Why Did Elizabeth Execute Mary Queen of Scots in 1587?

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Submitted By holpritch
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Why did Elizabeth execute Mary in 1587?

Throughout Elizabeth's reign, she faced many problems from both extreme Catholics and Protestants. For example, many Catholics believed that Elizabeth was an illegitimate heir to the throne, therefore she should be killed and replaced with her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, who was the “rightful heir to the throne”. Mary was a threat to Elizabeth and the throne, simply by being in England, therefore Elizabeth needed to make a decision on how to deal with this threat.

In order to assess why Elizabeth executed Mary in 1587, it is important to look at her other options in dealing with Mary, such as allowing her to go back to France or to help her regain her throne in Scotland, which Mary was forced to give up when she was imprisoned in Lochleven Castle for the murder of her second husband, and the consequences of these options, both short-term and long-term.

In May 1568, after Mary had escaped from imprisonment and fled to England in the hope that Elizabeth would help her, a decision needed to be made about what to do with Mary, as she was a threat to the throne – she represented Catholics all over England. If Elizabeth executed Mary at this point, although she knew she would be removing the threat to the throne, she also knew that she could be accused of murdering a legitimate Queen, and the French may become more hostile towards England, resulting in wars. Therefore, at this point, Elizabeth knew she was unable to execute Mary, and so needed to look into other options.

One of her possible options was to allow Mary to go back to France, where she had been Queen for 2 years, before returning to Scotland. Elizabeth knew that this would remove threats to the throne, and would reduce France's hostility towards England. However, she also knew that she would be sending Mary to a Catholic country, running the risk of a French…...

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