There’s Something About Mary, Queen of Scots: Part Ten: Legacy (with Allison Epstein and Lana Wood Johnson)

When it comes to Mary’s legacy and scandilicious score, there’s too much for one person to cover. Which is why I’ve brought in Vulgar History all-stars (and Mary QofS fans) Allison Epstein and Lana Wood Johnson for this discussion. We also got input from author and Scottish person Jennifer Morag Henderson to help figure out the scores. Is it any wonder this is nearly 2.5 hours long? Mary deserves no less.

Learn more about Lana Wood Johnson and her books at and follow her on IG and Threads at @ muliebris

Learn more about Allison Epstein and their books at and follow them on IG and Twitter @ rapscallison

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There’s Something About Mary, Queen of Scots: Part Ten: Legacy (with Allison Epstein and Lana Wood Johnson)

Co-Host Episode Title

August 2, 2023

Ann: Hello and welcome to Vulgar History, a feminist women’s history comedy podcast. This is There’s Something About Mary, Queen of Scots, Part Ten and I have two special guests with me. First of all, it’s a person who has been here for more than half of this ten-part series within a series, Allison Epstein. Welcome.

Allison: Hello, I’m not a surprise anymore. I’m just here, happy to be here.

Ann: You’re just kind of always here. But also, who’s that giggle? It’s the person who hasn’t been on any of the Mary-specific episodes, but she was on Catherine de’ Medici, she was on Marie de Guise, she is Lana Wood Johnson.

Lana: Hello, I am not Allison Epstein. [giggles]

Ann: I’m picturing– Okay, so Lana, because you haven’t been here for the Mary-specific episodes, could you explain your personal knowledge of/connection to the story of Mary, Queen of Scots so everybody knows?

Lana: Well, I’m not related to Mary, Queen of Scots no matter what my relatives will tell you. I am in fact related to Kenneth MacAlpin, the very first King of Scotland, which was a misunderstanding– That was one of your first corrections, that there was a King of Scotland before Robert the Bruce. There was absolutely a King of Scotland before Robert the Bruce, I am descended from him, I share his bloodline. But I was talking about that line of descent. Just wanted to clarify that. Also, because my relatives were all convinced that I was related to Mary, Queen of Scots, I became obsessed with her in 7th grade and read the Antonia Fraser version of her biography and have been following all the updates, discoveries, and historical changes since then. So, she’s one of my people.

And I’ve been spoilering Ann before–Ann’s like, “But Mary is so boring.” It’s like, “Oh no, no. No, no, no, no.” So, I’ve been watching like that friend that makes you read their favourite book this whole thing going, “Yup. Yup. Nope. She’s getting to a good part now!” [laughs] The whole time. It’s been very fun.

Ann: I will say, I never thought Mary, Queen of Scots was boring. I just didn’t know as much about her time in England as I do now and I was like, “Lana, I don’t know how to talk about it.” Oh, six hours later, yeah, there’s stuff to talk about in that part.

Allison: Let’s get into the plots though. It’s time.

Lana: “It’ll be half an episode at most. It’ll be so boring and then how will I do it?” Like, “No, no, no. You wait.”

Ann: Lana, I pictured, do you know that meme template of the little creepy guy at the window and he’s like, “He-he-he! Yesss.” That’s how I pictured you listening to me doing these episodes because you’re like, “Yes, Ann understands now. Yes, now she’s getting it. Yes.”

Lana: I believe I specifically said, “Wait until you get to the Douglases” [laughs] at one point and you were like, “Who?” Okay, we’re in for a ride.

Allison: And now Ann and I, every time we see each other, are like, “A Douglas! A Douglas!” [Lana giggles]

Ann: Yeah, and that is widespread. I’ve heard from people in the tits out brigade, one of them has the last name Douglas so that’s exciting to me. One of them works with somebody called Douglas and they, in their head, can’t stop thinking that and I’m just like, “Yesss.” That’s me at the window. “He-he! Yesss.” [Ann laughs] And Allison, can you share the phrase that is stuck in your head now, please? When you take your pills every day.

Allison: Oh, every morning when I take my pills, there’s Ann’s voice in the back of my head that just goes, “Herman, my pills!” So, thank you for that.

Ann: Yeah, I’m in everyone’s brain now, and my own, all the time. Just for this, I was looking at the Douglas family’s Wikipedia page and it says “Motto: A Douglas! A Douglas!” And I’m like, “Yeah it is, yeah it is. I know that.”

Okay, so I do just want to let everybody know as well, that today we’re going to be talking about the legacy of Mary, Queen of Scots and we’re also going to be doing her Scandilicious score because, again, Lana just smiles, nods and laughs because I actually found my original handwritten notes that were like, “Episode Four: Her time in England plus scoring.” I thought that was going to be a cool 45-minute episode [Lana giggles] but, in fact, Allison and I spent two and a half hours, ending with her execution, didn’t get into anything else.

But yeah, I want the listeners to know that we’re doing this episode and then this is not the end of this season. It’s There’s Something About Mary, Queen of Scots, so this has been her story, which has been ten parts. But we’re also going to be doing some more episodes, by we I mean me, about some other people from this story who we want to talk about more. So, there’s going to be a Bess of Hardwick episode, there’s going to be a Four Marys episode, and we’re going to be talking about Elisabeth of Valois. So, the season continues! So, keep checking your app. [laughs]

Lana: I’m entirely here for the Elisabeth episode.

Ann: Yeah, yeah. And also, I’ve got some piping hot news. This is wild to me. Maybe a year ago I was like, “Yeah, I’m going to do Mary, Queen of Scots, that’ll be my next season.” And then first, the ciphered letters were uncovered and I was like, “Ohhh, this is very timely, making my podcast more up-to-date than any current biography of her.” And then more information just came out about these Elizabeth I papers which I’ll talk to you about when we get to why we’re talking about that.

So, [chuckles] picking up where we left off last time… Allison and Lana, as you know, and just so the listeners know that this is what I want from them, please interrupt me constantly.

Allison: I’m not sure if the three of us have ever been on the main podcast together but if you are not a patron and are not familiar with the vibe of a Vulgarpiece Theatre episode, this is what it is. [laughs] So, consider that your ad for the Patreon.

Ann: Yeah, absolutely. So, we stopped, Mary, Queen of Scots died, she was executed. Elizabeth died several years later, she died in 1603 and she named Mary’s son James, James I– Okay, James became James I of England; this is why he’s James I/VI, which is a thing that annoys me to have to say and write but it’s true. He was the sixth King James of Scotland but he’s the first King James of England. And after him, we don’t have to do that, his son becomes James II because he’s the King of England/Scotland. So, that’s why he has two different things.

And so, what was just recently discovered, “The British Library used a new technique to uncover passages of Camden’s Annals, the first official account of Elizabeth’s reign.” This news just came out two days ago from the time we are recording this. So, William Camden wrote a record of Elizabeth’s reign, but he wrote it during the reign of James. But what they just figured out is that he wrote it, and then James was like, “Can you please annotate it to make me sound better and to make this all sound less messy? Thank you.”

Allison: Darnley’s son to the end, I tell you what.

Lana: He’s a messy queer and we love to hate him. [laughs]

Allison: We do, we do.

Ann: Darnley we don’t love to hate; Darnley I think we just straight up hate. James has that 1% of Mary, augh. So, what happened is Darnley Jr, AKA James I/VI, was like, “Can you please rewrite this thing?” And so, what’s just happened is the state-of-the-art imaging technology, they basically, as far as I understand, X-rayed and were able to see what was crossed off and written on these things before.

Allison: This is news to me and that was a real gasp because I’m excited now. What you are saying to me is that you are uncovering the mess through X-rays and I’m very excited! [laughs]

Ann: This news just came out. A couple of people from the tits out brigade sent me this link and I was like, “Oh!” I think Emily was the first person to send it, so shout-out to Emily, but I was just like, “Wait, what?!” Luckily this came out just before we recorded, but I was like, I hope that there’s not any more significant paperwork discovered between us recording this and this episode coming out because I want to have the latest information.

So anyway, what’s important to us and this discussion right now is that for 400 years, people have believed what was said in the Camden’s Annals that Elizabeth upon her deathbed was like, “James is my heir.” But what this reveals is that, in fact, that upon her deathbed:

Analysis of the manuscript draft shows that the deathbed scene was a fabricated addition that Camden did not intend originally to put into his history. He presumably included it to appease James so that his succession looked more predetermined than it had actually been. Elizabeth was too ill to speak in her final hours and no other historical evidence points to this deathbed scene being true.


Allison: That is huge.

Lana: [giggles] The most James thing ever.

Allison: And the most James thing I’ve ever heard. It’s incredible. [laughs]

Lana: “But what if you said that she said I was going to be king? Because that sounds more right.”

Allison: That sounds historically correct, yes.

Ann: It’s great. There’s one article from the Guardian that I read about it and that was the most pertinent to this conversation, but I know that some of the phrasing about when Elizabeth was excommunicated by the Pope was also kind of softened to make it sound less… Anyway, so that’s my exciting news. A week ago, maybe I would have said, “On her deathbed, Elizabeth said, ‘James is my heir.’” No. No. On the deathbed, James was like, “I’m just going to be the heir and let’s go.”

Lana: “Fight me.”

Allison: And look at us now.

Lana: “I’m heir. Fight me.” [giggles]

Ann: So, ultimately, in whatever underhanded or legitimate way it happened, James, Mary’s son became the King of England. And then this set up… So, all British monarchs since James and through to today’s monarch, Charles III, have been descended from Mary, Queen of Scots and Darnley. So, this is where the lineage, it’s moved back and forth which we’re not going to get into today because we have enough to talk about.

Allison: We cannot make this three hours. As soon as we tell Lana to talk about the Hanovers, the rest of the day is going to be…

Lana: No! No Hanovers.

Ann: No, we’re not getting into Germany. No. But basically, this is the lineage. Actually, Lana, can you talk about this? So, this is part of what is weird and interesting about the legacy of Mary, Queen of Scots. Elizabeth famously died unmarried with no children; Mary died with a son who became the next monarch and that’s where the lineage came from. So, it’s kind of like the two of them are co-ancestors. Elizabeth is this idealized queen, but Mary is the actual ancestor. So, can you explain, just that mess?

Lana: How the Victorians made you think that this was the most boring story anybody has ever heard in your entire life?

Ann: Mm-hm.

Lana: Basically, oh gosh… So, James manages to have four kings in a row that descend from him directly, like father-to-son, father-to-son. They’re all the messiest, messiest bitches you’ve ever met, [laughs] to the point where that’s where we get pilgrims from and, [laughs] like, all of the whole Oliver Cromwell mess. So, there’s, like, ruining everything. Charles II gets deposed, basically, gosh, I can never remember.

Ann: Charles I.

Lana: Charles I got deposed. Charles, Charles, James. So, James II dies, did he…? You should have prepared me for this because now I can’t remember. He died–

Ann: I’m sorry, I’m sorry. You don’t need to get into the details of it. Like, James II died and then it was his daughters, it was Mary and then Anne came from James II.

Lana: Yeah, it was the daughters. And then they run out of kids and then they have to go back to the other line and find some Germans to bring in. But eventually, the way it all works out is that the only people who are actually, genuinely descended from Charles II that are in the royal family at this point, are William and Harry, and Camilla.

Ann: Yeah.

Lana: And the Victorians get to this point where they’re rewriting history, much like the French were rewriting the Valois history, and the Bourbons and all that. So, they have the Bourbons but they want to vilify the Valois. Well, the English can’t vilify Mary, Queen of Scots because she is the direct ancestor of all of the current line of kings, but Elizabeth is the hero. So, they make Elizabeth the hero and they water down Mary. So, it’s like, “Well, she was really a victim of all of these terrible people, and she never really did anything and then she just died. Elizabeth had to; these bad guys forced her hand, and it was just a tragedy. Mary, Queen of Scots is just a tragedy.” It’s like, no. We’ll talk about that part though, but they basically rewrote it.

Ann: And this is where a lot of the artwork comes from – and I’ve shared a lot of them on the Instagram over these past couple of months – in the 19th century, in the Victorian era, Mary, Queen of Scots was a popular subject of paintings and it’s always her, kind of, swooning. It’s her swooning as Rizzio is being murdered; it’s her swooning as she’s escaping Lochleven; it’s like, her just being this, “Oh, poor me! The cruel hand of fate is doing all these things to me,” is the vibe. And I think I’m going to guess part of it is because Victoria is the queen and the last long-lasting queen regnant in England was Elizabeth, so she wants to connect herself to Elizabeth and be like, “Like her, I’m going to be a good queen.” But Elizabeth did this thing where she killed Victoria’s actual ancestor. So, there’s this weird…

Anyway, what you just said Lana is what I’ve heard from a couple of people– sorry, I just want to finish this thought before I forget it. I’ve heard from a couple of people who are from Britain, I think people from England who have said they took their, what is it, the GCSEs, the test, exams you take over there, and their impression as like, adult people who studied her in school was that Mary, Queen of Scots was kind of this flighty person who got put in jail and then got tricked into doing a treason. So, that narrative is still very pervasive, at least in the school system in at least England. So yeah, that’s what a lot of people have been telling me, they’re like, “Oh, I didn’t know. I thought she was kind of this passionate person who fell for the wrong guy.” And I’m like, that’s what I’ve just spent 16 hours debunking so I’m glad there’s a little army of people now who know the truth.

Lana: And Victoria herself really wanted to be this dainty lady who didn’t do much. She wanted this ideal of feminism which is not true about her as a human being. But she connected herself back to Mary and made Mary this ideal version of femininity that she was then this tragic queen, sort of, and that’s who Victoria identified with. She wasn’t going to be this hard-ass Elizabeth; she was going to be more like Mary.

Allison: But Victoria was fucked, and Elizabeth was not.

Lana: [laughs] Victoria had a sex addiction. [laughs]

Allison: Uh-huh, that’s what I have to contribute to this conversation. Queen Victoria was horny as shit and so Elizabeth I was not a great role model for Victoria.

Lana: [laughs] Whereas Mary had three husbands and she fell in love a lot. And so, she could identify– She took the parts of Mary that she wanted, and she took the parts of Elizabeth she wanted and then made everybody fall in line with that.

Ann: Yeah, and I think part of it too is that Mary was like a wife and a mother and that was Victoria’s kind of like, “This is what all women should be like. We should idealize her.” It’s like, “Ooh, but she was executed for treason.” So, it’s like, “Asterisk, she was just the poor victim of fate.”

Lana: She was barely a wife and barely a mother, but she was a wife and a mother, technically. [laughs]

Ann: Yeah, technically, more so than Elizabeth. And we’re going to talk about the weird ways that their legacies sort of entwine but thank you, Lana because that’s a weird part of it. Actually, it starts getting weird in terms of the tomb.

So, I got some information about this from an article on the Royal Central website, this is an article by Elizabeth Jane Timms. So, three years after James became king of Engalso, he commissioned a marble tomb for his mother. So, she had been buried at Peterborough Abbey, which was the abbey where Catherine of Aragon was buried, it’s just kind of “The place where they put the queens who we want to pretend like… Don’t worry about it.” But James was like, “This is literally my mother.” So, I don’t know, I have a guess, I have an assumption, but I don’t know how much of this was him just being like, “I need to quash any worries that people have that I’m illegitimate, that I shouldn’t be the King. We can’t treat my mother like this second-class queen.” So already it’s like, “Oh, this poor victim of fate, Mary, Queen of Scots.” But he wanted her to be treated with the honours of a queen because it was his mom, even though he hadn’t seen her for all of his life.

Lana: Or was ever nice to her.

Ann: Or… yeah.

Allison: But when it’s useful for him, he’s going to be a good son.

Ann: Exactly. He just kind of needed to do this. And Mary would have appreciated it because she didn’t realize he was a piece of shit, until the end when she did realize this.

Lana: She had been like, “Oh, he loves me.”

