Poetry Corner: Sonnet to Lord Bothwell

On the 14th of  April 1578,(?)  James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, ( aka the Duke of Orkney) third husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, died at Dragsholm Castle in Denmark. He had been a prisoner since 1567 and is thought to have gone mad. (or did he?)

James Hepburn 4th Earl of Bothwell

James Hepburn 4th Earl of Bothwell, Scottish National Gallery

Bothwell, born 13th of April 1534, was a top Scottish nobleman and closely linked with  the murder of Henry, Lord Darnley, Mary’s second husband.

After Mary lost the Scottish throne, Bothwell fled via Shetland to Norway. From there he was sent to Denmark and to Malmö Castle (1568–1573). He was still the consort of a foreign monarch under a sort of house arrest.

Once it became clear that Mary’s cause was doomed, Bothwell was transferred to Dragsholm Castle which was used as a prison for noble and ecclesiastical prisoners. He was held in what were said to be appalling conditions. (or was he?)

He died in April 1578

A pillar to which he was chained can still be seen, with a circular groove in the floor around the pillar. His (alleged) mummified body could be seen in Fårevejle, in the church near the castle. In later decades his extended family have tried to get his body sent back to Scotland, but their request has not been granted. James Hepburn

And then there is this:

Where In the World Is the Earl of Bothwell?

So take your pick because it is shrouded in the fake news and misinformation that the 16th Century was expert in. 

Sonnet to Lord Bothwell by Mary, Queen of Scots

Lord, grant your mercy unto me:
Teach me some way that he may know
My love for him is not an empty show
But purest tenderness and constancy.
For does he not, alas, ev’n now possess
This body and this heart which would not flee
Discord, dishonour, nor uncertainty,
Nor family hurt, nor evil’s worst distress.
For his sake, I value all my friends as dust
And in my enemies I seek to place my trust.
For him, my conscience and good name to chance I’ve cast:
I would renounce the world, were it his whim:
I’d gladly die if it should profit him.
What more is there to prove my love steadfast?


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