Mary Queen of Scots
and the murder of Lord Darnley
The Murder of Lord Darnley at Kirk o' Fields, 1567
In February, Mary's husband, Lord Darnley, had been lodging at a house, Kirk o'Field, in the Old Town of Edinburgh, about half a mile from Mary at Holyrood Palace.
At 2 o'clock in the morning the night air was torn by an enormous gunpowder explosion, and Kirk o'Field was reduced to rubble. Darnley must have suspected something as he lay that night in his bedroom, for in the alarm that was raised after the explosion his body was found in the garden.
Had he heard suspicious sounds under his room where large amounts of gunpowder had been secretly hidden? Perhaps he had heard the sound of the torch lighting the fuse. A chair and a length of rope were also found in the garden; Darnley and his groom had used the rope to climb out of the first floor window. They both lay dead, clad only in nightgowns, one dagger between them. Were they killed by the explosion while trying to escape? Or were they intercepted and strangled in the garden?
No hard evidence about precisely what occurred has ever been found.
The illustration above is from a contemporary drawing. At the top left is the infant James VI who sits up in his crib praying: "Judge and avenge my cause, O Lord". To the right Darnley and his groom lie dead in the garden.
Below, the townspeople of Edinburgh gather round and four soldiers carry a body away for burial