Ann: Well, she was like, “When he becomes an adult, he’s going to come rescue me.” And then he was just like, “No, I’m not,” and that was pretty upsetting for her.

Allison: And Darnley from beyond is standing at the window like, “He-he-he.”

Ann: [laughs] Yes. So, it took about six years for this marble tomb to be created and it’s there, in Westminster Abbey. So, her body was exhumed from Peterborough Abbey and moved to Westminster Abbey. “Today a flag of Scotland hangs in Peterborough Cathedral to mark the former location of Mary’s tomb.” So, her tomb is at the southern end of what’s called the Henry VII Chapel. It’s right opposite Elizabeth’s tomb. [laughs]

Allison: I love it so much. It’s so fucking petty.

Ann: This is the closest that these two women ever were. [Lana giggles] All that Mary wanted for so long was to meet Elizabeth and only in death were they ever in the same room. Actually, I saw a thing that said the closest they ever were in life was there was one point where Elizabeth was en route from one place to another place and Mary was staying in one of Bess of Hardwick’s homes kind of nearby. So, it’s like, they were within a mile of each other for these 5 minutes.

Anyway, Mary, Queen of Scots is opposite Elizabeth’s tomb. Elizabeth’s tomb was also erected at the order of James I/VI. So, Elizabeth’s tomb is shared with Mary I, but it sounds like her tomb is very much just like “ELIZABETH!” and then in small font, “And also Mary,” because no one really wanted to remember her.

Allison: I love that because you know Elizabeth’s ghost is so fucking stressed out all the time. She’s just like, “Okay, the two people who hated me the most are either right across from me or in my tomb with me, and this is not cool.” William Cecil, wherever he is buried, is like, “What the fuck is going on?”

Ann: So, Mary’s tomb– Again, if people, I love this, I’ve said it a couple of times on the podcast, I love it when people travel to sites I’ve talked about and send me pictures of them. So, next time someone is in Westminster Abbey, please take a picture because I’m curious. So apparently, Mary’s tomb is much taller and more magnificent than Elizabeth’s. She’s also– This is just, in terms of, like – and we’re going to talk about where Mary, Queen of Scots’s ghost is because it’s in a lot of places – but let’s say, if her ghost is there, she’s also hanging out with her mother-in-law, Margaret Douglas.

Allison: A Douglas!

Ann: A Douglas, is Darnley’s mom, in that same area. And apparently, on Margaret Douglas’s tomb, a small figure of Darnley kneeling was incorporated in the tomb.

Allison: [laughs] I thought you were going to say that there’s a tiny Baby James that says, “Avenge my cause, oh Lord.” [laughs]

Ann: That would be keeping with everything. No, it’s a little tiny Darnley, a little Darnley action figure is on there.

Anyway, the other important tomb in the south part of this aisle is Lady Margaret Beaufort, so she’s the ancestor of all of the Tudors, she was the mother of Henry VII. So, it’s kind of like, I’m not sure if James put her there or if he was just like, “That’s where she is, let’s put Mary there.” So, it’s underlying the fact that “Mary is descended from the Tudors. That makes me, James, a legitimate king. Look, behold, all the tombs together. All these ladies.”

Lana: “This is my proof!” [laughs]

Ann: Yeah. So, on Mary’s tomb, it’s one of those tombs that kind of looks like a big, marble coffin with her lying on top of it. There’s a likeness of her, which looks a lot like the later portraits of her, it was probably based off of her death masque, which was a thing. When people were beheaded, they would make a little plaster or whatever, they would make a copy of what the person’s face looked like. So, it looks a lot like her, she’s wearing a fabulous outfit which, you know what, good, because that’s part of what she was known for. “She’s wearing a ruff, her hair is styled,” I don’t know if Mary Seaton was around to consult to be like, “This is the marble wig I would like her to be wearing, thank you.” “She’s wearing a long cloak fastened by a brooch. The lion of Scotland is at her feet.” So, it’s very much just like, “Here lies a queen,” is the vibe of it all. James is just being like, “She was a queen, not a traitor! Which makes me cool, don’t worry about it.”

There is a Latin inscription on it, and this is where I had to do a little bit of digging around. So much of this writing is just like, “Written by the Earl of Northampton,” and I’m like, “Who the fuck is that? Use peoples’ names, please.” So, the Latin inscription was written by Henry Howard, the first Earl of Northampton. He is the brother of T-Dog, who we remember. Lana, I don’t know if you’ve heard that episode yet but that’s the guy who wanted to marry Mary and then he was executed, he was in charge of her trial. Thomas Howard, I assume, was his name, that’s why I call him T-Dog. Anyway, Henry Howard is also the great uncle of tits out Frances Howard so… Whenever I see a Howard, I’m like, “What’s the relation to Frances?” So, at the time that this tomb was being made Frances was– The murder plot had not happened, but the murder plot happened just two years after this tomb went up. So, she’s, I think, already married to that guy.

Anyway, the inscription, which is in Latin speaks about Mary’s heroism, it skips over the events leading to her death and in part, in translation says, “Great in marriage, [Allison laughs] greater still in lineage.” Oh yeah, great in marriage? To Darnley.

Allison: I’m sorry that’s so funny. [laughs] She had the worst three marriages of any human being I’ve ever met.

Ann: “Great in marriage, greater still in lineage.”

Allison: Okay, James, who had that inscription commissioned. [laughs]

Ann: “Greatest of all in her progeny.” [all laugh]

Lana: Narcissist in a narcissist.

Ann: Yeah. “Here lies buried the daughter, bride, and mother of kings.”

Allison: God, I’m so fucking mad.

Ann: This is real Fredegund wife and mother energy in this, yeah.

Allison: This is even more aggressive. Calm his tits because what the fuck?

Ann: And then it says, “God grant that her sons and all who are descended from her may hereafter behold the cloudless days of eternity.”

Allison: Why did he write sons?! He knows he’s the only son! [laughs]

Lana: He’s going to have sons and those sons are going to be important and not fuck everything up, it will be great.

Allison: Lord. Lord!

Ann: Yeah. Here’s the thing. It’s, like, Mary and Darnley, first of all, Darnley, piece of shit. But also, Mary and Darnley, cousins. So, it’s like, of course, there’s a bunch of fucked up people coming after that. The mixture of just Darnley’s personality with the inbreeding aspects it’s like, yeah, of course, they’re all assholes.

Lana: Which is what Victoria liked about her.

Allison: Can you imagine if Francis had lived, how cute their kid would have been? This is what I think about after watching Reign.

Ann: Her and Francis?

Allison: Yeah. They would have had a great kid and they would have raised him well and it would have been a schemey little bitch and that’s what the world needed.

Lana: All of French history would be entirely different. [giggles]

Allison: All of English history would be completely different. America might not exist, who is to say?

Ann: We’re going to talk about all of this when we get into the legacy and significance. The sliding doors of it all. [Lana and Allison laugh]

Anyway, and then this is what I find– It’s generally described as, “Isn’t this nice?” And I’m like, “This is real fucked up.” So, let me know what you think when I explain to you. So, Elizabeth is buried with her sister, Mary. In 1867, basically, nobody knew where James’ tomb was– They knew where his tomb was, they just didn’t know where his body was buried and in 1867 for some reason, some people cared. So, they were exhuming the bodies from this area to try and find James and they thought, maybe his body was put with that of his mother. So, they opened up her grave and then they found that she was buried along with a bunch of her descendants who were children, who died. So, she’s buried with James’ eldest son Henry, who died as a teenager; she’s buried alongside Anne Hyde, who is the first wife of her great-grandson James II; her granddaughter Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia and her son, Prince Rupert of the Rhine are buried there, as well as numerous children of James II who died in infancy, as well as all of the dead children of Queen Anne I.

Allison: How big is this tomb?

Ann: They’re all there, just hanging out.

Allison: This is a real Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the four grandparents in the bed situation. There’s not enough room for this.

Ann: The way that this is described often is that, you know, Elizabeth it’s like, “Barren. Spinster. Alone.” But then Mary, Queen of Scots it’s like, “Mother of kings, buried with all of her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren. Look at her being this traditional feminine figure of wife and mother.” That’s how it’s been described but I see it more just kind of like, “What the fuck? This is fucked up, this is weird.”

Lana: They can’t throw them out. They’re not worthy of their own tomb so you’ve got to put them somewhere. Westminster is not a big place.

Ann: Yeah. It makes more sense to put them with Mary than with Elizabeth, I guess, but this has been described in numerous things I’ve looked at as being like, “In death, Mary was comforted with the bodies of her various dead child descendants.”

Allison: I suspect that was not a comfort for several reasons.

Lana: “Can’t I just be alone and important?”

Allison: “Here’s a dead baby, do you feel better now Mary?” Like, what the fuck?

Ann: Here, I’m going to read, this is sort of typical of how this is written. So, this is from Elizabeth Jane Timms’s post, which, thank you Elizabeth Jane Timms, she really got into detail about all the tombs in her post on Royal Central.

Mary, Queen of Scots does not lie alone. Mary shares her last resting place with some of those who are descended from her. For Mary, even in the grave, proves herself the matriarch of the burgeoning Stuart dynasty, in contrast to Elizabeth, the childless and last Tudor monarch. 

So, like it’s a contest, sort of thing.

Lana: I do love that James was buried in a lead tomb like they had to protect us from him.

Allison: Did they ever find him?

Ann: I think they did, yeah. “He was subsequently located in the vault with Henry VII and Elizabeth of York.”

Allison: Okay, sure.

Ann: Which is interesting too that they were like, he probably said, “This is where I want to be” to be like, “Look I’m with Henry VII, the first Tudor.”

Allison: “I’m the most Tudor who has ever Tudored.”

Ann: Yeah. Okay, and then the other thing I wanted to mention is that Mary, we know from this letter, she wanted to be buried in France. Reasonable, that was the happiest, least stressful time of her life. But she was not buried in France, which worked out maybe well because all of the royal tombs were ransacked during the French Revolution. So, had she been buried in France, there probably wouldn’t be a tomb to speak of but because she was buried in England, there is. But then an irony is that a lot of Mary’s problems technically started when her de Guise uncles convinced her to add the royal arms of England to her coat of arms. Remember Cecil like…

Lana: Convinced.

Ann: “Did you not do this when you were 14?” And she was like, “Are you still talking about that? Oh my god.” Anyway, that was one of the things that led to Cecil hating her and stuff but now she’s buried alongside the kings and queens of England, so that’s irony, I think.

And now we’re moving on to the ghosts of Mary, Queen of Scots. First of all, I want to say, my own personal experience with the ghost of Mary, Queen of Scots which is that I ordered a book two months ago from a used bookstore online that was, like, Mary, Queen of Scots and All Her Ghosts, and it still hasn’t arrived. So, then a month ago, I ordered a second copy of it… Also still hasn’t arrived. So, I’m just like, Mary, Queen of Scots’s ghost doesn’t want me to read this book about her ghosts! That’s my personal story.

Luckily, I found this website, Spooky Scotland, [Allison chuckles] which I will quickly go through all the places Mary, Queen of Scots’s ghost is, which as the guy who wrote this says, “Scarcely a castle or stately house in Scotland which is not said to be haunted by Mary, Queen of Scots.” True.

Allison: I’m very excited to get to my favourite Mary, Queen of Scots ghost and I will alert the listeners when we reach it.

Ann: But in the defense of every stately home and manor in England and Scotland, Mary, Queen of Scots moved around a lot, and she probably did sleep in… Like, when she was Queen of Scotland, she did these summer progresses where she went all over the country. When she was in England, goodness knows she was going house-to-house, both on the run and when she was living with Bess of Hardwick. She does have legitimate connections to a lot of houses and she moved around enough that I think anyone could be like, “Oh yeah, she slept here once.” And it’s like, great, get your bag, get those tourists in. There’s that one rumour about like, “Apparently she lost her shawl on this cliff and that’s why this cliff is now called The Shawl.” People are just like, “This is a way to get people to care about our little corner of this country.”

Lana: Yeah, now Scotland likes her.

Ann: Yes. And actually, so when we get to the scoring, I messaged Jennifer Morag Henderson – who is the author of the Jean Gordon/Mary, Queen of Scots biography that I used as a major source – because she’s a Scottish person who has written about Mary, Queen of Scots to get her take on all the four categories, especially Legacy because I was curious what do people in Scotland think. So, I’ll let you know her thoughts then.

So, Stirling Castle. This is the castle where every time Mary, as a child, people were trying to kidnap her, and then when James, people were trying to kidnap him as a baby, this is where they would go because it’s like a fortress.

Allison: The anti-baby kidnapping castle, if you will.

Ann: Yeah, this is the, “And no baby was ever kidnapped from this castle.” So, the ghost seen at the castle is called the “Pink Lady,” which is the phantom of a beautiful girl wearing a pink silk gown. And I’m going to say, if Mary, Queen of Scots’s ghost was around, it would be wearing black and white, it would not be wearing pink.

Lana: Pink is not her colour, not with that hair!

Ann: “Another apparition called the “Green Lady,” in the same house, two colour-coded ghosts, “Is said to be a servant who rescued her mistress, Mary, Queen of Scots after a bedside candle set fire to her sheets,” which is a thing I mentioned in that episode because it reminded me of Clarissa from Reign, the kind of ghostly girl who helped Mary out in various ways. So, I like the fact that maybe the ghost of a person who helped Mary is haunting there, that I can believe, the Green Lady.

Hermitage Castle, okay. So, this is where… She was only briefly at Hermitage Castle. This is a place where, if you will recall, before Mary married Bothwell, before we knew what a piece of shit he was, he was stabbed in the face by a person called Jack O’ the Park and Mary went to his side and people were like, “Oh that means they were lovers,” or whatever. It didn’t. But anyway, this is where Bothwell went to recover so Mary went to visit him there so apparently her ghost is haunting there. Why? That’s a pretty random thing. I’m not here debunking any of these.

Lana: You’d think Bothwell would haunt that place.

Ann: I’m pretty sure Bothwell haunts the Danish dungeon where…

Allison: The entire country of Denmark probably. “Fuck you, in particular, Denmark,” is what his ghost…

Lana: It was actually his ghost that Hamlet saw. [giggles, Allison gasps and laughs]

Ann: Although I don’t want to discount that Bothwell would haunt there too because apparently Mary is haunting 17 different places, anyone can haunt as many places as they want. That’s how this is going.

Okay, so then Doune Castle. Mary stayed there on several occasions, I think just when she was travelling around, I’m not sure. Anyway, “Doune was held by forces loyal to Mary during the brief civil war which followed her forced abdication. Apparitions of Mary have been seen there.” I don’t know. I think there are other places that Mary, if she was a ghost, and she was going to choose where to haunt, these are some really tenuous places. I think she’d go somewhere that was more meaningful to her in some way.

Okay, Houndwood House. So, the ghostly horses at Houndwood House. So, this is like Mary–

Allison: I love a ghost horse, absolutely.

Ann: Okay, “Mary was said to have visited Houndwood House in the Scottish Borders.” So already, it’s pretty… “One of her rings was found in the house grounds,” so that’s why they think she was there which could be proof or could be that someone stole her ring. God knows all of her jewelry was looted several times when she was in prison. “The sounds of ghostly horses heralded the phantom Mary’s arrival.” I like that one.

Allison: I love that it’s not even her ghost, it’s just the ghosts of the horses that she had one time. Amazing.

Ann: So, one of Mary’s favourite places she went while she was alive was Falkland Palace which has a vast estate, she could do her favourite hobbies of falconry and hunting. This place has the oldest surviving tennis court in the world. We know she was athletic. Anyway, people say that her spirit maybe goes to Falkland Palace, but her apparition is most likely to appear, conveniently for the owners of the Covenanter Hotel in Falkirk. So, there’s a hotel that’s next to this palace and apparently her ghost stays in the hotel. [laughs softly]

Allison: [laughs] In the most expensive room.

Lana: Really convenient.

