WTF Fun Fact 13357 – The Youngest Monarch

Did you know that the youngest monarch in history was Mary, Queen of Scots, who ascended to the throne when she was just 6 days old? Second place goes to Emperor Shang of the Han Dynasty in China. He ascended to the throne in 105 AD when he was just 100 days old.

History’s youngest monarch

Mary, Queen of Scots was born Mary Stuart on December 8, 1542, to King James V and the French Queen, Marie de Guise. The momentous occasion took place in Linlithgow Palace, Scotland.

Sadly, just six days after her birth, Mary’s father died. This left her the sole heir to the Scottish throne.

So, on December 14, 1542, baby Mary was proclaimed Queen of Scots. And while she clearly could not govern, this was the official beginning of her reign. Her mother served as Scotland’s regent from 1554 until her death in 1560.

Educating a queen

Mary was raised by her mother, who protected her and ensured she received the best possible education before taking on her royal duties. She was trained in languages, literature, music, and dance.

But, as was the custom, she was also betrothed to her husband very early in life. In 1548, at just five years old, Mary was betrothed to the French Dauphin, Francis. As a result, she was sent to France to live at the French court. While her mother visited, she spent her formative years with her future family.

In 1558, Mary and Francis were married. And a year later, upon the death of King Henry II, they became the king and queen consort of France.

During Mary’s time in France (1548-1561), she did have an argument for being made Queen of England as well as the great-granddaughter of Henry VII of England. Mary was a cousin to Queen Elizabeth I, who took the throne instead. But for a while, things looked like they might go the other way since some people in England wanted Mary as Queen since she was Catholic. Elizabeth I was Protestant and faced opposition for it.

Return of the Queen

In 1560, King Francis passed away, making Mary a widow at age 18. After that, she returned to Scotland. But her reign was not easy and she deal with both political and religious conflicts among her people and within the palace.

Being Catholic made Mary unpopular with the predominantly Protestant Scottish nobility. And her French upbringing alienated her from her subjects. There were poor marriage decisions and other political miscalculations that led to the end of her reign in 1567. At that point, Mary was forced to abdicate in favor of her infant son, James VI.

After that, she fled to England hoping to seek refuge under Queen Elizabeth I.

As you may know, that did not work out. Mary was imprisoned by Elizabeth for 19 years on suspicions of plotting to overthrow the English queen. In 1586, she was found guilty of treason, and on February 8, 1587, Mary was executed at age 44.

Certainly not an ending befitting a Queen, and the world’s youngest monarch.

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Source: “The life of Mary, Queen of Scots” — National Trust for Scotland

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