Mary, Mary

From Calais to Leith is a five day journey, by sailboat, I am given to understand. I think of Mary Stewart — Mary, Queen of Scots — who made this passage at the age of eighteen. She was assisted by sailor-courtiers, however, and did not have to handle the sheets and anchor by herself.

The voyage was comparatively shorter, and thus technically less impressive, than that of Laura Dekker, who, some centuries later, circumnavigated the globe, solo, at the age of sixteen. But Miss Dekker, as she then was, had not been Queen of France, as the “Miss Stewart” had been, at that tender age. And the Stewart girl was already a widow, through no fault of her own. I would give her extra marks for seamanship, given this handicap.

Scottish-born Mary was already Queen of that northern realm. This was because her brothers and father (James V) had all, as we say, suddenly “passed on” — perished — leaving the then six-day-old Princess Mary as their sole heir. The Scotch Reformation was coming, and while Protestants have associated our Mary with distasteful schemes, I don’t think even John Knox accused her of plotting murders in her cradle. Still, he was among the many things that made Scotland inhospitable for Mary’s return. (I’m sure the reader will find this matter mentioned in the Wicked Paedia.)

I was instead idly reading Mary Stewart’s beautiful farewell to France, written on shipboard in August, 1561. (Some Puritans doubt her authorship, of course; but the young lady was quite cultivated.) She wrote:

Adieu, France! adieu, mes beaux jours!
La nef qui disjoint nos amours
N’a cy de moi que la moitié;
Une part te reste, elle est tienne.
Je la fie à ton amitié
Pour que de l’autre il te souvienne …

Dreaming of counterfactuals, as I often do. Mary Tudor was the last legitimate Tudor monarch of England. She was called “The Bloody” by heretical historians (because she sent a few hundred heretics to the flames). Alas, she died childless. This was a pity, for she was an excellent queen, who should have been installed earlier, instead of her silly half-brother, the Prottie “Edward VI.”

Then, she should have been followed by Mary Stewart, rather than by the unqualified Elizabeth, daughter of one of the not-yet-beheaded floozies of King Henry VIII. For the House of Stewart and the House of Tudor were already linked; it shouldn’t have been a problem, as it wasn’t for James VI and I, Mary Stewart’s son.

England, the gentle reader will recall, was Catholic, before the sex-addicted Henry Tudor messed up. It should have remained sublimely Catholic.