Ann: Yeah. So anyway, this hotel was not built until 1771. Generously, this person who wrote this, Haunted Scotland, said, “Perhaps another building stood there when Mary was alive.” [laughs]

Allison: That’s giving them a lot of credit. [laughs]

Lana: It was where she was falconry-ing.

Ann: Yeah. But then I’d think it would be the ghost of the falcon. I would love it if there was a ghost of Mary doing falconry, riding a horse, just being active like she liked to be.

Lana: I want more pet hauntings.

Allison: Agree!

Ann: I agree as well. But also, if and when I go to the United Kingdom, I do want to stay in this hotel and see if I…

Lana: Is it close to where Darnley is buried because then we could make it a party.

Ann: Oh, that’s true. Yeah, the first stop of any trip is going to be to spit on Darnley’s grave. That’s what we’ve all agreed upon, I think.

Okay, so then Borthwick Castle, located near Edinburgh. So, this is where she took refuge when she was on the run with Bothwell, men surrounded the castle. This is where she went out and screamed at them and they were all like, “[gasps] Herman, my pills!” because she was swearing. Anyway, she had to sneak out of a window dressed as a page boy. Allison is this…?

Allison: Is this the place where Mary haunts because she wore pants here one time and now her ghost shows up in pants? Yes, this is my favourite ghost. We love it. “Remember how good I looked in those pants? I want to haunt that castle.”

Lana: I’d be the opposite; I’d be haunting the one place I wore a dress. [all laugh]

Allison: “Remember when I really looked great? Let’s go there.”

Ann: Yeah, “Remember that extremely traumatizing time I had to dress as a boy, climb out a window, and be lowered on a rope directly onto a horse to run away and ride a horse for five hours? That. I looked good in those pants. Let’s haunt there.” So, that’s Borthwick Castle, everyone.

Lochleven Castle, this makes sense to me.

Allison: I would haunt Lochleven Castle.

Ann: This is where she was for a year, right? “Her spirit is said to have lingered, long after this great escape.” Although I would say, if I was Mary’s ghost, I wouldn’t want to go back there, a place where I was imprisoned, unless you were, like, trapped– It’s like, she didn’t die there. This is what’s so interesting. It’s like, why would her ghost be in all these places that aren’t the place where…?

Allison: Maybe she looked really, really good in her washerwoman outfit and she wanted to wear that again.

Ann: It’s true. It’s true, she had a lot of outfits.

Lana: You don’t know how ghosts work. Ghosts could be anything.

Ann: I don’t, it’s true. You know, in life, how many times in the story was it like, she met somebody who was her enemy and then suddenly they became her biggest fan because her charisma was so strong? When you have that star power then, in death…

Lana: She was shedding it.

Ann: Yeah, yeah! You leave, sort of, an avatar.

Okay, so after she escaped Lochleven, she sought refuge at Craignethan Castle near Lanark. I honestly do appreciate after every episode, people from England and/or Scotland correct my pronunciation and thank you. But they also all say, “We agree that the spellings are weird.” So…

Lana: My ancestors are from Lanark!

Ann: Are they?

Lana: Yeah!

Ann: Lanark Wood Johnson. [all laugh]

Lana: No. That is not how that came to be. [laughs]

Ann: Yeah, so her ghost was there as well. Apparently, she stayed there overnight before some battle, the Battle of Langside. I truly don’t remember which one that was but I really did skip over a lot of battles in my retelling. Anyway, apparently, her headless ghost began appearing there after the execution.

Allison: [giggles] That’s a pretty weird place to go back to.

Ann: I feel like maybe her headless ghost was confused because of no head. No head, no head.

Allison: No sense of direction.

Ann: She thought she was going somewhere else, and she wasn’t, over in Lana’s family’s ancestral lands.

This next section of the website says “Mary, Queen of Scots haunts a series of English castles,” [Allison laughs] which she does because she was also there. Apparently, she haunts Carlisle Castle and Bolton Castle where she is said to haunt the courtyard. At Nappa Hall, her ghost is apparently wearing a black velvet dress, which, I mean, that’s how you know it’s her ghost because she wore a lot of black velvet. “In the 1930s, her ghost was reported to have been seen walking through the walls of the Turret House of the Earl’s Manor Lodge in Sheffield.” Sheffield is where she stayed for a long time. That’s where Allison’s book partially takes place, right? Sheffield?

Allison: It is, yes.

Ann: Yeah. okay, so she was executed at Fotheringhay Castle in an indoor execution, which still blows my mind, feels like it would be so messy but whatever. So, Fotheringhay Castle no longer exists. It was in fact demolished after James became king, not because his mother was killed there but because it was just, it fell into such disrepair that it had to be taken down. All the stones were taken to be used in other buildings.

But [chuckles] local legend, perhaps created by a nearby Talbot Hotel [Allison and Lana laugh] is that the staircase– Because the stones and parts of the castle were used to make other buildings. So, the Talbot Hotel claims that the stones from the castle and the staircase, the oak staircase which she walked down to face her execution, were used to build this hotel. And her apparition is said to be a regular guest on these stairs.

Allison: She’s haunting the floorboards? [laughs] Not the land, not the place, not the house, but “That specific fucking piece of wood that I stepped on. I’m going to haunt that wood.”

Lana: Because she moved around a lot, she was very into the hospitality industry and is trying to support stuff, okay? [Allison laughs]

Ann: [laughs] Again, do I want to stay at this hotel? Hell yes. But also, of all of these ghostly apparitions, the one that makes the most sense to me, not that the stairs were moved to a hotel and she and her ghost followed the stairs. But I could see the ghost of a person who is executed just going up those stairs, re-enacting their death, that sounds like a ghost thing, to me, that would happen. But the fact that she followed the stairs [ laughs] over to the hotel is like, “Sure. Sure, Jan.”

Lana: It’s a cute hotel, it’s probably worth staying in.

Ann: Oh, 100%. If and when I’m able to go visit England and Scotland, I want to stay in all of these hotels where Mary’s ghost is.

Allison: Yeah. We’re making fun of this but also completely believe every single one of these stories and would like to stay in all of these places.

Ann: I would like to go to all these places. I love ghosts. I love ghost stories. I love to stay in haunted hotels. Anyway, so those are her ghosts. And then, sorry, that’s not all her ghosts. Linlithgow Palace, this is where she was born. Okay, so [laughs] again, I have to quote this website:

Perhaps surprisingly, there is one historic building in Scotland that is notable by its lack of a ghost of Mary, Queen of Scots. Her birthplace, Linlithgow Palace does have the ghost of her mother Marie de Guise.

Lana: I want to go there.

Ann: Yup, yup. And her grandmother Margaret Tudor, apparently both haunt there. Yeah, that would be a cool ghost to see. And then at Holyrood Palace, which is where Davie Rizzio was murdered so one would understand that maybe his ghost is said to walk its halls. As we mentioned in the episode,

The bloodstain remains on the wooden floor where he was murdered outside Mary’s private quarters. According to Palace staff, these floorboards have been replaced several times, but the bloodstains always reappear in the same place. 

Which is, like, tourism industry, sure.

A ghostly figure has been seen in this area and unexplained noises heard at night. Meanwhile, wailing can sometimes be heard from the basement. This is thought to be the ghost of Agnes Sampson who was brutally tortured under the instruction of James I/VI during the Scottish witch trials.

And that’s a ghost I can believe, that’s a location that makes sense, that ghost would be in a place where something like that happened.

Allison: Classic ghosting right there.

Ann: Yeah. So, these are the ghosts.

And then I’m not going to list everything because there are way too many but for a fraction of the cultural depictions of Mary, Queen of Scots. So, Thomas Edison, piece-of-shit Thomas Edison, which is a topic for another day, was one of the first people who made movies. In 1895 he made a movie called The Execution of Mary Stuart. “This is the first appearance of Mary on film, it depicts her beheading. It’s one of the first films to utilize an intentional jump cut to create the illusion of a single shot.” So, one of the first-ever movies was about her beheading.

In 1936, Katharine Hepburn played Mary in Mary of Scotland. In 1971 Vanessa Redgrave played her in Mary, Queen of Scots. In Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Samantha Morton plays Mary opposite Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth. And then 2018 there’s the Mary Queen of Scots film starring Saoirse Ronan.

There are lots of books. It’s interesting how early these started. So, there’s a book called The Princess of Clèves, which is a novel by Madame de La Fayette, which features– It takes place in France, so Mary is a character in this book as the young wife of the Dauphin. That’s from 1678, so that’s 100-ish years after she died. Sir Walter Scott wrote a book called The Abbot which covers the period of her confinement in Lochleven Castle. Alexandre Dumas père, who wrote a book about every woman in French history, wrote a book called Mary Stuart. I like this one, in 1939, Alison Uttley wrote a children’s book called A Traveller in Time, which is about a young girl who finds herself back in time and in the company of Anthony Babington…

Allison: [giggles] That’s for me! That’s for me aged 10.

Ann: Yeah! So, it’s about a young girl who ends up back in time with Anthony Babington, trying to help him free Mary and overthrow Elizabeth. And the author’s name is even Alison.

Allison: I feel so targeted by that because I read so many middle-grade time travel historical novels in my time.

Ann: Again, I’m just picking and choosing, there are so many. There’s a whole list on Wikipedia. But in 2001, Jane Yolen and Robert J. Harris wrote a children’s novel called Queen’s Own Fool which is a novel about Mary, Queen of Scots and her lady jester, Nicola, which is an interesting angle. She’s also one of The Royal Diaries series. I know there are a lot of listeners who grew up reading The Royal Diaries and that’s where they have their lifelong interest in history so, Mary, Queen of Scots: Queen Without a Country, is a novel about her set in France.

And then Philippa Gregory, Phil Gregs, who never found an erotic fan fiction she didn’t turn into a thousand-page novel, she wrote a book called The Other Queen. We mentioned this during the episode, it’s set during that time when she was staying with Bess and Mr. Bess and then she had to stay in an inn because Elizabeth told her to stay in this castle, but the castle was in disrepair so then Mary stayed in this pub, Triple H was there. Anyway, this book presents the idea that what if Mr. Bess of Hardwick was in love with Mary and she was using him, I guess was part of the plotline of that. Philippa Gregory is going to do her thing and power to her.

The first biography of her, I guess, major biography of her is from 1936 by Stefan Zweig. Antonia Fraser wrote a biography of her in 1969, this is the one that Lana knows best.

Lana: I own.

Ann: You’ve read countless times. I do want to mention, I forget if I said this on the podcast, but Antonia Fraser is an extremely prolific biographer from England; she’s written so many biographies of so many people. Her daughter is Flora Fraser, who I interviewed about the biography of Flora MacDonald. Flora Fraser also writes lots of biographies of people and I appreciate this mother-daughter biography-writing pair because they write a lot of things about people who I want to read about. Numerous things. So, John Guy wrote a biography, Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart, which has been a big source I’ve been using for this podcast.

This is not a book but it’s interesting, so Kevyn Aucoin was a very influential makeup artist in the 1990s. He had a book, it’s a big art book, I actually have a copy of it, where he took celebrities of the era and did up their makeup to make them look like people from previous eras. All of which to say, he did a photoshoot with Tori Amos done up as Mary, Queen of Scots which is pretty iconic to me.

Poetry. The Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote a poem, “Lament of Mary, Queen of Scots, On The Approach of Spring” which kind of speaks to how Scotland remembers her versus how England remembers her. It’s about her feelings about Elizabeth and it takes place, this poem, while she’s captive in England. Shortly after her execution, the English Jesuit poet, which is interesting – in the last episode we had the undercover Jesuits, now we have the Jesuit poet – Robert Southwell composed a poem portraying Mary as a Catholic martyr. The poem was never published in that time.

Allison: Because he was a big ass traitor but, like, separate story with him.

Ann: Yeah, even owning a copy of this poem was basically treason so no one read it at the time. Because remember, it was treason to even think that Elizabeth might die one day, let alone to treat Mary as any sort of martyr.

Okay, Mary, Queen of Scots was a common topic of opera in the 19th century. Usually, these operas dealt with “a period of her life when she was being persecuted by Elizabeth of England because these operas were Italian and she was a sympathetic character in Catholic countries,” which is interesting, how she’s seen in England versus how she’s seen in other places. “Her story proved popular among liberals and revolutionaries in 19th-century Italy. They are especially attracted by the various plots made to save her,” of course, because that’s a great story, “as well as her death as a political martyr because they saw similarities in that to what they were dealing with.” So, there’s a group called the Carbonari…

Allison: No relation to the pasta, I am assuming. [Lana giggles]

Ann: I have to assume. Yes, “The Carbonari were a group of revolutionaries in Italy, and they took their name from a mythical ring of English coal burners, supposedly dedicated to Mary’s cause,” that’s just an interesting sentence.

Allison: Listeners can’t see the same face that we’re all making which is just the, “Huh.”

Ann: Anyway, for this reason, “The subject of Mary Stuart came to be seen as a concern of radicals and operas about her were banned on several occasions,” because in Italy, in the 19th century, they were all using her as an allegory for their own political struggle.

Television! So, we briefly actually– No, I should say, since we’ve last recorded an episode… So, I have the Patreon – which you can join, – and one of the things we’ve recently added is for anybody who is at the $5/month or above level, we have a Discord, which is like a big group chat for people, for the tits out brigade, to talk to each other.

One topic that just came up recently, somebody asked, “Has anybody seen this, Gunpowder, Treason & Plot,” which is a 2004 two-part mini-series. Part one is about Darnley’s explosion and part two is about the gunpowder plot, which is the Guy Fawkes thing to do with James. And somebody said, “Has anyone seen this?” And I was like, “No.” But I do spend a lot of time looking up, for Instagram, pictures of people who have played Mary and other people, so I’ve read about this series, which is very much like, “Mary falls in love with Bothwell.” I think it alleges that she was in love with Bothwell before she even married Darnley and that they conspired together to blow up Darnley so they could be together. Mary, Queen of Scots, though, is played by the French actress, Clémence Poésy, who played Fleur Delacour in the Harry Potter movies and she’s very pretty, I like her. Interesting to have a French actress. Anyway, I can’t, I forget what Lana said. I think you said something like “Throw it in the sea. Cast it in the fire,” or something. This whole concept is…

Lana: I’m against anything that has Mary with a romantic interest in anybody. [giggles] I just don’t believe it, I don’t buy it.

Ann: I especially don’t buy that she was in love with Bothwell.

Lana: Absolutely. No, that man took advantage. But that’s for later. [laughs]

Ann: Yeah. There was a television show you might have heard of called Reign, 2013 to 2017.

Allison: It’s never been mentioned on this podcast before.

Ann: Yeah, yeah. It’s described here as “A highly fictionalized period drama show on the CW television network.”

Lana: Highly fictionalized.

Ann: And it is, and it is. It doesn’t pretend not to be, and I respect that. There are some people who messaged me, they were like, “You know Ann, you got me to decide that maybe I am going to watch Reign.” And I’m like, “You can…”

Allison: However, be aware…

Ann: Just know what it is. People who… It’s not for everybody. It’s for me.

Allison: It features the hot bastard brother who goes off into the woods and discovers black magic and then he starts hexing people. That’s the kind of dramatization we’re getting.

Ann: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, you need to be okay with that. There’s also, just recently discovered, by me, there was a Spanish and British mini-series. In Spanish, it’s called Reinas, which means “Queens”. In English, the translation is Queens: The Virgin and the Martyr. It’s from 2017 and it looks super sexy, and I do feel like I might want to watch at least part of it. It’s on Tubi, the streaming service, apparently. Anyway, Reinas, The Virgin and the Martyr. It does seem to involve numerous confrontations between Mary and Elizabeth which, the Vanessa Redgrave movie has them meeting as well. I understand why if you’re making a movie of this, you kind of want your two main characters to meet each other.

Allison: The impulse is understandable.

Ann: Yeah. In the Saoirse Ronan Mary movie, which again, I haven’t seen in a long time and which the three of us will probably, at some point, watch and discuss for Vulgarpiece Theatre, perhaps on a live event, who knows. But as I recall, there’s a scene at the end of it where Mary and Elizabeth are in some sort of room where there’s all kinds of white gauzy curtains…

Allison: Surrounded by laundry, as I recall.

