19. Mary Queen of Scots Blew Up Her Husband
Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley (1545 – 1567) was the second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots (1542 – 1587), and king consort of Scotland from 1565 until his death two years later. Darnley had accomplished little of note in his brief life before his violent death at age 22. His single legacy was to impregnate his wife with the future King James VI of Scotland and James I of England, thus giving rise to the Stuart Dynasty. Mary had inherited the throne while an infant, and was raised in France while Scotland was ruled by regents. In 1558, she married the French Crown Prince, who became King Francis II in 1559, only to die within a year. Mary returned to Scotland, where she met her first cousin, Lord Darnley, a handsome and well proportioned young man who swept her off her feet. A marriage was swiftly arranged, and Darnley became king consort.
Soon after the wedding, however, Mary discovered that Darnley had an excessive sense of entitlement. He grew enraged when she refused to grant him the Crown Matrimonial, which would have allowed him to continue ruling after her death. When his wife got pregnant, instead of being pleased, he fretted that any heir would push him that much further from the throne. In March of 1566, Darnley and some sidekicks burst into the queen’s dining room. There, in the presence of his horrified and heavily pregnant wife, Darnley proceeded to stab to death her private secretary, whom he accused of cuckolding him. As payback, Mary connived in an assassination plot that set off explosives beneath Darnley’s bedroom on February 19th, 1567. He survived the blast, but upon staggering out of the wreckage, he was seized and strangled to death. Mary married his murderer, the Earl of Bothwell, three months later.