EDINBURGH EXPERT WALKING TOURS - BLOG
Apologies for the terrible approximation of a Scottish accent, echoing the catchphrase of one of Scotland's greatest TV crime dramas, Taggart. But there really has been a murder, and a terribly famous one at that.
On this day in 1566, David Rizzio, secretary and (possibly) lover of Mary, Queen of Scots, was brutally murdered in the queen's bedchamber at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. She was heavily pregnant at the time, with the child who would later be crowned James VI and I, and it has been speculated by some that the brutal attack on Rizzio was carefully designed to induce a miscarriage in Mary.
Darnley, Mary's second husband, was jealous of the close relationship between Mary and Rizzio. He may even have believed that the child Mary carried was Rizzio's - he certainly had a hand in plotting the attack, designed to rid Holyrood of Rizzio and frighten Mary, in what was just one of a number of plots to destabilise her reign.
On the evening of 9 March, a posse of men, led by Lord Ruthven, stormed into Mary's chamber where she was dining with Rizzio. The men demanded that Mary give Rizzio up, but she refused, and (it is said) stood between Rizzio and his attackers. The men threatened her with a pistol, and threw her aside to get to Rizzio.
Rizzio struggled against ensuing assault and fought back, but in the end was overpowered by them. He was stabbed a total of 56 times, before his body was kicked down a staircase, and stripped of his jewellery. He was buried the same night, his body interred in an (unmarked) grave in the grounds of Holyrood Abbey - although a grave in the Canongate Kirkyard is reputed to be Rizzio's final resting place.
The murder of Rizzio was certainly as politically motivated as much as it was personally motivated, yet Mary resisted the attempt on her life, and that of her unborn child, and stood steadfast in her position as queen. Just over a year later, in April 1567, her husband Darnley would himself be unceremoniously murdered, possibly with Mary's assistance, in retaliation for his involvement in the assassination of Rizzio.
And as to whether the child she carried - who was later crowned joint king of both England and Scotland - was truly Darnley's or that of the Italian Rizzio, perhaps we'll never know!
Visitors to the Palace of Holyroodhouse can still visit the chamber in which Rizzio was murdered.
Learn more about the lives (and deaths) of other Scottish lords, noblemen, kings and queens, on a private walking tour of the city.
Edinburgh Expert Walking Tours is run by Gareth, an adopted native of Edinburgh, with over 20 years experience of living and working in the city...
Search the blog archive...