Ann: So, they never actually see each other’s faces but they’re talking and there’s just these white sheets between them all the time. I understand, narratively, that you want those two people to meet each other. And I respect historical fiction and people who change things. You know what? I need to go back in and edit this Wikipedia page because when it says fiction books it doesn’t mention A Tip for the Hangman by Allison Epstein, in which Mary, Queen of Scots appears. I’ll add that later. By the time you hear this episode, hopefully, that will be there.

Oh yeah, so there’s this Starz television series from last year, The Serpent Queen which is about Catherine de’ Medici which numerous people have mentioned to me, I have not watched it. Mary, Queen of Scots appears in it, but apparently, she’s some sort of fanatic religious zealot, it seems like they confused her with Mary I.

Lana: Or she’s just being very de Guise, like, super de Guise.

Ann: A number of people have asked me, “Have you watched The Serpent Queen? What do you think of her portrayal?” And I hadn’t. And then somebody explained to me what the portrayal was, and I was like, “Oh, that’s a take. That’s a real take.”

And then I think most importantly, on the 13th season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, contestant Rosé impersonated Mary, Queen of Scots for the Snatch Game episode where she received high praise for her impersonation and improvisational comedy. And I believe there is also Mary, Queen of Scots drag queen on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, Clare Hunter talks about that in her book. So, I like reclaiming her story in that way because of the wigs and the outfits.

Allison: If the drag name isn’t Mary Queen of Thoughts, what are we doing? What are we doing, guys?

Ann: [laughs] It’s brilliant. So, that’s what I have for all the legacy. I love that angle. So, we’re going to get to the Scandilicious Scale, eventually.

Allison: I would like to briefly observe that Ann told us as we began to record, “This will be a quick 45-minute episode, don’t worry about it.”

Lana: [giggles] Ann’s feelings on Mary are, “This is going to be fast!” No.

Ann: No. We are an hour in, and we are going to get to the scoring which will probably be time-consuming, but there are a couple of games I want to play.

Allison: I’m so excited for this.

Ann: Okay. So, the first one, it’s a similar game to Fuck, Marry, Kill but it’s not that. It is Command, Co-work, Kill. So, I’m going to list three people and both of you need to choose who would you like to command, who would you want to be the manager or the boss of this person? Who would you like to co-work with, have them as your co-worker? And who would you like to kill, of these three options? Okay? I can go over those options again. Who do you want to command, to be, you’re in charge and they–

Lana: You are the boss of? Or they are the boss of you?

Ann: You are the boss.

Lana: Okay.

Ann: So, the first options are all people called James. So, the options are Mary’s brother, James Stuart, Hollywood icon Jimmy Stewart, James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, and then the adult James I/VI, Mary’s son.

Allison: This is so hard! [laughs]

Lana: Okay, say it again.

Ann: The options or the people?

Lana: Yeah, give me the people one more time.

Ann: The people are Mary’s brother, James, Bothwell, and Mary’s son, James.

Allison: Okay, so I’m going to come in hot and say the only correct first choice is to kill Bothwell.

Lana: Obviously.

Allison: I can’t not do that.

Lana: That’s obvious.

Allison: I want to command James VI because I feel like he is dumb enough and impulsive enough and has enough power that if I could actually be in charge of him, history would be a lot better and I would be like, “No, you dumb bitch, don’t do that,” and I could direct him toward a more positive outcome. I feel like he’s persuadable. And so, that makes me working alongside Hollywood icon Jimmy Stewart, which is annoying.

Ann: Yeah, because he’s going to backstab you.

Allison: Yeah. I mean he is but he’s not going to be there when it happens [Ann laughs] and so if I have James VI on my side as like a bodyguard, I feel like Jimmy Stewart can’t do as much because I’ve got a full army. So, that’s my answer.

Ann: Okay.

Lana: I have the same, everything of mine is the same except my reasons for being in charge of James VI is that I would make him not do the Bible, [she and Allison laugh] and make him not do the Scottish witch trials, and tell him that he needs to deprioritize this whole satanism thing because then my life would have been personally better with all of those three things.

Ann: Yeah, fair. Good choices, good choices. So, the same options, Command, Co-work, Kill and your options are all members of the Douglas family.

Allison: A Douglas!

Ann: So, the options are Margaret Douglas, Darnley’s mother, scheming grandma; James Douglas the Earl of Morton, who we’ve been calling on this podcast, Jeremy Jam from Parks and Recreation. [Allison groans with disapproval] He was the one, he was always against Mary, he was working with Cecil, he was one of Cecil’s puppets to try and bring her down in Scotland. I’m just thinking, for Lana, what are the gross things he did? He was just a shitty person.

Allison: Every single thing he did was like, “Ah, fuck you.”

Ann: I’m pretty sure he was involved in the Rizzio murder; he was involved in the Darnley murder. And then the third Douglas is WD-40 AKA William Douglas, who is the overseer of Lochleven Castle. You might know as much about each of them, so this is just a real gut instinct. Like, Margaret Douglas, would you want to kill, co-work, or command?

Allison: See, I’m a little mad this isn’t Fuck, Marry, Kill because I want to marry Margaret Douglas. I feel like that’s the kind of partnership I want in my life, which I guess means co-work in this situation.

Lana: Yeah. I agree that Margaret is absolutely the co-worker. It would be a dangerous partnership there.

Ann: Yeah, and I think commanding Margaret, she would not listen to you.

Lana: Oh god, no.

Allison: Elizabeth tried that shit [she and Lana laugh] and it did not work.

Lana: It would be a pain in the ass. It sounds like James is a really good employee and I’m as effective of a leader as Cecil would be so I think I could manage bossing him around.

Ann: And that means that we’re killing William Douglas.

Allison: Ann knows I have a soft spot in my heart for William Douglas so I’m going to command him and tell him to do better things because I feel like he would have been a better person if they gave him a chance. And I’m going to kill Councilman Jam because fuck him. But I admire Lana’s, I-could-fix-him energy.

Lana: Not fix him, take full advantage of him. Remember. [laughs]

Allison: Ahh, I can manipulate him, okay.

Ann: Yeah, yeah.

Allison: I’m also obsessed with the sentence, “I’m at least as good a leader as William Cecil is.” That’s the energy I want on this podcast at all times. Don’t undersell yourself, friends, you’re as good a leader as William Cecil.

Lana: [laughs] At least as good a leader as William Cecil, come on. Anybody can be. [laughs]

Ann: Okay, so just one more round of this. So, Command, Co-work, Kill and your options are the power trio: William Cecil, Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth I.

Allison: Hmm. Hmm. No. Hmm.

Lana: [laughs] Okay. So… Lord.

Allison: I want to command Walsingham; I want him to be my right-hand man because I would be unstoppable. I feel like the rest of the questions are irrelevant because I want him on my side.

Ann: Mm-hm… Who would you kill?

Lana: See, I think I’d kill Walsingham because then he…

Allison: Say more.

Lana: I think as an underling, he’d go around you all the time and undermine you, I don’t think he would listen.

Allison: But in your best interest, I feel like he would do the things I didn’t even know I needed.

Lana: Personally, I think he’d just undermine me constantly and–

Allison: I acknowledge I’m extraordinarily biased on this one.

Ann: You’re Walsingham’s fangirl.

Lana: You don’t want to kill him.

Allison: I’m a Walsing-fan, I’m aware of that. [giggles]

Lana: I am too, which is why I respect him enough to get rid of him. I have to eliminate him as competition.

Allison: I think I would kill Cecil for the same reason that Lana would kill Walsingham; I feel like I can’t trust him.

Ann: Mm-hm. So, then I think you’re both coworking with Elizabeth.

Lana: Yeah, I would command Cecil because there’s no way I’m commanding Elizabeth, there’s no point in that.

Allison: There’s no commanding Elizabeth and I don’t want to kill her.

Lana: I think Cecil is not quite bright enough to undermine me which means that I’d just have to micromanage him but that’s okay, I’ve done that before. [laughs]

Allison: And you’re at least as good a leader as he is.

Lana: Right. I’m at least as good a leader as him, which is like, low bar. [laughs] But yeah, you go in knowing he’s going to be slimy and get out of all the things he can possibly get out of, that’s easy to deal with. So, Elizabeth is just, like, you don’t tell her what to do, you just have to work around her limitations, which is what everybody figured out how to do, to do England the way they did. Elizabeth is just going to do Elizabeth and then you work around her and make it seem like her idea and everything will be okay.

Ann: And I’ve certainly had coworkers like that where you’re just like, you know what? I’m not going to change this person, I’m not going to tell them what to do. That’s what they’re doing and I’m just going to be like, how can I work around that?

Ann: Okay. So next, I’ve got a couple, not rapid fire but I’m going to give you some options and you can choose which is the best. So, this category is the Most Daring Escape by Mary. There are three options.

As previously mentioned, when she was at Borthwick Castle, dressed as a boy, she was lowered on bed sheets tied together as a rope, directly onto a horse, several storeys down and then rode off, option one. Option two is after Davie Rizzio was murdered, manipulating Darnley to switch sides and then escaping with him with the help of Cock o’ the North’s widow, who smuggled notes in the chamber pot. And then the third option is the escape from Lochleven with the help of Yung Willy. Mary Seaton switched clothes, Yung Willy got everybody drunk and Mary walked right out the front door.

Lana: I have a soft spot in my heart for the Lochleven escape.

Allison: Me too, that’s number one.

Lana: They are all really good. I just have this soft spot in my heart for Lochleven, it was ridiculous. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I really love wearing the pants and being lowered onto a horse but that’s early Mary not quite figuring out all of her tools. And anything that makes Darnley figure out he’s on the right side is obviously disqualified. [giggles]

Ann: Yeah, I agree. The Lochleven escape was cinematic, it was so extra. It was like, “Okay, I’m going to lose this earring and when I pretend to find the earring, that’s your signal to go over here…” it’s like, “We’re going to do it on May Day because that’s when there’s the Abbot of Unreason and then we’re going to get this guy drunk and then…”

Allison: I think I said this during the episode, but it is the last 15 minutes of a Knives Out movie and I just love it so much. So extra, so good. It’s got Yung Willy in it.

Lana: It needs to be in more movies.

Ann: Yes! It needs to be in a movie.

Lana: It is so good.

Ann: It’s so good. It should 100% be a movie. But also, Allison there’s a book that you’ve read that…

Allison: Yes, and it’s stunningly good. It’s The Tower by Flora Carr, it’s coming out in the US early next year, in the UK before that. It is a gorgeous, gorgeous book entirely about Mary’s year in Lochleven. Read it. I was not asked to blurb this book, I emailed the editor directly and said, “Please send this to me, I would like to read it,” and it’s really, really good.

Ann: Here’s what we want: that book to come out optioned, movie deal, Keira Knightley, let’s just do it.

Allison: Let’s do it. I like how you just said Keira Knightley, like, I don’t even know what role she’s going to be in this movie but I’m like, “Yeah, okay.”

Ann: Well, I think if you do a period drama and Keira Knightley is involved then you’re green-lit and that movie is going to happen so…

Allison: That’s probably true.

Ann: Yeah. Okay. So, this is a category I call the Most Outfittiest Outfit that Mary wore. [Lana giggles] What is the most outfittiest outfit? These are not chronological, it’s just as I thought of them.

The first is when she was executed, the outfit reveal; the black cloak ripped off to reveal the red inside dress with the sleeves, accessorized by crucifixes and various other Catholic paraphernalia. Another option is just any time she wore pants, just pants, because she did.

And then earlier in her story, there’s the point where the King of France died and Catherine de’ Medici and all the princesses were all wearing black because that was the mourning colour and Mary showed up wearing white, so she’s described as looking like, “A dove among ravens.” So, her white mourning outfit, which was quite a statement. Her white wedding dress, which was not typical, but this is the thing, she knew that white looked good on her, so she just wore white as much as possible.

And then also, this is kind of a group aesthetic, it was when she and the Four Marys arrived in Scotland and they were all wearing black and white and just looked chic as fuck and all the people in Scotland were like, “What is this? Who are they?”

Allison: I’m going to go for an unconventional choice and say the group outfit. I mean, you know I love a dramatic dress sequence quick change, that’s the one everybody knows but I love that she’s just like, “No, no, no, I’m making an entrance into this entire country. Marys, assemble. Get into uniform. Let’s go.” It’s so badass and I just love the energy that she has to bring everybody else, also named Mary, also wearing all the same– It’s just pop star energy and I’m obsessed with it.

Lana: I have to go with style icon, Mary, Queen of Scots, originator of the white wedding dress. Against all rules, she wore a white wedding dress. Everybody else wears a white wedding dress because Victoria wore one, but Mary wore one because it looked good on her, and she knew it.

Ann: And she knew it was going to be an outside wedding under that tent so there were jewels worked into it so she would just glitter like the sun.

Lana: She knew her angles.

Ann: She knew what was happening. Yeah, it’s true.

And then the final category for you to vote on is the Best Disguise worn by Mary or otherwise. So, the options are, when she left Scotland to go to England, shaved her head and disguised herself as a boy. The second one is when she disguised herself as a washerwoman to escape Lochleven. Another option, the third option is Mary Seaton disguising herself as Mary, Queen of Scots to help her escape. Those are the three options.

Allison: I vote for shaved head. That’s so badass.

Ann: She went for it!

Lana: Got a soft spot for the shaved head. She knew it was her finest feature and she got rid of it in a heartbeat.

Allison: Her one beauty. [laughs]

Lana: Her one beauty. And she had, it wasn’t even a thing she had to think about. It was, “I’m going to live and I’m going to make them all regret this and the only way that’s going to happen is to get rid of this hair. So, let’s do it.”

Allison: She didn’t try to Gwyneth Paltrow it in Shakespeare in Love by just wrapping her hair into a very large hat. She’s like, “No, no, no, no, no. I commit.”

Lana: A very small hat.

Allison: A very small, impractical hat. [Allison and Lana laugh]

Ann: No, it’s true. She’s just like, “I’m six feet tall, that’s distinctive. I have this red crimped hair, distinctive. I need to blend in somehow.” Yeah.

Lana: But six feet with no hair, she looks like a… People wouldn’t think twice that she was a boy, and she knew it. It was amazing.

Ann: Okay. And then the next thing we’re going to do is… There are so many, well okay, there are four main– Uhh, three. Uhh… If there’s another one that comes up, you can tell me. There are several shitty villains in this story.

Lana: So many. [laughs]

Ann: There are so many.

Lana: There are incalculable villains in this story. [laughs]

Allison: We have to prioritize here.

Lana: We’re going to pick three. [laughs]

Ann: Yeah. So, what I have is I made a scheme, so the Villainocity Scale, so we can rank them as villains. The four categories, I’ll go through them again, so you don’t have to remember them. The four categories are: Thinks He’s Smarter Than He Is, that’s a score of 0 to 10, Two-Faced, again 0 to 10, A Man with a Plan, that is kind of like the scheminess rating, it’s someone who schemes and has a plan and does the plans. And then the fourth category is just Bad Vibes. Just bad vibes in a bad way. I put in my notes, “Like Colin Firth in Shakespeare in Love.” [Allison laughs] Just, like, a person who you’re like, “Eughhh.”

Allison: Not this guy.

Lana: We time travel too. [laughs]

Ann: So, the first person we’re going to talk about is Bothwell. So, the first category is Thinks He’s Smarter Than He Is, 0 to 10, Bothwell.

Lana: 9.5.

Allison: I was going to say, he’s not the first person who comes to mind with that description but it’s not not true.

Lana: [laughs] He got lucky. He just got lucky.

Allison: Because he got so unlucky afterward and spent the rest of his life in Denmark in a dungeon, I just feel like he didn’t think that through.

Ann: No, and he was escaping by stealing a ship that turned out to have been stolen by somebody else and then he was accused of being a pirate. But did he think he was smarter than he was?

