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Autograph letter signed - STUART Mary (Mary, Queen of Scots) - 1581. 
1581 - STUART, Mary (Mary, Queen of Scots). Autograph letter signed, to Henry III, King of France. [Sheffield Castle, England, December 2, 1581]. One page, measuring 8 by 12 inches. Handsomely floated and framed with portrait, entire piece measures 24-1/2 by 21 inches. $44,000.Exceptionally rare autograph letter signed by Mary Queen of Scots, written while she was held at Sheffield Castle, almost certainly addressed to her brother-in-law, King Henri III of France.Mary Stuart was the daughter of James V, King of Scotland, who died when she was six days old, thus making her Queen of Scotland. As the great-granddaughter of Henry VII of England, she was also an heir to the English throne after Henry VIII's children. Following the breaking off of her engagement to Henry VIII's son, which would have united the two thrones, Mary was sent to France in 1558, where she married the Dauphin, who became King Francis II a year later. Following his death in 1560, she returned to what was now Protestant Scotland, but her Catholicism was tolerated. Her marriage to her murderously ambitious second cousin, Henry Stuart (Lord Darnley) in 1565 lasted only two years, as he himself was the victim of murder. Mary's controversial marriage to the acquitted chief murder suspect, James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, only served to unite the fractious nobles who were victorious at Carberry Hill without any battle having been fought. Following her abdication in favor of her son and her escape, she again raised an army, which also was defeated, finally seeking refuge with Queen Elizabeth, who had Mary imprisoned for the rest of her life. Always seen as a threat to Elizabeth's throne, especially with her claim through her late Stuart husband, Lord Darnley, who had been next in line for succession to the throne after Elizabeth I, Mary was eventually executed in 1587. The son she had with Darnley, James VI, of Scotland, eventually became King James I of England. This letter, written in French to her brother-in-law, Henri III, King of France, reads (in translation): "Monsieur, I write only this word to thank you for the good wishes sent me by my ambassador, and I shall write tomorrow at greater length, and, holding you in great devotion, most humbly kiss your hands, praying to God that he may keep you, Monsieur, in the best health through a long life. From Sheffield, the 2nd December Your most affectionate Marie."Mary's reference in her letter to a more lengthy reply on the following day points to Henri III as the recipient, as he did indeed receive a lengthy letter from Mary on December 3rd. In that letter, Mary asked Henri III to remember her rights and titles in France, which had been confirmed by her predecessor, Charles IX. At the time of writing this letter, with Catholic priests being executed on suspicion of plotting against Elizabeth, one can easily imagine the imprisoned queen foreseeing a similar end. (Indeed, Mary's last letter was sent to Henri III, written just six hours before her beheading.) In addition, the language and content of the letter very strongly suggest Henri III as the recipient. The simple address of "Monsieur," without any allusion to title or position, and the plain signature "Marie" (rather than "Marie R") indicate a social equal. The highly personal and affectionate end greeting and use of the phrase mentioning the kissing of hands (perhaps the only other recipient that would receive such language would have been Elizabeth""negated by "Monsieur""or a bishop) would not have been used toward someone of a lower rank. Correspondence between Mary and Henry III was sent through ambassadors, and it was also prudent not to mention titles for fear that letters might be intercepted by the English. Letter with original folds, light soiling; ink dark, signature bold and clear. Letters of Mary Queen of Scots, regardless of who the correspondent might be, are among the most cherished by collectors of royalty ranking with Henry VIII and Queen Eliza. [Attributes: Signed Copy]
[Bookseller: Bauman Rare Books]
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