen of Scots. Throughout the summer, visitors to a number of these properties will be able to find out more about the ‘Other Mary’ and the fascinating role she played in Scotland’s past.”