Handwritten letter

At 2am on Wednesday 8 February 1587, Mary Queen of Scots picked up her pen for the last time. Her execution on the block at Fotheringhay Castle was a mere six hours away when she wrote this letter. It is addressed to Henri III of France, brother of her first husband.

As well as the English translation, Mary's last written words are available here in a French transcription. You can also read the historical background to this letter.

The letter (Library reference: Adv.MS.54.1.1) is part of the National Library of Scotland's manuscript collections. More details are in the catalogue record for Mary's letter.

Shown here is an image of Mary shortly after her marriage in 1558. With her is her husband, Francois. As eldest son of the French King, he took the title of Dauphin (or 'Dolphin') of France. He became king in 1559.

The image is taken from the Forman Armorial, a 16th-century manuscript which contains Scottish coats of arms. (Library reference: Adv.MS.31.4.2)