Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A notable first

I occasionally peruse the lists of who was born when, who died when & what happened when for interesting little bits.   I don't even do this so I can blog about it (although sometimes I do); I do it because these little windows can be so interesting to look through. 

Today has quite an obscure gem:  the assignation of the 1st Earl of Moray in 1570.  Who was the 1st Earl of Moray you ask?  Well let me tell you the Tudors had nothing NOTHING on the Stewarts.  In fact, for over the top melodrama, the Stewarts just might take the taco.  Mary, Queen of Scots made one of the more notable exits (on the Tudor's dime no less) by concealing her little dog under her very sober skirts & blood red petticoats.  When the head came off, the dog panicked, charged out & I am guessing scared the crap out of everyone there for the private viewing.  You have to admit it is whole level of planning you just don't see much when it comes to one's own execution. 

The 1st Earl of Moray was one of the legion of James Stewarts so let's just call him Moray-1.  Moray-1 was also one of the legion of illegitimate sons of his royal father (guess what his name was, go on...guess).   Even in the day when a king could father child with a married-woman-not-his-wife & claim him, Moray-1 turned heads.  Not because of his inauspicious origins (they weren't so inauspicious then, you can thank the Victorians for that) but because of his extreme ambition.  Imagine what extreme ambition in an age where rivals knifed each other, blew up each others homes, etc. must have looked like (welcome to the upside of those prudey Victorians).

You can do the reading on Moray-1 if you wish, I am just going to give you the highlights:  despite being big with church reform (among other reforms-that's right these savages were REFORMERS), he was chief adviser to his half-sister, the above mentioned Mary.  He had no respect for her priests, but apparently he had a knack for keeping her out of trouble.  Or at least only in the trouble he wanted her in.  Among the trouble he thought she should avoid:  Lord Darnley.  That is another piece of work you can read up on your own.  Back & forth, back & forth Moray-fled, Darnley maybe killed Rizzio, Moray-1 came back, Darnley escaped being blow up only to be ?strangled? while Moray-1 was out of town.  He lay low through the next incarnation of intrigue & returned when herself abdicated the throne in favor of her infant son, James Stewart.  Guess who got made regent?  Yes, James Stewart, of course, but which one?  If you guessed our man Moray-1 you would be correct.

Things tick along eventfully: raids, betrayals, & so forth for the next three years until....until today in 1570 another guy named James but not Stewart waited in his uncle the Archbishop's house & shot Moray-1 from a window.  & that is the end of Moray-1.

What makes this particular story interesting?  Well, the murder of James Stewart, First Earl of Moray is the first recorded instance of assassination by firearm.   Sweet, huh?  The only thing that would make this anniversary sweeter for me is if it had lined up with Gun Appreciation Day last Saturday, but you cannot have everything.

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