Last Updated 19 Dec 2022

Facts About Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth

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Mary Queen of Scots, documents the historical events of the sixteenth century during her reign along with her relationship with Queen Elizabeth I. More specifically, the movie centers around the struggle for power between the two and their neighboring countries. The beginning of the movie switches back and forth between Scotland and England’s court life. Mary Queen of Scots offers a more daring and temperamental personality while Elizabeth prefers to keep to herself. The audience quickly learns that both queens are under the control of their nobles, acting as a figurehead rather than a commanding monarch. Elizabeth fears Mary will overtake her country. She sends her suitor, Robert Dudley to marry Mary, in which she refuses. Elizabeth later falls ill with pox, giving Mary a chance to rule England as well.

Later, Mary catches the attention of Lord Darnley, quickly marries him, and gets pregnant. Her mind quickly changes about him when she finds out he is part of the conspiracy that killed her friend, David Rizzio. By then, the baby was born and Darnley is sent away and later killed. Another problem with Mary’s rule is that she isn’t liked by all in Scotland. Besides the nobles with their own agendas, a preacher, John Knox, led a rant to discredit Mary and her inability to rule. She is raped by the earl of Bothwell, James Hepburn and marries him unhappily. At this point, she is weakened and her crown lays in danger of being overtaken. Towards the end of the story, the two queens arrange to meet. During their conversation, the audience is further exposed to both Elizabeth and Mary’s personalities. The reason for the meeting is to ask Elizabeth for her assistance in the wars. Artfully dodging Mary, Elizabeth refuses her tearfully. She explains that she has given up her sense of self for England and that she can’t assist Mary because of her ultimate power. Though she can’t help her, Elizabeth explains that she will provide Mary with safety. This is later shown as imprisonment after Mary is revealed to be part of a conspiracy to overthrow Elizabeth. The last scene shows the beheading of Mary Queen of Scots. Before her death, she delivers a monologue to her son, hoping for his success in rule with an additional prayer.

Relationship to History:

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The characters were based on Mary Queen of Scots, her spouses, Elizabeth I, and other members of their court. Without going into depth, it seems that the main characters’ personalities align with history. Mary is shown as more free spirited than Elizabeth, a restrictive woman. There was a battle scene, I believe it was the battle of Langside that was shown with accuracy. Mary was defeated and fled to England for protection under Elizabeth. This ties in with our class course on religious wars of England during the sixteenth century where the question of Protestant versus Catholic was in play during politics.


Both Robbie and Ronan’s performances in the film were exceptional, drawing out emotion and intensity easily. The costumes and wigs were fantastic, seeing as they were detailed and exquisite

Though this film’s actors, costumes, and hair were wonderful, they could not help the movie from falling flat. Unless one had a serious understanding of history, the plot was difficult to follow. New characters were not well introduced and events happened with little to no explanation. The scenes were piecey and offered no clear explanation to who, what, when, and why a scene was occuring. In short, the movie had no plot. It was just a chain of events that really had no relation to each other. There was no endgame to this film. On top of all of this, the picture was an overall dry and monotonous production, unable to draw the audience in through both their underdeveloped and overdeveloped plotlines. Most of the scenes were boring and moved too slow to grab the audience’s attention. This production could have been greatly improved if it was easier to follow and if the plot was better developed instead of appearing rushed and haphazard. I wouldn’t recommend this movie to another students for these various reasons.

Historical Accuracy:

This movie offers some accurate details. For example, the costumes are spot on for the time period. Tight fitting dresses, puffy skirts, and extravagant hairstyles are greatly incorporated. The time frame and religious conflict is accurate too, although the movie doesn’t focus entirely around it. The other storyline, Mary trying to take over the English throne is true and a good basis for the film. Aside from this, there are a few details in which they are wrong. The biggest one is the highly dramatized meeting between Elizabeth and Mary. Historians have dragged the film for incorporating this scene. The two were rivals from the start and had no intention of making amends. Seeing as it was the climax of the movie, it received lots of backlash.


Judging from the way that this film produced, it seems that the director’s purpose for it was to show a different point of view. Throughout history, Elizabeth is portrayed as superior because in the end (spoiler!) Mary is executed under her hand. However, Mary Queen of Scots, well, focuses on Mary. The audience gets an insider view on her character development and story. This is different because often, history gets told from the winning side. The movie explains that their story is not black and white, but gray.

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