Lana: He was because–

Allison: I get the impression he had a pretty healthy self-image, Bothwell.

Ann: Yeah.

Lana: With Mary, she was in a health crisis, he wasn’t like some master manipulator. He was like, she was just incapable of handling him at that moment in her life. He wasn’t genius… [mutters] Feelings, feelings! [laughs]

Ann: So, Lana you said instinctively 9.5, Allison, you said 6. So, what if we go to like…

Allison: Did you say 9?

Ann: Lana said 9.5.

Allison: Oh, that’s a high.

Lana: I have feelings!

Allison: I bump up to a 7, in that case.

Ann: How about we do 7.5?

Allison: Okay. I just think we had to think about who else might be coming…

Lana: They can all be 10s! [laughs]

Ann: [laughs] That’s allowed.

Allison: 40s across the board.

Ann: Okay, so the next thing is Two-Faced. Bothwell: pretends he’s nice but is actually terrible.

Allison: Did he ever pretend he was nice?

Lana: I don’t think he pretended he was nice.

Ann: No

Allison: For like 5 minutes, when he was younger.

Lana: Like a 3. [laughs] I don’t think he tried.

Allison: At most. He barely tried.

Ann: Okay, the next one is Man with a Plan; was he schemey? Did he have plans? Did he execute those plans? He was schemey.

Allison: I have to give him props for blowing up Darnley and then becoming the sheriff. [laughs]

Lana: [laughs] It’s very big Yellowstone energy.

Ann: No, that’s true. I forgot about that detail. He was one of the people behind the plan– It was his guy, French Paris worked for him, rolling the barrels of gunpowder down the street in front of everybody.

Allison: They weren’t good plans, but you didn’t specify were they good plans?

Lana: [laughs] He had many plans. Many, many plans.

Ann: He got the people to sign the document being like, “We all agree that you should marry Mary.” He certainly had plans.

Allison: He did, he did.

Ann: So, I don’t know how you want to score that. He had plans, but they weren’t good. He had a plan to kidnap Mary, marry her, and he did.

Allison: He did.

Lana: Yeah.

Ann: It wasn’t a good plan.

Lana: He had many, many plans.

Allison: I think 8? Because we’re knocking off two points for the quality of the plans but the sheer quantity of them, I think…

Ann: Yeah. There are a lot of plans.

Lana: I’m on board with that. An 8 is a solid number.

Allison: Okay. And this next category is extremely easy.

Ann: Bad Vibes.

Allison: 10.

Lana: 30. [laughs] 300.

Allison: The vibes are bad, friends.

Lana: The vibes are baaad.

Ann: Okay. So, he’s coming in hot with a 28.5. Next is Darnley.

Allison: All right! We’re going to max out our categories in a couple of things. [Lana laughs]

Ann: Okay, Darnley. Thinks He’s Smarter Than He Is.

Allison: That’s why I was holding back Lana because this one is the 10.

Lana: Look, I gave him an extra half point. He had one more half point than Bothwell.

Ann: Darnley was writing letters to Catherine de’ Medici, to the Pope. [all laugh] He thought he was so hot shit. He thought–

Lana: I’m just imagining Catherine de’ Medici and Darnley in the same room.

Allison: Oh my god, I think about it all the time.

Lana: [laughs] That would just be so embarrassing for him.

Allison: But he wouldn’t know! He’d think he was doing a great job.

Lana: It would be like an episode of The Office. The cringe would be so high.

Ann: He was writing letters to Catherine de’ Medici, signed King Henry of Scotland being like, “Hey, can you send an army to help me take over to get the Crown Matrimonial?” He was unhinged. His self-confidence was so unwarranted. That’s a definite 10. [Lana laughs] Was he two-faced?

Lana: I mean, he wanted to be.

Allison: I don’t think he was smart enough to be two-faced.

Lana: [laughing] He was sure he was two-faced.

Ann: He thought he was tricking everyone.

Allison: He was just not scheming. He was just like, not– 2?

Lana: Yeah. [laughs] Go with that.

Ann: Because he showed up and he was hot and tall and people were like, “Oh, that’s great, he’s hot and tall.” But then very quickly it’s like, “Oh no, this is the worst person we’ve ever met.”

Allison: But he was still hot and tall, that wasn’t all deception. He was just a hot, tall dummy.

Ann: That’s true.

Lana: He was a fuckboy. [laughs]

Ann: Do we want to give him as much as 2 for two-faced? He thought he was.

Lana: He thought he was. He was trying so hard, the poor boy. [laughs]

Allison: I think we have to give him a couple of points for his goddamn effort to get the Crown Matrimonial. That was two-faced, but it wasn’t two good faces, it wasn’t successful.

Lana: I mean, he wasn’t always two-faced to Mary, sometimes he was just two-faced to somebody else.

Ann: I forget, I think I shared with you this comment that somebody sent me. In the episode where Allison and I were talking about Darnley and everything, we were saying he really wanted Mary to have sex with him and he also really wanted to get the Crown Matrimonial. And somebody was like, for most of the episode they thought that when we said he wanted the Crown Matrimonial, they thought that meant sleep with Mary. [laughs]

Allison: I laughed for like 5 minutes. Thank you, commenter.

Lana: That was amazing, I loved it so much.

Ann: “You want to go up the secret sex stairs and give me the Crown Matrimonial?” [all laugh]

Lana: And who is to say he didn’t? [laughs]

Allison: He might have meant it.

Ann: He might have thought it was the same thing.

Lana: He could have been absolutely convinced it was the same thing.

Ann: And that’s why he wanted to sleep with her so much. He thought that that would somehow mean something. Okay. So, Man with a Plan. Did Darnley have, well, he had plans.

Lana: He had thoughts in his head.

Allison: I don’t know if I give him credit for calling them plans. I think he had goals.

Lana: Plans have steps that are executable, they’re not like scribbled drawings with Crayon on whatever piece of paper you have nearby.

Allison: Although that can work for evidence at this time, as we all saw. [ Lana laughs] Do you think we should give him a 1 just out of pity?

Ann: Okay.

Lana: He had a plan; he had no steps to the plan.

Allison: No, there was a sketchy plan at best.

Ann: I think his plan was to sit back and wait for life to turn out well for him without him having to do anything.

Lana: “If I’m pretty enough and I’m good enough at things then I get good stuff.”

Allison: Okay, but he wasn’t good enough at the things.

Lana: “But I could be.”

Ann: He thought he was. Okay, and then Bad Vibes.

Lana: I mean, he’s red flags.

Allison: I’m going to say 9 and the reason is because there was one moment in the story where we were like, “Look at this hot, young dummy.” And I have no problem with a hot, young dummy. I don’t think his vibes are as bad as Bothwell’s vibes. I think he’s just… You know, bless his heart, in a way. So, that’s why I would knock one off.

Ann: I would knock one off as well.

Lana: He’s absolutely red flags but he’s not bad vibes in the way Bothwell is bad vibes. He’s that boyfriend you have in college that you know you shouldn’t date but you do anyway. And then it goes terribly wrong and you’re like, “Yup, yup. That’s exactly what happened there. I did that.” [giggles]

Ann: But he was hot and tall, so yeah. That’s how you get caught in it. Okay.

Lana: That’s how they get ya!

Ann: The next candidate is Mary’s brother, James Stewart, Hollywood icon Jimmy Stewart. I know where he’s going to score high. But the first category is Thinks He’s Smarter Than He Is.

Allison: I mean he did get assassinated, like, six months into his regency, right?

Ann: Yeah. But he was–

Allison: He obviously was not great at it.

Lana: But he was pretty effective.

Ann: Yeah, his vibe was not thinks he’s smarter than he is. He actually was successful in a lot of things. So, he maybe was as smart as he thought he was.

Lana: And I think he was killed because he was successful. I think he actually was smart. Julius Caesar was also killed by his friends because he was anti-landlord, and they were landlords. That’s not a smart thing, that’s just an overestimated thing. So, I’d say like, a 2. I think he actually was– I think there were some times where he screwed up but for the most part, he actually was pretty effective.

Ann: Yeah. And he ended up being assassinated by that family who, as somebody in the Discord says, whenever they think about the Hamilton family, they call them the Babysitters Club because [Allison laughs] their family’s whole deal is like “When there’s a baby King of Scotland, we’re the regents!” And they were so mad that James became the regent that they were like, “No.”

Lana: “This is our job.”

Ann: “We are the babysitters club!” That’s why he was assassinated, which is not to do with him being smart or not, it’s just with them being an unhinged babysitter’s club.

Allison: Wait, what was Darnley’s total? You didn’t do the math for me.

Ann: Darnley’s total was 22. So, Bothwell has outpaced Darnley. We started off high. So, what do we think for Think He’s Smarter– I think just like, I don’t know, 2 or something. I don’t think that’s really his vibe. But the next category is Two-Faced.

Allison: 10!

Ann: And that’s a 10.

Allison: Lying son of a fucking bitch.

Lana: Again, in the high 50s. [laughs]

Ann: Could not be more… How many times did he go to civil war, that he led against Mary and then is like, “I’m your brother, doo-doo-doo…” and then, “Ahh, I’m at war against you again!” And then, “Oh, but we’re siblings.” Like, constantly. And Mary kept falling for it because what other choice did she have? Man With a Plan.

Allison: There were a lot of plans.

Lana: So many plans. And with steps, and he executed on several, most of them. He was very good.

Allison: He was the best planner of the three.

Ann: Yeah. He’s definitely a man with a plan. I would knock one point off because some of the plans, Cecil put in his head.

Lana: They weren’t necessarily his plans.

Allison: Yeah. Man with Cecil’s Plan.

Ann: Yeah, so I would say like an 8 or a 9, what do you think?

Allison: Yeah. I’d go with a 9.

Lana: 8.5? I’m also at 9.

Ann: Let’s say 9.

Lana: Let’s go 9.

Ann: And then Bad Vibes. I think he doesn’t have as much bad vibes because Mary kept trusting him.

Lana: I also think 90% of his problem was the patriarchy because she was a girl and he was a boy, it wasn’t necessarily that he was this malicious, terrible human being like Bothwell or the pretty himbo with all the bad ideas like Darnley. He was just like, “Well, but I’m a boy.” He had very big Kendall Roy energy. [laughs]

Ann: If he had been legitimate, he would have been the King. At one point, he tried to get himself named legitimate, he tried to dissolve his mother’s marriage to say that when she had him with the king– So, the patriarchy in that way as well, legitimate versus illegitimate thing, that primogenitor thing got in his way as well. So, I don’t think he’s necessarily bad vibes.

Allison: I mean, how would you describe his vibes then?

Lana: Asshole. [giggles]

Ann: Yeah.

Lana: He was an asshole, don’t get me wrong. But he wasn’t, “I’m going to kidnap you while you’re at your weakest and try and make you sleep with me.” He was, “But I’m a boy. You don’t understand, I’m a boy.”

Ann: That’s bad vibes in like, an incel way, not a mass murderer way. They’re not good vibes but they’re not… I don’t know.

Lana: That’s why I’m at a 5.

Ann: I think 6.

Lana: I will go with a 6.

Ann: 6 is fair.

Lana: I’m not saying the patriarchy is good. [laughs]

Allison: No.

Ann: That gets him up to 27. So, the reason why Darnley is lagging behind is the lack of plans. [laughs]

Allison: He’s too dumb to be a villain! [Lana laughs]

Ann: Yeah, yeah. This is why I wanted to score this. I’m like, who was the most villainous villain? Every week after the episodes I had Instagram polls and it was interesting to watch people’s thoughts change because initially, this is what we’re getting to, John Knox is our next candidate. Initially, everyone’s like, “Fuck you, John Knox,” but then eventually people start being like, “Hollywood icon Jimmy Stewart” and then they’re like, “We hate you, Darnley,” and then it’s like, “We hate you, Bothwell.” And then it’s like, “William Cecil!” People kept, as the story went it’s like, who is the villain of the week? And it would change.

Lana: It is a villain of the week.

Ann: There was a consistent voting block that would always vote for John Knox even in episodes he wasn’t in because… [laughs]

Lana: Patriarchy! He is bad vibes patriarchy.

Ann: Yes. Yes.

Allison: You’re right, different vibes.

Ann: Okay, but that’s who we have next is John Knox. so, Thinks He’s Smarter Than He Is.

Lana: I think he actually was pretty smart.

Ann: I think he was, yeah. That’s not his vibe.

Allison: I think he thought he was more holy than he was.

Lana: Or more accurate than he was.

Ann: So, this would be low. Like a 1? 3?

Lana: Yeah. Let’s go 2 because he thought he was smarter than God.

Ann: That’s true. Actually, yeah. Yeah. The next one is Two-Faced and I’m going to be bold and say 0 because John Knox–

Allison: He was who he was every single fucking step of the way.

Lana: He showed up every day John Knox.

Ann: There was never any…

Lana: There was a lot of it too. [laughs]

Ann: I’m going to say almost to his credit. Darnley, Hollywood icon Jimmy Stewart, Bothwell, each had moments where Mary was like, “Maybe I can trust this person.” John Knox was just like, “Fuck you. You’re a woman. You’re a Catholic. You’re French. I hate you.” That’s how he greeted her, and he never wavered. She always knew where she stood with him, which is in a way, helpful.

Lana: It’s refreshing really, with this story.

Ann: Yeah. A Man with A Plan. His plan was the Scottish Reformation and…

Allison: He did it.

Ann: He did it through force of will through his own innate charisma.

Lana: And unfortunately for him, the Scottish Presbyterian Church that resulted from his reformation is one of the most open and anti-patriarchy, pro-LGBTQ sects that exist. So, thanks for that. [laughs]

Ann: The vibe is real, “Where is Your God Now John Knox?” in the churches that he founded, which is delightful.

Yeah, when there was the Pride Parade here where I live in Saskatoon, the pride marshalled just before, we have Knox United Church in the city. And the Knox United Church, they opened the doors, you could use their bathroom, the front lawn, they had a viewing party. I was just like, “Oh man, where is your god now John Knox?” [Lana laughs]

Allison: Incredible.

Ann: People were walking past. It was beautiful, it was a lovely parade, and this group was passing by with signs that said, “Abortion is Healthcare” right past the Knox United Church. I was just like, “Yes! Yes!” [laughs]

Lana: And people were on the lawn cheering.

Ann: Yeah, it was lovely. So, Man With A Plan. He did have a plan for the Scottish Reformation and in order to make that happen, he needed to destabilize Mary’s reign and he did. I don’t know, like, 7? 8? More? Less?

Lana: I agree with an 8. It wasn’t really, Mary was incidental. He wasn’t working against Mary, he was working against the de Guises basically, how Catholic she was. If she had been less Catholic, she would have just been, like, she still would have been a woman and he still would have been the worst human being but, like… [laughs]

Allison: He would have just pointed to her in the street and been like, “A whooore!” He wouldn’t have needed to–

Lana: Oh whore.

Ann: Whooore. Okay, and then Bad Vibes. John Knox, Bad Vibes.

Allison: Bad Vibes are a 10, right?

Lana: 10. Oh yeah. He’s patriarchy 10.

Ann: Even the statues of John Knox are all him, like, pointing and yelling as though he’s going, “Whooooore.”

Lana: So judgemental.

Ann: And so, actually, he gets a 20. So, the rankings are, from top to bottom: Bothwell, 28.5, Jimmy Stewart, 27. So, close. They’re also the people who were actively working against– No, I was going to say for the longest time, but they weren’t. Jimmy Stewart was in almost every episode; he was in every episode. Bothwell just showed up, was terrible, and then left.

Allison: But he was so terrible so loudly that yeah, he was the worst. I stand by that.

Ann: I love hearing from listeners who weren’t as familiar with this story who were just like– You know, you see Darnley and you’re just like, “Wow. That was a shitty person.” And then Bothwell comes in and it’s like, how is Bothwell more shitty in a shorter period of time? How could you be like, “Darnley, that’s clearly her worst husband. Oh, wait! How about this guy she was married to for one month?”

