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Marie of Guise
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Biographical Information
Real Name: Mary of Guise
Title: Queen of Scotland

Queen's Mother

Coronation: 22 February 1540
Predecessor: James V
Successor: Mary Stuart
Born: 22 November 1515
Death: 11 June 1560
Age: 44
Religion: Roman Catholic
House: House of Guise
Gender: Female Female.png
Originally From: Lorraine, France
Parents: Claude, Duke of Guise (Father)

Antoinette de Bourbon (Mother)

Husband: Louis II (3 years)

James V (6 years)

Family: Duke of Guise (Brother)

Claude de Guise (Brother)

Children: Francis, Duke of Longueville

Louis of Longueville
James, Duke of Rothesay
Robert, Duke of Albany
Mary Stuart

Affiliations: House of Stuart

Kingdom of France Kingdom of Scotland

COD: Edema/Oedema
Burial: Saint Pierre de Reims, France
TV Character Information
First appearance: Consummation
Portrays: Marie de Guise
Portrayed by: Amy Brenneman

Marie of Guise was the wife to King James V, and mother to the future Queen of Scotland, Mary, Queen of Scots. However, she ruled Scotland while her daughter was growing up.

Early life

Marie was born at Lorraine, France, the eldest daughter of Claude of Lorraine, head of the House of Guise, and his wife Antoinette de Bourbon. Among her 11 siblings was Duke of Guise. Marie was tall and her mother mentioned in a letter that she suffered from bad colds. However, there is a story of Marie of Guise being born in a commoners home while on route to her "supposed" birthplace. Her name has also been stylized as Mary of Guise, Marie de Guise, and Mary di Guise.

Marie joined her grandmother Philippa in a convent, while there she was visited by her aunt and uncle when she was 14. Impressed by their niece's qualities and stature, they took her away and prepared her for life at the French court. In 1531, Marie made her first appearance at the marriage for King Francis I and Eleanor of Austria. She established a friendship with the king's daughters Madeleine, whom she would later succeed as Queen of Scots.

Time in France

On 4 August 1534, at the age of 18, she became Duchess of Longueville by marrying Louis II d'Orléans. Their union turned out to be happy, but brief. 1 year later Marie gave birth to her first son, Francis. Sadly on 9 June 1537, her husband died and left her a widow at the age of 21. For the rest of her life, Marie kept the last letter from her bon mari et ami (her good husband and friend). It can still be seen at the National Library of Scotland. On 4 August, Marie gave birth to their second son, who was named Louis after his deceased father, but he died young.

Later that year, Marie became the focus of marriage negotiations with James V of Scotland, who had lost his first wife, Madeleine of Valois and wanted a second French bride to further the interests of the Franco-Scottish alliance against England. According to a 17th-century writer, James V had noticed the attractions of Marie when he went to France to meet his first wife, and she was next in his affections. It is known that Marie had attended the wedding of James and Madeleine.

Henry VIII of England, in attempts to prevent this union, asked for Marie's hand. Given Henry's history of banishing his first wife and having just beheaded Anne Boleyn, Marie declined. He even once said 'he was big in person and had need of a big wife.' to which Marie replied "I may be a big woman, but I have a very little neck." This was a tribute to the Henry's famously French-educated second wife, Anne Boleyn, who had joked before her death that the executioner would find killing her easy because she had "a little neck."


King Francis I had a marriage contract prepared that offered James a dowry as large as if Marie had been a princess. Marie received the news with shock and alarm, as she did not wish to leave family and country, especially as she had just lost her first husband and her younger son.

The actual wedding of James V and Marie was held by proxy at Notre Dame de Paris. Some 2,000 lords and barons sent by James V came from Scotland to attend the proxy wedding. Lord Maxwell, himself, stood as proxy for King James V. Three weeks later Marie landed in Scotland. She was formally received by the king a few days later amid pageants and plays performed in her honor.

Marie left France at the age of 22 years, she had been forced to leave her 3-year old son, Francis, behind. Since the death of his father, her son was the new Duke of Longueville. A few days after met James they were married at St Andrews. James's mother Margaret Tudor wrote to Henry VIII, "I trust she will prove a wise Princess. I have been much in her company, and she bears herself very honorable to me, with very good entertaining."

Marie was crowned queen at Holyrood Abbey in Edinburgh, Scotland. Preparations for her coronation began almost 6 months earlier. A salute of 30 guns was fired from David's Tower in Edinburgh Castle, and there were fireworks devised by James and made by his royal gunners.

The young couple had 2 sons. James, and Robert; however, both died before the age of 1. The third and last child of the union was a daughter Mary, who was born on 8 December 1542. King James died six days later, making the infant Mary queen regnant of Scotland.

Later in life

Henry VIII of England wished Mary, Queen of Scots to marry his son, Prince Edward. This led to internal conflicts in Scotland between those who preferred the alliance with France and led to an English invasion.

On July 1543 she moved with the infant Queen to Stirling Castle. When Ralph Sadler spoke to her again, Guise assured him the English marriage would go ahead when Mary was ten years old. In the meantime Mary was safe at Stirling, and Guise said she was glad to be at Stirling. It soon became clear to Henry VIII that Mary, Queen of Scots and Prince Edward would not be married, despite Scottish promises and the Treaty of Greenwich, and at the end of 1543 he launched a war, hoping to turn the situation around.

After a Scottish defeat in September 1547, French military aid weakened English resolve and increased the power base of Marie of Guise, who remained in Scotland. By the resolution of the Scottish Parliament the child Queen Mary was sent to France in August 1548 to be raised with her husband-to-be, Prince Francis Guise first planned to sail with her daughter as far as Whithorn, but returned instead for a council meeting in Edinburgh.

