Autumn yielded to winter. Encouraged by Secretary Rizzio, Queen Mary grew more and more independent of her nobles, preferring to make her own decisions instead of complying with policies that favoured corrupt nobles.
Upset at their loss of power and wealth, many protestant nobles spread rumours about the queen saying that Rizzio was her lover. These rumours attacked Darnley’s vanity and gave him an excuse to become more violent, more abusive, and more hated by the queen.
As winter yielded to spring Darnley plotted with other enemies of the queen. Finally, in March the conspirators made their move.
“Sing for us, David!” laughed Queen Mary. Sitting at the head of her dining table in her private apartment, the queen drank deeply, her ladies in waiting and dearest friends Mary Seton, Mary Fleming, Mary Livingston, and Mary Beaton enjoying the dinner party along with David Riccio.
“What song would you hear from me tonight?” asked David as he rose from the table to retrieve his lute from across the room.
“A bit from Goddesses, if you please!” requested Mary Seton.
“Excellent choice!” smiled David as he played the chorus as an instrumental introduction before singing the first two verses. “A north-country lass up to London did pass, although with her nature it did not agree. Which made her repent and so often lament, still wishing again in the north for to be. Oh the oak the ash, and the bonny ivy tree doth flourish at home in my own country. Oh the oak the ash, and the bonny ivy tree doth flourish at home in my own country.
“Fain would I be in the north country where the lads and the lasses are making of hay. There should I see what is pleasant to me: a mischief light on them entic’d me away. Oh the oak the ash, and the bonny ivy tree doth flourish most bravely in our country! Oh the oak the ash, and the bonny ivy tree doth flourish most bravely in our country!”
“Bravo! Ben cantato. La tua voce è come gli angeli in cielo!” applauded Queen Mary in Italian as David put down his lute.
“Vostra Maestà è troppo gentile,” replied Riccio in Italian with a kiss to Queen Mary’s hand.
Just then ten Scottish nobles burst into the room with drawn swords, their leader Henry Stewart strutting behind them with a drawn pistol in his hand. Henry motioned to Mary Seton, Mary Fleming, Mary Livingston, and Mary Beaton, “Leave or die!”
“What will you do?” screamed with horror Mary Seton as the men shoved her out of the room.
“None of your concern,” snarled Henry as he grabbed his wife and pinned her against a wall, his pistol aimed and pointed at their unborn child. In full sight of the queen the nobles surrounded David Riccio with blades drawn.
Horrified Queen Mary was forced to watch as the nobles stabbed Riccio repeatedly, even after he was clearly dead. Crying, screaming, weeping, the queen’s body shook uncontrollably in horror, “WHY?!”
“You will give me the crown matrimonial and make me king of Scotland in my own right!”
“NEVER!” screamed the queen.
“You will! When the child inside you dies this night; I promise you: you will give me what I want!” shrieked Henry as he turned and left her alone.
Excerpted from "Mary Queen of the Scots: the Forgotten Reign (The Legendary Women of World History Book 3)" by Laurel A. Rockefeller. Copyright © 2015 by Laurel A. Rockefeller. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.