Lana: And now you know this and now you’re going to watch every single Mary, Queen of Scots thing and go, why the hell are they making them romantic interests with each other? Why? What narrative choice was made there?

Ann: And the narrative choice that’s being made there too is what was being seeded at the time by the people making the pamphlets before Mary even ran off with Bothwell. The mermaid poster and stuff.

Allison: The tits out mermaid!

Ann: The tits out mermaid. Because she relied on him as a councillor, they were just like, “Oh she…” This narrative was being built that she was this unstable, flighty, horny dumb-dumb during her life.

Lana: It’s his victim blaming. Literally, everything that comes out afterwards is Bothwell’s victim blaming of, “Oh, she wanted it, she loved me, this was what was supposed to be.” And she was absolutely taken advantage of, assaulted, and at her lowest and at her weakest. And the story remains that he planted and that’s just, it’s an atrocity. It’s a patriarchal awfulness.

Ann: It’s interesting, I mean, it sucks obviously. I’m just using the word interesting to be sort of even-handed about it. But when George Buchanan wrote that erotic fan fiction being like, “Mary let Bothwell in the back door,” or whatever, it was so tricky because they were trying to be like, “Mary is a whore, but not during the period of time in which James was conceived. She was having an affair with Rizzio, but not to the point that James was Rizzio’s son. She was in love with Bothwell but not…”

Lana: “But James is totally legitimate.”

Ann: So, it’s like, “She was this nymphomaniac, slut, whore, except for this period of time when she conceived this child.” So, the narrative, they want to blame her and say that she’s so slutty, but you can never call into question James’ father. That’s how you know that it’s bull shit. Although, I will say, James for his whole life, there were rumours that Rizzio was his father, they would call him the Italian son because he had dark hair and then his descendants had dark hair. And it’s like, that’s because it’s a dominant gene and also, there were numerous people with dark hair that married into this family. Even Charles II was called “The Italian,” and stuff because he had dark hair. Like, Rizzio’s the dad. Anyway…

Allison: No. No one’s ever been– I’ve said this many times on this podcast, no one’s ever been more Darnley’s son than James VI, so fuck off with that.

Lana: I got my dark hair from my Scottish line, what the heck? It’s allowed. Especially with red hair. Dark hair is always going to win over red hair.

Ann: Exactly. The fact that James had like, dark hair– Actually, there’s something I wanted to say and I’m going to put this picture on Instagram when we post this episode. I was listening, just because the last episode, the early access to the last episode just came out and I was listening to it, and I got carried away listening. I was just like, “Me and Allison are hilarious. This is great, listen to us go.” [Lana laughs] But there’s a part of the story where Mary, it was a really sad part where she had been sent a portrait of James and she wrote back being like, “This looks different than the other portrait. Who is this by? Is this what he looks like?” And I was like, “Wait, was that the portrait of sassy James, hand-on-hip with the falcon?”

Allison: With the falcon! My favourite portrait of any royal ever?

Ann: And I like to think, I don’t know if it was that portrait, but it was around when he was that age so if they’re like, “Here’s your son,” and he’s, like, sassy, hand-on-hip posing with a falcon being like, “Mmm, I am Darnley miniature.”

Allison: Can you, on the Instagram, put that picture right next to the one of Darnley in that, like, orange thing when Mary is refusing to hold his hand? Because they’re making the same facial expression.

Ann: That’s just kind of like, do you want to just smack that face? Yeah.

Allison: You sure do.

Ann: Anyway, that was just something that, because I was like, “Wait, a portrait of young James. The only portrait of young James I’ve ever seen is the one where he looks so sassy and just like the nightmare person that he is.”

Allison: Mm-hm. So, in conclusion for this segment, fuck Bothwell. The end.

Ann: Basically, yeah. Okay. So, we’re getting into the official regular scoring categories. So, we have the Lady Jane Seymour Memorial Award for Outstanding Supporting Performance.

Allison: Ann knows who my pick is for this.

Lana: Who is your pick?

Ann: I mean, Rizzio.

Allison: It’s got to be Rizzio, right?

Lana: There are no other options. It’s Rizzio.

Allison: There’s one other option and it’s Mary Seaton. She’s up there.

Lana: She’s up there but, like, it’s the difference, like, you love your hairdresser but then there’s your bestie.

Allison: Yeah, but she was her hairdresser in prison for like 25 years.

Lana: Yeah. I mean, Mary was a very good friend, Mary Seaton. All of the Marys were good friends until, you know, they weren’t.

Ann: Mary Seaton… The reason I started this category was because it was so rare. I’ve done however many episodes, 100 or something and like, 10 people have ever gotten this award because there are so many stories where everyone is terrible. So, like, when someone is nice, I like to– I would give it… Here’s the thing. I would give Mary Seaton the regular award for Outstanding Supporting Performance because she was there, she was making Mary’s outfits, she was styling her wigs, she was there for her, basically, for as long as she was allowed to be. Rizzio is like a level higher which is where I feel like, this is where we get into do we rename something in his honour?

Allison: I think that we should keep the Jane Seymour level and then for Extremely Outstanding Performance, like a Lifetime Achievement Award sort of thing, we could also award the Jewelled Tortoise to someone in this role.

Ann: I like that, I like that because he is the Jewelled Tortoise Award for Outstanding Outstanding, like…

Allison: Yes. For legendary friend behaviour.

Ann: Yeah. And I’m over here like, “Crap, I have to add things to the website now?” [laughs]

Allison: [laughs] I don’t think there will be very many Jewelled Tortoises in Ann’s future episodes.

Ann: No, but Davie Rizzio gets, he’s a higher…

Lana: Queen Christina’s bestie was also a Jewelled Tortoise.

Ann: He was. and so was Hortense Mancini’s best friend, I forget his name.

Allison: There’s a very limited number.

Lana: So, like, the boys. [laughs] When it’s a boy, then it’s a Jewelled Tortoise Award.

Ann: It’s like, everyone’s gay best friend gets this award, yes.

Allison: I would like one.

Lana: Wait, we’re sure that’s not James’s dad? [Allison laughs]

Ann: [laughs] I’m trying to think, I’m looking at my list of, who is that person who was Christina’s friend, Azzolino, that was the guy. Do we have a thing on the website, Lana, for the Outstanding Supporting Performance? Or that’s just a thing one day you’ll put?

Lana: No, but we should.

Ann: I can send you the list. Yeah, because these are people who like, some of these, like Lady Jane Seymour did a great thing and that’s why she got the award named after her. She ran out in the street, grabbed a random priest, got her friend married, and then died. It was great best friend behaviour. But Davie Rizzio was like, yeah, the Jewelled Tortoise Award level, absolutely.

And then we get into, duh-duh, the Scandilicious Scale. The three of us have real strong feelings, which is great, nothing wrong with our real strong feelings but I do want to both not get carried away and not undersell this. This is the challenge where whenever I’m scoring anybody, I’m like, “10s, 10s!” I’m like, “No, I have to think about this.” The fact that I did 10 episodes about Mary, Queen of Scots does not mean that, you know, necessarily all of her scores are going to be… They could be all 10s.

Lana: But what we’re holding her in comparison to is not her story but in the oeuvre of these amazing women that existed throughout history, where does she fall?

Ann: Exactly.

Allison: We’re only talking about people who are.

Ann: Exactly. We’re talking, this is a scale on which Catherine de’ Medici has–

Lana: Not Charlotte.

Ann: No, Charlotte has a 0 or a 1.

Allison: She has 1.

Lana: She has a 1, you argued me up. [laughs]

Ann: But we’re talking about Catherine de’ Medici has 35.5 on a scale of 40. The highest anyone has ever gotten is Fredegund. Fredegund has a 38. That’s why I renamed the scale the Fredegund Memorial Scandiliciousness Scale because she had such an effect on me. But you can never go higher than a 10 and that’s why the four categories balance each other out. To get a high score on all of them– Although I think Mary is… This is not going to be a low score.

Lana: Yeah, she’s going to be up there in the top 10 at least.

Ann: So, the first category is Scandiliciousness. So, Jennifer Morag Henderson, again, the author of Daughters of the North, it’s so good. It’s a dual biography of Mary, Queen of Scots and Jean Gordon, it’s so good. Jennifer and I have an email correspondence. She sends me corrections sometimes to things I say that are inaccurate about Scotland. She also shared pictures on her Instagram, she went to visit the salt pans where Jean Gordon’s salt was, and she saw people doing a salt-making demonstration and she got to take home salt. I was so jealous.

Anyway, so scandal, here’s what she says. Again, this is a Scottish person who has written about Mary, Queen of Scots, so, her point of view. This is my question for her and for you: how much was Mary a scandalous person? I need to separate how much was she seen as scandalous and how much was she actually? Because she showed up and John Knox was like, “This fucking nymphomaniac,” where it’s like, “She just showed up, she’s super Catholic and she’s 18!” So, what did she actually do and how much was this people putting that on her? So, Jennifer says:

She was definitely seen as scandalous in her time and then for a long time after. Even now though, the reasons people think of her as scandalous have changed over time. At first, in France, she’s even a little bit scandalous for things like riding astride or being Scottish or being tall. Then in Scotland, scandalous for being Catholic and young and wanting to dance. Then when they go for her reputation, all sorts of scandalous. And now, perhaps, still a bit scandalous for being a woman in a man’s world, or even scandalous because people argue over her significance.

She says a 9 or a 10. What are your thoughts? She did treason, that’s scandalous. I would discount the entire Bothwell situation. People saw it as scandalous but that was done to her, that was not her.

Allison: That’s going in the Sexism category, we’re going to hold on that. [laughs]

Ann: Yeah. Darnley was exploded, but that was not to do with– She was near that scandal. Rizzio was murdered, she was near that scandal but that wasn’t her being scandalous.

Lana: Lots of scandal happened around her and that’s hard to separate.

Allison: I think her daring escapes come into the scandalousness though. I feel like the daring escapes and the disguises and the climbing out of windows, I’d put that in scandal a little bit. It might be more of a scheme, but I feel like–

Lana: Yeah, dressing as a boy.

Ann: Just wearing pants and walking around, she did that on purpose, and she knew it would shock people.

Lana: Exactly. And she did that to shock people. And she rode horses, the exercise thing, she did things that were not expected of her either as a queen or as a woman and she had no qualms about it, it didn’t stop her, society’s expectations, or the fact that people were actively trying to kill her most of the time. She still did these things that were against society.

Ann: It’s true and I appreciate that she was true to herself in that way and people saw this as scandalous. Exactly, those are things she did, yes.

Lana: And then the treason, actively trying to turn France against England again. Little things like that. [laughs]

Ann: Yes. She did treason via embroidery, she did treason via letters, she tried to marry T-Dog.

Lana: She had a secret spy code.

Allison: Okay, this is a provocative question but are we describing schemes rather than scandals?

Lana: That’s true, that is Scheminess. But the scandal, I would say, is the dressing up. Even making marmalade and pretending to be poor almost. That kind of stuff, we’re used to that from Marie Antoinette but even in Marie Antoinette’s time, that was scandalous.

Ann: I think what’s scandalous, the schemes are– like doing the treason is schemey but, like, in other ones where I’ve– And again, I have to say, this Scandaliciousness Scale is not scientific and it’s all vibes-based. [Lana and Allison laugh] But somebody like Frances Howard, she put together a group of people, that’s a scheme. And then murdered a person to marry her lover, that’s scandal. Doing the scheme is separate, the scandal is, she did treason, and she was found guilty of treason, that’s scandalous. She was executed for treason; that’s scandalous. But the code and the ciphers, that’s more scheminess. It’s like the end result to me.

Lana: Yeah. How she did it is the scheminess, and the results of the things that she did is the scandalous.

Ann: Yeah.

Lana: I agree with the 9 or the 10 but Allison can talk me down. [laughs]

Allison: I feel like I’m being caught up in what the scandals are and I’m like, okay, it was scandalous at the time, but I don’t think most people were against her because of her scandalous behaviour, they were against her because of political position and who they would rather have had.

Lana: But if they take that away… Because a lot of her is tainted by just how much is going on all at the same time.

Allison: I’m trying to focus in on, like, her.

Lana: Take away everybody else. Everything was perfectly normal in Scotland; the Queen is running around wearing pants and making marmalade and getting in fights with local workers. That would be rather scandalous.

Allison: Rather scandalous but not as scandalous as murdering your lover, right? It’s not that kind of a scandal.

Ann: She’s also, not to defend John Knox or to side with him at all, and this is something Jennifer pointed out to me, she’s got a real even head where I don’t about John Knox. [Lana laughs] But the fact that Mary, Queen of Scots was, like, throwing dance parties at the castle while there was a cost-of-living crisis and people were poor, was a bad move. John Knox was like, “She’s a whooore and she’s dancing,” but he’s also saying, “People are dying and you’re spending money on chocolate fountains.”

Allison: “People are dying, Kim.” [laughs]

Lana: She had very Marie Antoinette vibes. There’s a lot of personality overlap between the two when you take everything away.

Allison: I feel like I’m coming in at an 8 which may be overly conservative.

Ann: No, I think an 8 for scandal, like, a lot of what, there’s going to be a lot to talk about Scheminess, Significance, Sexism. But she’s seen as scandalous just because people think that we give points because she’s doing things on purpose knowing that they’re scandalous. And she did, she threw the party, she ran around wearing pants, she did a treason.

Lana: She did a whole treason. [laughs]

Allison: Yes. But most of her scandalous reputation is stuff that’s not true.

Ann: Exactly. And that’s why I don’t want to be… She was, I’m almost like… I’m okay with an 8, I could go to a 7. Lana, what do you think?

Lana: Well, I’m siding with your author friend and I’m going to go a 9.

Ann: Let’s do 8.5.

Lana: 8.5 sounds reasonable to me.

Ann: 8.5 okay. So, the next one is the Scheminess. I’ll tell you what Jennifer says. She says:

Very schemey especially in England with the cipher letters. Since she’s scheming at a time of other brilliant schemers (Catherine de’ Medici, William Cecil) and she ultimately fails where they succeed, I’m going to take points off. 8 or 9.

Allison: Ooh, bold. Because I feel, and we’ve talked about this Ann, Cecil and Catherine de’ Medici had people with them, they were not a solo operation and I feel like Mary was a solo schemer in a world of network schemers and the fact that she held her own for, like, 40-plus years is pretty impressive to me.

Lana: Like, how many daring escapes did she have based on her charisma alone? These people, she walks into this castle, no friends, no support system, and she walks out with somebody helping her. That’s a level of scheminess that is unheard of. And I’m, as you all know, a very big Catherine of Aragon fan. But Catherine of Aragon was taught to be that; she was raised in, like, one of the schemiest places–

Allison: Catherine de’ Medici not Catherine of Aragon?

Lana: Catherine de’ Medici, sorry. Catherine de’ Medici, huge Catherine de’ Medici fan.

Allison: I was like, tell me more about this.

Lana: Catherine de’ Medici, literally the child of the person that Machiavelli wrote The Prince for, grandchild of the person The Prince was about, that’s her soul. And Mary is just, like, she doesn’t have a support system, she doesn’t have any of those things, she walks into the room and leaves with a support system. And I think that in addition to the embroidery and creating her own cipher system and all of this stuff…

Allison: Hiding them in a barrel of wine.

Lana: Just out of this world number.

Ann: I think I agree. And I think because of what she’s up to in England, for sure. And then also, what sticks with me is after Rizzio was murdered, she was, whatever, 8 months pregnant, her friend has just been murdered in front of her by 200 people who she thought she could trust, including her brother and her husband, and then she stays up through the night, she uses her ladies – I love the ladies, supporting ladies – but she pretends to be going into labour, she gets Darnley to switch sides and then she rides off on a horse, raises an army. Not even the raising the army part but the fact that she was in that castle with a bunch of people who were prepared to murder her, and she turned it around just on vibes, just on her own innate resiliency. I would give her a 10 for Scheminess, I think that’s… Yeah.

Allison: I would too.

