I’ve written other posts about the legal arguments that Mary would use in this trial, also about the letter she wrote to Anthony Babington that got her into this mess in the first place. But I have not yet written about why she decided to attend the trial – since her presence lent it the legitimacy that would allow them to convict and condemn her.
Because Mary was a foreign queen – and one who had sought asylum and been held against her will….so it was a bit of a stretch for England to claim jurisdiction over her. Mind you, Parliament had passed an Act of Association that would give them that right, but she still did not have to follow their rules.
Jane Dunn in her wonderful “Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens” points to Mary’s “dramatic temperament” that “led her to prefer to be centre stage in any arena.” And because the whole world was watching, this would be her one change to refute the charges (which she did try to do – she started out by claiming she had neither heard of Anthony Babington nor corresponded with him…though that quickly broke down). And perhaps even more important, it would also be her opportunity to position herself as a martyr for the Catholic cause and the proceedings as a witch hunt, and hopefully spur a European power to finally rescue her after all these years….
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