After negotiating on Christmas Day 1549 at Stirling Castle for more French guns, she showed more prudence 2 months later by watching the successful assault from across the Tay. The English troops abandoned their occupation in September 1549. Marie of Guise was triumphant, writing that "the English had left nothing behind but the plague." After the Treaty was signed, Marie was able to travel to France to see her family.

Time in France and England

Marie left Scotland on 6 September 1550 and arrived in time to participate in a festival with the French court with her daughter the next month. Marie and the Queen of Scots rode in procession behind soldiers carrying banners depicting Scottish fortresses recently defended and recovered by the French.

Over the winter she stayed with the French court at Blois, then spent the summer with King Henry II visiting Tours. In April, Marie was sickened by news of a plot to poison her daughter. A Scottish would-be poisoner, Robert Stewart, discovered in London was delivered to the French that spring. Throughout her time in France, Marie was anxious to gain the best settlement for her daughter's marriage to Francis and financial support for herself in Scotland.

While accompanying her, her son Francis died, and in October 1551 she met King Edward VI in England. At his meeting with Marie, Edward gave her a diamond ring. The ring, had belonged to Catherine Parr. Princess Mary Tudor declined to attend her visit, though Princess Elizabeth was present.

Regent of Scotland

Marie became regent on 12 April 1554, and the eleven-year-old Mary, Queen of Scots sent her congratulations. In many affairs, Marie consulted her brothers in France – the Cardinal of Lorraine, and Duke of Guise, both of whom held government positions in France – so that Scotland and France would work as allies in dealing with other nations.

Mary's regency was threatened, by the growing influence of the Scottish Protestants. To an extent, Marie of Guise had tolerated the growing number of Protestant preachers. She needed to win support for her pro-French policies, and they could expect no alternative support from England while Mary Tudor ruled. The marriage of Mary, Queen of Scots to Prince Francis on 24 April 1558 was quickly followed by Mary Tudor's death and the succession to the throne of England by Elizabeth on 17 November 1558. Mary Stuart's claim and rights of succession to the English throne depended in part on the Papal view of Elizabeth's legitimacy. If King Henry II of France was to pursue Mary's claim with the Pope, as part of an ambitious plan that Scotland and England would succumb to French domination, he needed Scotland to be a secure Catholic country. As the Scottish Reformation was developing, Henry II died on 10 July 1559, and Mary Stuart became Queen Consort of France. In France, Mary and King Francis began to publicly display the arms of England in their blazon. The accession of the Protestant Elizabeth in England stirred the hopes and fears of Scottish Protestants.


After an English assault, some of the leaders came to Edinburgh Castle on 12 May 1560 and had dinner with Marie. Days later, while continuing to fortify the Castle, Marie became seriously ill, and over the course of the next eight days her mind began to wander; some days she could not even speak. On 8 June she made her will. She died of dropsy on 11 June 1560. Her body was wrapped in lead and kept in Edinburgh castle for several months. 8 months later it was secretly carried from the castle at midnight and shipped to France. Mary, Queen of Scots attended her funeral 5 months later. Marie of Guise was interred at the church in the Convent of Saint-Pierre in Reims, where her sister Renée was abbess. A marble tomb was erected with a bronze statue of Marie, in royal robes, holding a sceptre and the rod of justice in one hand. The tomb was destroyed during the French revolution. Of Marie's five children, only her daughter Mary Stuart survived her.


  • From the House of Bourbon though her mother's side.
  • Unknowingly attended the first wedding of her second husband, King James V of Scotland in Paris.
  • King James V marriage to his second wife, Marie de Guise was done via proxy on 12 June 1538.
  • Was Queen of Scotland by marriage to her husband, King James V. When he died, the role went to her daughter, and she became Regent until her daughter was old enough to rule.
  • Visited France in 1550 as a part of a tour to gain support for her regency, and see her son from her first marriage, as well as Mary, Queen of Scots.
  • Mary Seton mother, was a French-born Lady-in-Waiting her.
  • Mary Beaton's mother was also one of her Ladies-in-Waiting.
  • Met King Edward VI of England and Princess Elizabeth at the end of 1551.
  • Did not attend her daughter's private or public wedding in Notre Dame to the future King Francis II.
  • Died on 11 June 1560 at 44 years old from Edema/Oedema.

Family Tree

Claude, Duke of Guise
Antoinette de Bourbon
Marie Guise
King James
Duke of Guise
Anna d'Este
Charles of Guise
Claude de Guise
Louise de Brézé
Louis of Guise
René of Guise
Queen Mary
King Francis
Charles of Lorraine
Charles, Duke of Aumale

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Pages: Historical Events | Historical References | Historical Timeline |
Kings: King Antoine of Navarre | King Edward of England | King Henry II of France | King Henry VIII of England |
King James V of Scotland | King Francis I of France | King Francis II of France | King Charles IX of France |
King Philip II of Spain |
Queens: Queen Catherine of France | Queen Mary of Scotland | Queen Anne of England | Queen Elizabeth of England | Queen Jane of England | Queen Mary of England | Queen Jeanne of Navarre | Queen Elisabeth of Spain |
Princes: Prince of the Blood, Louis Condé | Price Don Carlos of Spain | Price Henry of France | Prince Henry de Bourbon | Duke Francis of France |
Princesses: Princess Claude of France | Catherine of Aragon | Princess Catherine de Bourbon |
Lords: Robert Dudley | William Cecil | Henry Darnley | Matthew Lennox | Patrick Ruthven
Ladies: Amy Dudley | Mary Boleyn | Mary Fleming | Mary Livingston | Mary Beaton | Mary Seton | Margaret Lennox |
Nobles: Diane de Poitiers | James Stuart | Marie de Guise | Lucrezia de' Medici |
Others: Nostradamus | John Knox | Pope Clement VII |