Lana: Yeah.

Ann: And I think that’s telling for us that she gets an 8.5 for Scandal, a 10 for Scheminess. That’s kind of the thesis of this whole season and that’s kind of what Lana was waiting for me to realize which is that she was so smart, she was so schemey, she was so resilient. And people were just like, “Oh, she was this head-over-heels woman who fell for the wrong guy.” No.

Lana: “All these terrible things happened to her.”

Allison: No. She was directing her own story as much as she possibly, physically could, every single step of the way.

Ann: Yeah. The fact that for 6 years, was Queen of Scotland when every minute of every day, everybody there was working against her is very impressive and it’s due to her schemes.

Lana: Every gap in a movie that you see about Mary, Queen of Scots is her being badass secretly in some way. They only show the men’s highlights, they never show her highlights. And that’s like, that’s all intentional.

Ann: Yeah. Because then it challenges the whole thing about, like, if we see her as capable, it makes Elizabeth a more complicated, morally gray person instead of this heroine who had no choice.

Lana: Elizabeth deserves to be a complicated, morally gray person. Elizabeth deserves to be a human being that we look back on and understand in a different way. She doesn’t deserve to be some sort of deified figure. She was a complicated person in a complicated situation, and she did the best she could.

Ann: It’s the slippery slope. I don’t know if I can think of another example offhand but when you challenge somebody’s worldview to this level then it’s like– Sometimes you see people on social media or whatever, some man who like is almost getting it, he’s like, “If every time you talk to a woman who doesn’t want to talk to you is sexual harassment, then I guess I’ve been sexually harassing women all my life.” And it’s like, “…Yeah.”

Allison: You’re so close! You’re so close to getting it!

Ann: It’s like if you realize that something that you’ve been believing or thinking your whole life is terrible, then it calls into question everything. And so, if people suddenly start thinking, oh, if Elizabeth wasn’t perfect, if Elizabeth wasn’t justified in everything she did, then that calls into question the whole concept of how they think of England and the monarchy and everything and then it’s like, oh you don’t want to go down that road. But by seeing Mary in this complex way, it forces that.

Lana: My comparison is explaining the Founding Fathers to Ann, a Canadian. [Allison laughs] It’s like, I already know they’re terrible people and they’re fallible humans but every time I have to explain something about that era of history to Ann, I realize something deeper of, “No, they were really just messed up human beings that were doing the best they could,” and that we got 200 years of a relatively stable society out of it. It wasn’t a good society, but a relatively stable society was kind of impressive for those dumb kids.

Ann: That’s exactly the same thing. If the Founding Fathers weren’t literal saints who knew the right things to say at all times, then that calls into question the entire foundation of the United States and then it’s like, not everyone wants to go down that journey.

That’s what’s so interesting about the Mary and Elizabeth thing. The way you described it, Lana, – and I’m glad you described it on the podcast because you’ve said this to me before – but just the fact that everything was based on, like, all the Mary stuff avoids her scheminess because if you confront that, then you confront well, why did she have to be so schemey? Oh, because Elizabeth also was. Oh, because there was a chance Mary could have won. Yeah, and it just causes these conversations that challenge people’s worlds.

Lana: It also questions the fact that… Was the combination of England and Scotland inevitable? Could Scotland have remained free and independent had it made different choices? And England, in particular, wanted that to feel inevitable.

Ann: Yes, yes.

Lana: And by weakening Mary, by making it seem like Mary was weak and powerless, she had to have given birth to James who was powerful, and England needed James so therefore they needed to combine their powers. But did they? And if you see Mary as a powerful, capable woman of leadership, could Scotland now be free? Yes, obviously.

Ann: And that’s just a real Jesus and Mary sort of situation. Mary existed just as a womb to bring forth James. And that’s very much how James remembered her on her tomb, it’s like, “Here’s the woman who gave birth to me.”

Lana: “I am important.” And James thought it was a coup to have combined the two countries and to be the leader of both. But I don’t think anybody who lives in Scotland would necessarily agree with him based on recent voting. Some people would but that’s okay. That’s for them to figure out. [laughs]

Ann: And I think that Scotland was in the position it was in– I don’t know, it worked out that James was a boy, and that Elizabeth didn’t have children and that he was able to go over and become the new king. But also, Scotland had had like, five or six boy kings in a row, so the asshole lords had way too much power because there kept being these minority rules of these little boys. So, the asshole lords got so powerful, but they were so chaotic and just dumb dumbs that Scotland was kind of easier for England to absorb. But if someone like Mary had come in and had had support then it could have turned around.

But this leads us into the significance category. And so, this is where I was really curious about what Jennifer thinks as a Scottish person. Okay, so she says, this is long but it’s good.

There’s an argument that Mary isn’t ultimately that significant as she doesn’t change the way the Protestant Reformation goes in Scotland, and she doesn’t reign very long, but I don’t think that’s true. Obviously, there’s the fact that she’s James’ mother, so her lineage lives on in that way, both in terms of people and events, the union of Scotland and England, and everything that happens with the Stuarts. Mary also looms over everything from her own time right down to now. People do know who she is… 

I think that’s significant. Even people who don’t know the story have heard the name Mary, Queen of Scots.

… and they think about her and that had and has a cultural effect and significance. She made people think about what having a female monarch meant. Her life made people think about what happens if the monarch doesn’t want the same as the people in the country. She’s linked with Scotland, and it makes people think about Scottish identity. At the time she made people think about religion. Her death made her think that monarchs could be executed. 

That’s significant, right, and that’s why Elizabeth waited so long to do it.

Her significance after her death and her impact on Scottish culture has to be considered as huge. There are so many people writing about her, painting her, taking fashion inspiration from her, making TV shows about her. So, I reckon she needs extra points for cultural significance. What about an 8? Extra points for significance to culture but loses points for not having as much impact on Scotland.

And this is kind of where I fall on it, and this is why I emailed her because I was just, like, I don’t know what I think. There are so many things like Mary haunted this castle and this hotel and that’s good for tourism. But it’s almost like the boogie man, it’s not about the actual Mary, Queen of Scots, it’s like, “It’s the ghost.”

She reigned for six years but Scotland was in such a state, even if Jimmy Stewart had been there, if she had stayed in France and he had been the regent because she was in France, England probably would have still taken over. So, like, I don’t know, Mary tried to stop that from happening, but it still did happen. So, just trying to separate… There’s the cultural significance and then there’s the actual world significance and I’m not sure where I fall on it.

Allison: It’s hard to separate what Mary herself did and what her personal significance is. I’m just wary, and I think it sounds like Jennifer is too, of giving all of her significance to what her descendants and her children did. That feels funky to me. The descendants of Mary, Queen of Scots have tremendous significance; that line going forward, we’ve talked about it many times on this podcast. Responsible for a lot of okay things and a lot of really, really bad things. But Mary herself, I don’t want to define her by James because James sucks, but her as a person. [Lana breathes and laughs softly] Deep breath from Lana on the mic.

Lana: So, all right, I appreciate that within Scotland itself, Mary, Queen of Scots is not perceived as… She is significant and ghosts and whatever. But I think her impact, yes, through her descendants, but also through life choices, the things that happened in her existence, the people she ended up with, and the things that she did have fundamentally changed the entire world.

There are very few people that we talk about in this episode whose first marriage could have entirely changed the entire face of the world, let alone the second or third marriage. And if Bothwell had killed James, let’s just pretend, we wouldn’t have English colonialism the way we have it today, we wouldn’t even have had Puritans. American society would be fundamentally different because Oliver Cromwell wouldn’t have had weak kings to work against. We wouldn’t have had so many things that made England the British Empire that we know today, exist, because of very few incidences in this one woman’s life.

Yes, James was an asshole, and he made all these choices. But if things had been slightly different with her first marriage, or if Catherine had let her marry Charles the way he wanted to, and they had continued the French line that way, that would have changed the world. If things had gone different with Rizzio, if things had gone different with Darnley, if all of these people in this one woman’s life had gone even slightly differently, we might not even be speaking English at this point.

And so, as an individual within Scotland, I agree, maybe she’s an 8 or a 9. But there’s a reason why Edison – who was probably just as patriarchal and anti-woman as John Knox was – chose her as one of the first things to talk about. Mary was an influence in America of Scottish-American descent. Even the fact that my family thinks they’re descended from Mary is a common thing in American-Scottish people. It’s like, “Oh yeah, we’re related to the Stuarts somehow,” it’s a thing I’ve heard so many times. And so, claiming descent of her and what happened to her, and her story as an individual, has transcended Scotland and transcended England and the Isles. But also, the significant events of her life significantly impacted the entire world and not just one little country. It wasn’t just about what happened in Scotland, it was about what happened everywhere.

So, that’s why I will always say she’s a 10 and not just because as a 7th grader, I was obsessed with her. But having studied history, I don’t see these sliding glass doors moments in people because most people’s life choices do not have that level of impact. Most people, even James being James, his individual choices didn’t cause what happened after, it was the stuff that happened to Mary that caused James to be the worst person. [laughs] And so, that’s my argument. I will defer to you because, again, my bias is strong and deep and I’ve thought about it for a very, very long time.

Ann: Mm-hm. What number did you say, Allison? Lana is coming in with a 10, Jennifer is saying 8 or 9. What number are you thinking?

Allison: Now I’m thinking 9.5 seems fair.

Ann: I’m thinking 9.5 as well just because of the sliding glass doors, the cultural impact. I wouldn’t put it at a 10 because Lana, I love that you came in here hot, with a really debate, award-worthy, you win the debate for sure.

Allison: Really unfurled the scroll of your talking points.

Lana: I’m just not going to let it pass me by without taking the opportunity and you know that.

Allison: No more you should.

Lana: I will do it randomly in a chat so I might as well do it on your podcast. [giggles]

Ann: Have this on record. Have it recorded and soon in a transcript as well. Where I’m taking off the 0.5 is one thing you said, because one thing you said, I agree, a lot of the things in her life defined what happened in the modern age but I won’t say that it’s all her choices. Francis died, Catherine didn’t let her marry Charles because her uncles had been fucking around. That wasn’t Mary choosing that, that was just kind of what happened to her. I guess she chose to go to Scotland instead of retire to a convent in France. So, that’s where I’m taking off a 0.5, not a whole point. [Lana laughs]

But I do think in terms of, and this is… Later on, next year I’m planning to maybe revisit some of my earlier episodes where my scoring was a little bit more chaotic to just see what would I score– Like, Cleopatra, for instance, has a weirdly low score.

Lana: The GOAT has an awful score?

Ann: Caroline of Brunswick, yes.

Lana: Yes.

Ann: Because that was the first episode I ever did, and I didn’t want to… Anyway.

Lana: You didn’t know.

Ann: I didn’t know.

Allison: We didn’t calibrate the scale for a while.

Lana: I will absolutely say that her choice to do a treason against Elizabeth was… That choice did change the world, so I’m just going to throw that out there. I’m not trying to change your score. I just want to point out that the doing of the treason, which was what got her killed, which was the first time a monarch was really known to be human and fallible and murderable by another monarch without the whole country rising against you, is significant.

Ann: It is. It definitely is. And 9.5 is where I think we will go. We know where she is in your heart. I think we would all…

Lana: There are people who agree with me. [laughs]

Ann: I think we would all have given her a 20/10 for Scheminess if we could have but there have to be some rules. Okay, so the last category is the Sexism Bonus and I’ll tell you what Jennifer says first because I think what I told her is like, if she’d been a Catholic man with French connections, the asshole lords would probably have turned on that man as well. They were mad at her for being a woman, but if Mary had been a man with all the same de Guise connections– They kidnapped James, the asshole lords. Her being a woman was the low-hanging fruit that they could criticize her on but there was other stuff as well. But then again, as a man, she’d have been so much more dangerous to Elizabeth and might have been successful in usurping her. That’s what I said so I was like, “Jennifer, what do you think?” What she says about sexism,

It’s so interesting to imagine what could have happened if she was a man. I know some of the recent writing on Mary really focuses on this aspect, but I actually think it was less important that she was female than that she was brought up in France. She just didn’t understand the Scottish court and the Scottish lords.

You’ve talked about that Lana, she was raised by Catherine de’ Medici, and she was raised to think royal life was a certain way and she got to Scotland and they’re just, like, doing a whole other thing.

Lana: And she was raised to be a de Guise and that can work both ways in Scotland, obviously.

Ann: Yes, yes.

James VI was kidnapped more than once as a baby and a child, but he was always in Scotland and learned how to deal with everyone. Mind you, James would never have ended up in a situation like Mary did with Bothwell because he was a man.

Allison: Well, James specifically might have.

Lana: [laughs] James might have.

Ann: Fair. They wouldn’t have gotten married though.

Lana: It wouldn’t have been legal.

Ann: They would have if he could have.

If Mary of Guise had had a son, would she have sent him to the French court to stay safe? This is very tricky. Mary certainly commanded respect as a queen and was comfortable working in what might be considered a female way, for instance, manipulating Darnley when she had to after Rizzio’s death. I don’t know if she would have felt held back at all by being a woman. How would things have been if she had made a better marriage??? But who could she have married?

And that’s the thing, Darnley kind of was the best option for her at the time. “So many questions. Another high score, 8 again?” is what Jennifer says. And it is complicated. The intersection of her being a woman and a Catholic and the French stuff, specifically the de Guise stuff. There’s a lot that people saw in her that they hated but she was specifically… Like, the Sexism Bonus, how I thought of it, is how much did the patriarchy hold her back? How much more could she have achieved if she was a man and I do think if this was a man we were talking about, James, King of Scots, presumably would have been his name, the story would be very different because a male rival to Elizabeth would have gotten more support, I think. Probably.

Allison: And I think it’s worth underlining how much her life was held back and how much she suffered because of the fact that she was forced to marry people to get power. I don’t want to undercount, the Bothwell alone Sexism Bonus, that’s a high.

Ann: Yeah, you’re right. It’s not just that she was a woman but that she lived in a patriarchal society where she had to marry somebody. If she, well Elizabeth didn’t but that was complicated and different. Yeah.

Allison: Yeah, she could have been more like James and married somebody just because that’s what you do, you need someone who can bear a child and is not politically a problem for me. She needed someone who was politically a help and that meant she had to look among these asshole schemers who were just the worst.

Lana: I want to turn this sideways a little bit because there’s an aspect of if she was a man how would things be different? But because she was a woman, what did the patriarchy specifically do to specifically harm her? And the entire Bothwell incident is the specific harm that women see from the patriarchy in the worst extreme. It’s the forced marriage, it’s the taking advantage of your illness or your weakness, it’s spreading false rumours and basically like, creating this illusion that you’re a whore or that you do deviant sex acts and somehow those deviant sex acts or having any sort of interest in sex other than specifically marriage missionary position happiness, is something that is wrong with you and makes you less than. It’s the fact that he was probably assaulting her on a regular basis during this time.

That is not a thing that has happened to most of the women in our stories, in the stories that Ann tells. Catherine de’ Medici was actively doing the weirdest things in order to get pregnant and was going to the girlfriend to be like, “How do you make this happen?” She was not assaulted regularly, she was not kidnapped, and she was not tortured at her weakest. The patriarchy went out of their way to harm Mary as a human being and that’s just because even being a man, yes, that wouldn’t have happened. But being a royal woman, that does not happen, and Mary very specifically had those kinds of things happen to her.

Ann: The patriarchy/sexism, whatever you want to call it, really did harm her in these really real ways. Elizabeth never married and she was able to make the sexism work, she played along with it. Elizabeth said stuff where it’s like, “I might look like a gross woman but on the inside, I’m actually a cool man!” She was able to be respected because she played along with it, she found ways to make the patriarchy and the sexism work for her. And Mary, I’m sure tried, but ultimately is like, what are you going to do when a man decides to kidnap and assault you?

Lana: When you’re having a health crisis and probably postpartum depression and a lot of things that are very, very hard for a woman to deal with and that they turn that into– If it happens today, it would be some of the scariest things that could happen; it’s revenge porn and all of that stuff all wrapped into one situation. The patriarchy hurts us all. That one situation though is an example of some of the worst things that the patriarchy does to women.

