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История Casket letters
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Imprisonment in England

On 2 May 1568, Mary escaped from Loch Leven with the aid of George Douglas, brother of Sir William Douglas, the castle's owner. She managed to raise an army of 6000 men, and met Moray's smaller forces at the Battle of Langside on 13 May. She was defeated and fled south; after spending the night at Dundrennan Abbey, she crossed the Solway Firth into England by fishing boat on 16 May. She landed at Workington in Cumberland in the north of England and stayed overnight at Workington Hall. On 18 May, she was taken into protective custody at Carlisle Castle by local officials.

Mary apparently expected Elizabeth to help her regain her throne. Elizabeth was cautious, and ordered an inquiry into the conduct of the confederate lords and the question of whether Mary was guilty of the murder of Darnley. Mary was moved by the English authorities to Bolton Castle in mid-July 1568, because it was further from the Scottish border but not too close to London. A commission of inquiry, or conference as it was known, was held in York and later Westminster between October 1568 and January 1569.In Scotland, her supporters fought a civil war against Regent Moray and his successors.

Mary refused to acknowledge the power of any court to try her, since she was an anointed queen, and refused to attend the inquiry at York personally (she sent representatives) but Elizabeth forbade her attendance anyway. As evidence against Mary, Moray presented the so-called casket letters—eight unsigned letters purportedly from Mary to Bothwell, two marriage contracts and a love sonnet or sonnets said to have been found in a silver-gilt casket just less than one foot (30 cm) long, decorated with the monogram of King Francis II. Mary denied writing them, argued that her handwriting was not difficult to imitate, and insisted they were forgeries.They are widely believed to be crucial as to whether Mary shares the guilt for Darnley's murder. The chair of the commission of inquiry, the Duke of Norfolk, described them as horrible letters and diverse fond ballads, and sent copies to Elizabeth, saying that if they were genuine they might prove Mary's guilt.

The authenticity of the casket letters has been the source of much controversy among historians. It is impossible now to prove either way. The originals, written in French, were probably destroyed in 1584 by Mary's son. The surviving copies, in French or translated into English, do not form a complete set. There are incomplete printed transcriptions in English, Scots, French and Latin from the 1570s.Other documents scrutinised included Bothwell's divorce from Jean Gordon. Moray had sent a messenger in September to Dunbar to get a copy of the proceedings from the town's registers.

Biographers of Mary, such as Antonia Fraser, Alison Weir and John Guy, have come to the conclusion that the documents were either complete forgeries, or that incriminating passages were inserted into genuine letters, or that the letters were written to Bothwell by some other person or by Mary to some other person. Guy points out that the letters are disjointed, and that the French language and grammar of the sonnets is too poor for a woman with Mary's education. However, certain phrases of the letters (including verses in the style of Ronsard) and certain characteristics of style would be compatible with known writings of Mary. The casket letters did not appear publicly until the Conference of 1568, although the Scottish privy council had seen them by December 1567. Mary had been forced to abdicate and held captive for the best part of a year in Scotland. The letters were never made public to support her imprisonment and forced abdication. Historian Jenny Wormald believes this reluctance on the part of the Scots to produce the letters, and their destruction in 1584, whatever their content, is proof that they contained real evidence against Mary, whereas Weir thinks it shows the lords required time to fabricate them. At least some of Mary's contemporaries who saw the letters had no doubt that they were genuine. Among them was the Duke of Norfolk, who secretly conspired to marry Mary in the course of the commission, although he denied it when Elizabeth alluded to his marriage plans, saying "he meant never to marry with a person, where he could not be sure of his pillow".

The majority of the commissioners accepted the casket letters as genuine after a study of their contents and comparison of the penmanship with examples of Mary's handwriting. Elizabeth, as she had wished, concluded the inquiry with a verdict that nothing was proven, either against the confederate lords or Mary. For overriding political reasons, Elizabeth wished to neither convict nor acquit Mary of murder, and there was never any intention to proceed judicially; the conference was intended as a political exercise. In the end, Moray returned to Scotland as its regent and Mary remained in custody in England. Elizabeth had succeeded in maintaining a Protestant government in Scotland, without either condemning or releasing her fellow sovereign. In Fraser's opinion, it was one of the strangest "trials" in legal history, ending with no finding of guilt against either party with one let home to Scotland while the other remained in custody.


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  • - Casket letters

    Imprisonment in England On 2 May 1568, Mary escaped from Loch Leven with the aid of George Douglas, brother of Sir William Douglas, the castle's owner. She managed to raise an army of 6000 men, and met Moray's smaller forces at the Battle of Langside on 13 May. She was defeated and fled south; after spending the night at Dundrennan Abbey, she crossed the Solway Firth into England by fishing boat on 16 May. She landed at Workington in Cumberland in the north of England and stayed overnight... [читать подробенее]