Chapter Two: Plots and Problems

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Chapter Two: Plots and Problems

Mary Stuart was Elizabeth’s cousin and her most dangerous rival①. She was a Catholic and many Catholics wanted Mary to be the Queen of England. Mary was born in Scotland. She was the daughter of James V, King of Scotland and Mary Guise, a French noblewoman. Mary became Queen when she was only one week old. Since there were political problems in Scotland, Mary went to France at the age of five. She had a happy childhood in the
luxurious French court. She married the French Dauphin② Francis and became Queen of France for a short time. In 1560 her husband, the young King of France, died and she returned to Scotland. Scotland was a Protestant country but the Scots accepted her as their Queen. Mary was very beautiful, charming and fun-loving③. This worried Queen Elizabeth.

At this time something terrible happened: Elizabeth caught smallpox④,a disease that killed many people in those days. She was dangerously ill for many days. Elizabeth’s German doctor saved her life. Smallpox scars⑤ remained on Elizabeth’s face all her life. She always wore white powder and cosmetics to hide the scars. Parliament wanted Elizabeth to marry as soon as possible. It was important to have an heir to the Tudor throne. Several foreign monarchs wanted to marry Elizabeth: The Archduke of Austria, Ivan “the Terrible” Tsar of Russia, the King of France and the King of Spain.

① rival: 竞争对手。
② Dauphin: 1350-1830年期间的法国王太子。
③ fun-loving: 爱玩乐的。
④ smallpox: 天花病。
⑤ scars: 疤痕。

Many noblemen of her court wanted to marry her too. Sir Christopher Hatton loved her so much that he never married. However, Elizabeth spent most of her time with Robert Dudley, her favorite companion. Elizabeth was not interested in marriage. She feared that a foreign king was dangerous for England. And she did not want to divide her power with anyone.

In 1566, Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester, said, “I really believe the Queen will never marry.” He was right. However, Parliament insisted. One day Elizabeth became angry and said, “I am already bound unto① a husband, which is the kingdom of England!”

Elizabeth was afraid of a bad marriage. She had the example of her mother and of her cousin, Mary Stuart. After returning to Scotland, Mary married her cousin Lord Darnley in 1565. Soon after the marriage she hated him. Early in 1567 Darnley was killed. Many people suspected Mary and her lover, the Earl of Bothwell. When she married the Earl of Bothwell, the Scots were furious and she escaped to England.

Mary was now a real danger for the Queen – she was on English soil②. Catholic nobles began plotting against Elizabeth in favor of Mary. Elizabeth decided to imprison Mary in a remote③ castle. She remained there for 19 years. Other plots against Elizabeth were discovered, but she didn’t want to execute④ her cousin. In 1586 Mary was finally accused of treason and in 1587 she was beheaded.

① bound unto: (古语)嫁给。
② soil: 领土。
③ remote: 遥远的。
④ execute: 处决。

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