Ann: Yeah, and that’s very much what this category is for. It’s just like, how much more could she have achieved if that wasn’t the society in which she lived? If it wasn’t patriarchal in this vile way.

Allison: One other thing I’ll say to Mary’s extreme and eternal credit is that despite that, at no point in her life was she like, “And I will now renounce my femininity and my sexuality and will try to like, mould myself after some kind of male…” I think Jennifer said in her note, she had a very female kind of power in her charisma and her ability to talk people around and bring them on their side. The people of Edinburgh were obsessed with her, not because she was a man but because she was a woman, and she did use that in a way that I think is really incredible given what she was up against. She still leaned in, knowing that that was her power. Her power was, “How can I use outfits and charm and, you know, the drama of me to make people want to be with me and support my cause?” She did that shit.

Lana: She was strong. She was one of those people that figured out a way to survive no matter what. And if those things hadn’t happened to her, she wouldn’t have had to leave for England, she probably would have stayed and fought those asshole lords to her dying breath. But because she was a woman, that was possible, and she got the worst… But yeah, when she got to England, the story stops, and it didn’t stop at all. She just kept going and kept trying and never gave up.

Allison: And that’s the only reason that my heart doesn’t want to give her a 10 for Sexism. Not because what happened to her is not the most sexist thing that can happen, because it is. But if the category is, how much did it stop her? I want to, we talked about this through the whole season, it didn’t. The prevailing narrative is, “Oh, poor Mary who all these terrible things happened to because she was a woman and because people took advantage of her.” Yes, she was a woman and people took advantage of her, she said fuck you and kept going. My heart wants this score to recognize that, not that it would be a sign of her weakness if she hadn’t kept going. I don’t want this to be a victim blamey category, but it feels like it should note that how much did sexism hold her back? Only as much as it did, and she fought every single step of the way to make sure it didn’t.

Ann: Yeah, that’s fair.

Lana: I don’t think it’s a 0 but I agree it’s not a 10.

Allison: It’s definitely not a 0.

Lana: It did hold her back, but it didn’t stop her. It’s hard, I agree.

Allison: It’s definitely above a 5 but it’s not a 10.

Ann: If you’re thinking about somebody, like, when I think about who to give sexism points to, it’s somebody like Sophia Dorothea whose husband locked her away in a house for 25 years because it seemed like she was maybe going to leave him. It’s like, how much more could she have achieved? We don’t even know because she was just trapped away for so long. That, to me, is a 10 where it’s just like, she had no chance. Or if you think about a lower-class woman who had no other options.

Allison: Mary Toft is a 10 for Sexism.

Ann: Yes! Mary Toft is perfect, that’s a perfect example because it’s just like, she was so poor she had no other… Can I read you just something, I think it’s sort of related to this. So, there’s a listener to this show whose name is Miguel, he is our official South American liaison. He is part of the Patreon, and he leaves these very thoughtful comments after each episode and this one part I thought was really interesting, I love that he reclaims this. He says,

My lasting thought is that crying is good because it releases tension and lets your emotions out so Mary allowing herself to cry is probably what kept her alive for so long. She didn’t bottle up all her feelings and negative thoughts, she let herself feel them and then got herself back together and continued to plot away.

And I like the way he said that because there are so many stories where it’s like, “Mary cried.” John Knox talked to her, she cried. And often people see it as a negative thing, but I like the way that he described this where it’s like, she feels it and people are like, “Look at her, she’s so weak, she’s crying.” And it’s like, but no, that helps. That helps her get back.

Allison: Yeah. She didn’t stop. She cried and then was like, “Okay, what am I going to do about that now?”

Ann: Yeah, exactly. I just like the way that he phrased that so shoutout to Miguel. So, I agree with everything and it’s so complicated because being a woman did affect her life in countless shitty ways and also, she found a way to use her feminine power. And I agree Allison, I like the way that you describe that too. She wasn’t like, “Okay, I’m going to be like Elizabeth, I’m going to just have helmet hair and act like a man all the time.” She’s like, “No, this is what I can do, this is what I’m good at. Manipulating people, being charming, dancing, embroidery. This is what I can do.”

Allison: “Even when I die, I’m going to have an outfit change at my execution because fuck you.”

Ann: You’re right. It’s a very feminine power.

Lana: I don’t think she deserves to be like, what if she was a man? It’s like, okay, so the patriarchy was working against her, how much more could she have achieved? And she achieved a lot! But how much even more could she have achieved if there wasn’t a patriarchy? How much more could she, as herself, have achieved?

Ann: And that’s a huge question. you hear that about people, I forget who it is– Anyway, you hear about people in the Civil Rights and stuff where it’s just like, this person wanted to be a baseball player but then, with what society was like, I think it was Fred Hampton, ended up being a civil rights leader. If he hadn’t had to do that, if society hadn’t been so shitty that he had to step up, he would have just been this happy baseball player. So, if Mary hadn’t had to spend 90% of her time fending off the assholes, what could she have done?

Lana: If Mary hadn’t had to escape to England, would Scotland have be in charge of England now?

Ann: Yeah. And it’s all connected. So, what– Are we at a 9?

Lana: What was the original suggestion? The one person who felt, who was able to give a number?

Ann: The actual Scottish person? She says 8.

Lana: Allison, how do you feel?

Allison: I feel good about an 8.

Lana: I’m cool with an 8. Again, I just want to advocate for my girl.

Allison: I mean, she deserves a 50/40, in all of our hearts. We’re all fully in agreement about that.

Ann: So, this gets her… I’m going to double-check my math. This is a very important number and I want to make sure I get it right. So, we have 8.5 for Scandiliciousness, 10 for Scheminess, 9.5 for Significance and an 8 for Sexism, is I think 37.5.

Lana: So, it’s half a point below Fredegund.

Ann: But I think I feel good about that. This is why I wanted– Oh wait, no I think it’s 36. Wait, 8.5 plus 10, plus 9.5, plus 8 is 36. Yeah.

Lana: Yeah, 36.

Ann: So, that is– And here’s what I’m going to say. This scale is ridiculous but, you know, it’s my scale and I stick to it. So, Fredegund has a 38 and that’s deserved, obviously. Mary is a 36. That’s the same as Njinga has a 36, I would say a similarly powerful person with a similarly complex story of just like, because she was a woman what?

Lana: And Hürrem Sultan.

Ann: Yeah, has a 36, I like that. Catherine de’ Medici 35.5. Mary has 0.5 more than Catherine de’ Medici.

Lana: There’s a lot of 35.5s. There’s a whole…

Ann: It’s interesting, yeah. It’s interesting how– And they’re all for different reasons; some people are higher in some places than other places. This is why I wanted to have you on the show because I would just be like “Mary, Queen of Scots 10s! 10s across the board!” But I really wanted to get into it and talk about it and be objective and have a conversation and really feel confident about the number.

Lana: Allison tempers me well. [Ann laughs]

Allison: We have conflicting instincts and I think we balance out to a good average. I think 36 feels really good for her.

Ann: Yeah, I like this for her and who she’s in the company of. It’s just people who are complex and interesting, and I don’t want it to be like, because we did ten episodes about her, doesn’t mean that she’s necessarily more interesting than other people. There’s just more stuff we know about her and she–

Lana: She’s well-documented.

Ann: She’s well-documented and she did 100 things every day of her life for 44 years. There are other people where it’s like, “For the next 10 years, we don’t know what she did.” But for Mary, Queen of Scots it’s like, “This day she did this, this day she did this.” It’s, yeah.

Allison: Yeah, there’s plenty.

Lana: “On Friday, she ate eggs.” [laughs]

Allison: “On Saturday, she embroidered a rhinocerote.”

Ann: [laughs] I do want to say, for anybody who is still listening to this incredibly long episode, in the previous episodes, last week to everybody we played the interview with Clare Hunter. The week before we were talking about the embroideries. And yeah, I have the merch, the merch design ‘The Catte’ where Jan Jupiter, it destroys me, I love it so much. I ordered the cat design on a pillowcase, and it arrived. I put it on a pillow and every time I see it, I’ve never been so happy with anything I’ve ever possessed in my entire life as this cat pillow. Hepburn the actual cat does not care about it. I think it just smells different, it doesn’t smell like home yet, so we have to let it sit here for a while. Anyway, I just wanted to mention, I don’t know, I don’t know. If there are other Mary, Queen of Scots merch ideas, please let me know. I’m sure there are many things we’ve said that would be catchy.

I want both of you to be able to say where people can find you and follow you and see what you’re up to. Do you want to go first, Lana?

Lana: You can find information about me and my books on and if you want to follow me on social media, I’m now actually active on Threads as @muliebris.

Ann: Threads baby! Yeah. It’s the… I don’t know, it’s been funny. I pre-record various episodes and as each episode comes out, I’m just like, “Do I need to edit out where I say, ‘I’m on Twitter’?” because I’m like, does Twitter still exist? I don’t know. But now Threads exists.

Lana: I’m also very active on the Vulgar History Salon Discord channel, should you so choose to join us.

Ann: Oh yes, I’ll talk about that first Allison because you have all the news to say, various books and stuff to talk about. But I’ll just talk about the Vulgar History Salon first. So yeah, Lana also helps with the Vulgar History website and various technical aspects of things so she helped out when we decided it would be good as an extra perk for people who are in the Patreon at the $5 and up per month level, to have a way for people to talk to each other. It sort of already happens a bit in the comments on the Patreon posts. But I love getting messages from the tits out brigade and I feel like a lot of you would like to get in touch with other ones of you and this is a way we could…

So, it’s basically a big group chat. So, if and when you join the Patreon, which you can do at, if you’re at the $5 or more per month level you get the free, not free, the $5 per month access to the bonus episodes of Vulgarpiece Theatre that I do with Allison and Lana and also now the Vulgar History Salon which is a place we can talk about the episodes, but also talk about what TV shows we’re watching and what historical fiction books we like, and share pictures of our pets and things like that. It’s a nice place to come hang out. So, I wanted to let people know that that’s there and Lana is kind of the overseer of that. But I’m there too.

Lana: And what historical figure you’re descended from.

Ann: Can I just say, in the process of doing this series, I’ve heard from a listener who is descended from Janet Stewart who was the sexy governess who went over with Mary to France and had the affair with the King, she had children not from that affair. Anyway, someone who is descended from her, someone who is descended from Mary Livingston of the Four Marys, someone who is descended from William Cecil, someone who is descended from Bess of Hardwick. And Allison, tell us about your co-worker you just found out.

Allison: It’s my professor in grad school who is a direct descendant from Sir Francis Walsingham which fully blew my mind.

Ann: I love that it’s like, all the people in this story, the next generation, are now listening to this podcast. Lana is not descended from Mary, Queen of Scots but for the time being, that will be the role you have, for now. You’ll be the pretender as the heir to that.

Allison: The pretender to the throne, yes.

Lana: I’m happily descended from Kenneth MacAlpeen [phonetic], MacAlpin, I don’t know how to say it.

Ann: I don’t know, It varies, the Mac last names. But I like to think I’m descended from some cool Highland people who saw Mary once, that’s what I choose to believe. [Lana laughs]

So, Allison, tell everybody about all of your book news and how they can follow you and what you’re up to.

Allison: Yes, all news about me and all things is on my website, You can buy book number one, A Tip for the Hangman anywhere you buy books, mostly in North America, I’m sorry. The second book is called Let the Dead Bury the Dead, it’s coming out in October, and I have a pre-order campaign going, also on the website, check that out. And then three days ago, as of recording this podcast, I got to announce that I’m publishing a third book in 2025, it’s called Our Rotten Hearts and it’s a retelling of Oliver Twist from Fagin’s point of view and it’s the book of my heart and I can’t stop talking about it. So, there’s no action you can take on that yet because I still haven’t finished writing it but if you want to be excited with me…

Ann: And you can be excited with Allison on Instagram and also on Threads, right?

Allison: I’m trying. Honestly, by the time this episode comes out, just search Rapscallison on any social media platform. I may or may not be there, but if I am, that’s what handle I’m using.

Ann: And you can keep up with this podcast, we’re on Instagram and Threads. By the time this episode comes out, maybe Threads won’t even exist anymore. Maybe it just existed for, like, two beautiful weeks.

Lana: Who knows?

Ann: Anyway, on Instagram and threads @VulgarHistoryPod and then I’m on TikTok @VulgarHistory. I have a Patreon,, as I mentioned before. So, I mentioned stuff that you get if you join at the $5/month or more level. But if you join at the $1/month or more level, you get early, ad-free access to all episodes of Vulgar History and also my unending appreciation and you can leave comments on the Patreon at those levels too so we can chat and see what’s up.

Also, somebody sent me a message the other day being like, “I don’t know if you take requests or suggestions.” And I was like, “Oh I do, maybe I haven’t said that on the podcast for a while.” So, if you have a person who you think would be good to talk about on the show, you can reach out to me on social media or also at And then also, there’s the website, overseen by Lana Wood Johnson, Thank god, honestly Lana, thank god for you for setting this all up for me. It works beautifully, all the episodes are there.

Also, we’ve been having transcripts done recently. So, they’re done by Aveline Malek from The Wordary on recent episodes. So, if you click on the episode, you’ll see the transcript so you can read along. It’s fun, Aveline is still getting used to it. She’s like, “So in this episode, how would you want to spell this nickname?” And there was one point where she was like, “I’m not sure what you’re saying” and what I was saying was, “Herman, my pills!” [Allison laughs] And I was like, “Okay, Aveline needs to know I’m going to say that a lot and how to spell that.” So, that’s all happening.

I also have merch if you go to Vulgar you can see the merch store. Sales happen pretty often on there. I used to have a discount code but now it’s like, just hang out for a couple days, there’s constantly sales going on there. And I think that’s everything, I think that’s everything I have to say.

Thank you all for listening. I will just say, this show is not over, this episode is over. But this series, there’s going to be episodes next week and we’re going to have some more Mary, Queen of Scots content coming all month long, like, going into September basically. So, there’s always going to be something fun for you in your podcatcher app when you log in. Do you guys have any final thoughts about Mary, Queen of Scots and this whole marathon that we’ve all experienced telling this story over the length of frankly, a pretty long audiobook at this point?

Allison: It’s been a joy all the way through. thank you for letting me talk to you about my girl Mary for like, fully I think 14 hours at this point, is well worth it.

Lana: Thank you for finally understanding my favourite so now we can nerd about this randomly, forever.

Ann: Yeah, I know. Lana, I was just like, “Are your final thoughts just Lana at the window being like, he-he, yes.” [laughs]

Lana: I was right, I told you so. Especially the Douglases. Obviously, now you have to listen to me all the time. [laughs]

Ann: Yeah, it’s true. But also, I love all the people who have listened to this and now we’re changing people’s understanding of Mary, Queen of Scots and who she was. People send me messages, and they’re like, “Wow, I didn’t know she was actually cool and interesting.” And I’m like, “A lot of people don’t know that so I’m glad that now people do.” Anyway, thank you both so much. I’m never going to not be the person who is like, “This will just be an hour,” and it ends up being two hours and 45 minutes but thank you both for spending this time with me. [laughs]

Lana: I should have known, with us, it’s never going to be short.

Ann: No. Especially the three of us all together.

Allison: Fool me once, shame on me. But you’ve fooled me about 17 times, and I still fall for it every time.

Ann: This is why I came up with the games. I was like, I need to make sure this episode isn’t too short. [All laugh] Thank you both for joining me. Everybody, pants on, tits out, I’ll talk to you next week. listeners, thank you all.


Vulgar History is hosted, written, and researched by Ann Foster and edited by Cristina Lumague.

Transcribed by Aveline Malek at


Learn more about Lana Wood Johnson and her books at and follow her on IG and Threads at @ muliebris

Learn more about Allison Epstein and their books at and follow them on IG and Twitter @ rapscallison

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