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Activity / challenge

The murder of David Rizzio

Mary, Queen of Scots Bedchamber

On the night of Saturday, 9 March 1566 Mary, Queen of Scots’ private secretary, David Rizzio, was murdered in the queen's private chambers at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Take a look inside these rooms and find out more about what happened that evening.

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Seven months earlier, Mary had married Lord Darnley in the Palace Chapel.  She was 22 and he was just 19.

It was not a happy marriage. Lord Darnley thought a lot of himself and was a violent and ambitious man who simply wanted to be king.  Although he had the title, he had no real power and wanted to be in charge.

He was also very jealous of Mary’s personal secretary, David Rizzio. Mary and Rizzio shared lots of interests, especially music and poetry.  Lord Darnley did not like that Mary trusted Rizzio and listened to his opinions. Before long, Darnley began to plot how to get rid of him.

The story of that night starts in a little turret room at the side of Mary’s Bedchamber.  This was known as the Supper Room, a private part of the Palace where Mary spent time relaxing with her closest friends.                              

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The men then moved next door into Mary’s Outer Chamber

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Some say the events that took place in these rooms were the beginning of the end for Mary. 

Less than a year after Rizzio's death, Lord Darnley was murdered in mysterious circumstances.  Many were shocked when Mary married one of the chief suspects - the Earl of Bothwell - just three months after.

There was soon rebellion in Scotland and Mary was forced to abdicate.  She fled to England hoping her cousin, Elizabeth I, would protect her.  However, Elizabeth was suspicious because Mary also had a claim to the English throne, so she had her imprisoned. 

Mary was executed 19 years later, aged 44.

 

ACTIVITY

There were a number of witnesses to Rizzio’s murder. 

We know what happened that night from the letters and diary entries they wrote afterwards, including a letter Mary wrote to her cousin Elizabeth I after she fled from Holyroodhouse.

Imagine you are a reporter working for The Royal Review newspaper.   

Using the information you have gathered, write your own report of Rizzio's murder. You could include quotes from witnesses to the crime, information about what the rooms looked like and even a drawing - there were no cameras in 1566!

Don't worry if you don't have a printer - you can type right onto the page. Just download The Royal Review template below.

The Royal Review

The Royal Review