“It came wi a lass, it’ll gang wi a lass”. These are the rumoured words that were uttered by Scotland’s King James V as he lay on his deathbed with an alleged fever after his army had been defeated at the Battle of Solway Moss by the English in 1542. His words have been regarded by many as a reference to how the Stuarts had ascended to the crown through Marjorie Bruce, daughter of Robert the Bruce, in the fourteenth century, confirming their legitimacy as a royal family.
With this in mind, BBC Radio 4’s ‘It Came In with a Lass’ is the first of ten plays planned to be written by Mike Walker to portray the dramatic struggles the Stuart dynasty faced in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
This 90 minute episode will focus on Mary, Queen of Scots, as she reaches Scotland in need of protection after the death of her young husband, the French King, Francis II in 1560. Mary is quickly confronted with numerous nobles and apparently loyal supporters who she must decide whether to trust or not. Men look to control her, including Lord Darnley and the Earl of Bothwell. Her relationships are disputed and dramatic. Her religious loyalties are used by others and influence the political threats in England, which consequently lead to severe events which will define Mary’s name in history.
Mary’s story is one that has been told by many historians and writers. She was notoriously used by the men around her, forced to abdicate her crown for her one year old son, James, and perceived as a great threat to her cousin Elizabeth’s crown. Her life was plagued with murder, anxiety, love, religious conflict, jealousy and fear for the Stuart dynasty.
This programme was directed by Jessica Dromgoole & Sasha Yevtushenko, starring Jeany Spark as Mary, Brian Cox as John Knox and Tom Mison as Darnley. It will be played at 2:30pm on Saturday 29th June on Radio 4, and will be available online after the broadcast.
Photo credit: Lisby via PhotoPin