The execution of Mary, Queen of Scots was witnessed by numerous invited people even though it was done indoors at Fortheringhay Castle. The following report of Mary’s execution was written by one of those witnesses for Elizabeth’s ministers. There seems to be a general agreement that Mary died a brave death.
|Her prayers being ended, the executioners asked her Grace to forgive them her death. She answered, “I forgive you will all my heart, for I hope you shall make an end of my troubles.” Then they began to take off her outer clothes.This done, one of the women put a holy cloth over the Queen of Scot’s face, and pinned it fast to her hair covering. Then the queen knelt down on the cushion and, without any token, sign of fear of death, she spoke aloud a psalm in Latin.
Then, groping for the block, she laid down her head. Lying most quietly upon the block and stretching out her arms, she cried in Latin “Into your hands, o Lord” three or four times.
One of the executioners held her slightly with one of his hands and she endured two strokes of the axe, making very small noise or none at all.
He lifted up her head to the view of all and bade “God save the Queen”. Then, her head-dress falling off, her hair was as grey as someone of threescore and ten years old and cropped short.
Then one of the executioners noticed her little dog which had hidden under her clothes. Afterwards, it would not leave the corpse, but came and lay between head and shoulders.