Mary, queen of Scots was one of the most fascinating and controversial monarchs of 16th century Europe. At one time, she claimed the crowns of four nations – Scotland, France, England and Ireland. Her physical beauty and kind heart were acknowledged even by her enemies. Yet she lacked the political skills to rule successfully in Scotland. Her second marriage was unpopular and ended in murder and scandal; her third was even less popular and ended in forced abdication in favor of her infant son. She fled to England in 1568, hoping for the help of her cousin, Elizabeth I. Her presence was dangerous for the English queen, who feared Catholic plotting on Mary’s behalf. The two queens never met and Mary remained imprisoned for the next nineteen years. She was executed in 1587, only forty-four years old. By orders of the English government, all of her possessions were burned. In 1603, upon Elizabeth’s death, Mary’s son became king of England as James I.