Mary I, Queen of Scots, was anointed on the 9th of September, 1543.
Mary Stuart was the one and only very first Queen Regnant of Scots to actually rule Scotland in person. The one and only very first Queen of Scots was Margaret, the Maid of Norway, but the bairn never made it to her realm to rule in person, although she had a Regent rule on her behalf for a while. The next Queen Regnant of Scots was Queen Anne I, whose husband was King William I (of Scots), the Orangeman frae the Netherlands. It's often been written, particularly by Nigel Tranter in his wonderful books, that such and such a King was the umpteenth of his line. Tranter also wrote that when she was crowned and anointed Queen of Scots, albeit she succeeded to the throne nine months earlier, on the 14th of December, Mary Stuart was the one hundred and seventh of her line. And better than that, Tranter added that her line was the most ancient, unbroken line in all Christendom. You might find that amazing or hard to believe, or something in between. I guess it depends on what
Tranter meant by her 'line' and 'unbroken'.
The commonly accepted interpretation of the word 'line' is as in ancestry or lineage, perhaps house as in the house of Windsor, of which Elizabeth I, Queen of Scots, is the present holder of the title and wearer of the Scottish crown. Well, she disnae wear it often as it usually sits quite comfortably, thank you, in Edinburgh Castle, ogled daily by a flock of tourists, for a not so small fee.
Mary Stuart was the eighth ruler from the house of Stewart, preceded by five Jameses and twa Roberts, numbered accordingly. The fifth of those James was her father, James V, believe it or not. Well, there's no reason not to, which is something you cannae say about her ain offsrping, another James, the VI to be, whose faither may weel have not been the King Consort, Lord Henry Darnley-Stuart as is generally accepted. Aye, it's lang been mooted that Fiddler Davie Rizzio, yon Italian secretary, had something to dae wi' it and there's more'n a wee bit o' a resemblance to see there, if ye look hard enough, ken. Then again, some folks wad say it was the bonny Earl of Bothwell, but that's more of a stretch again.
Before the Stewarts, ancestors of the present Queen as they were, there was the house of Bruce, the smallest house, in terms of occupants, barring one, but only just. The Bruces comprised just Robert I and his son, David II. The smallest house was that of Balliol, with John Balliol, the so-called 'Toom Tabbard', being its only representative, despite the attentions of Edwards I and II of England and various Comyn Lords and Earls, red and black alike. You can trace Mary's lineage back through the Stewarts to the Bruces quite easily as Robert II was the son of Robert the Bruce's eldest daughter, Marjorie, by the sixth hereditary High Steward, Sir Walter Stewart. David II had no issue to speak of and consequently, his heir became his nephew or his nephew became his heir if you like, same difference.
But what of the transition between Balliol and Bruce? Here you get to the first problemo if you're looking for an 'unbroken line'. John Balliol's rightful heir was his son, Sir Edward Balliol and neither man had anything to do with slotting themselves in as a progenitor to the Stewart line. Och aye, they might've tried slotting something in between, but ye ken whit I mean. There was no issue involving a Balliol and a Bruce or a Stewart that occupied a place in a direct line of ascent from Mary I, Queen of Scots. So, for a connection, you have to go back to the roots of a relationship between the Bruces and the Balliols. That connection was the Earl of Northumberland, a man who never became King of Scots, but was descended from one, namely David I; his son, to be exact, known fondly as Earl Henry. So, there you go, you can trace Mary Stuart back to the son of David I, looping round John Balliol to a common ancestor. Neat trick. Nice one, Nigel.
But we're still seeking ninety rulers if Mary is to be the one hundred and seventh. She was the seventeenth in line after David I, Malcolm IV (Malcolm the Maiden), William I (William the Lion), Alexander II, Alexander III, Margaret I (the Maid of Norway), John Balliol, Robert the Bruce, David II, Robert II, Robert III, and James I – V inclusive. Some might argue that England's Edward I ruled Scotland, at least during the Interregnum, but be that as it may, Longshanks was never crowned King of Scots, so his period of rule, whether de facto or de jure, doesn't count in that regard.
If you go back beyond David I, you get Alexander I (we're going in the other direction now), Edgar, Donald III (again – as joint ruler with Edgar for a wee while), Duncan II, Donald III (for the first time, when he was known as Donald ban), Malcom III (Malcolm ceann mor), Lulach, Macbeth, Duncan I, Malcolm II (the Destroyer), Keneth III (perhaps joint ruler with Giric), Constantine III, Kenneth II, Culen, Dubh, Indulf, Malcolm I, Constantine II, Donald II, Eochaid and Giric (joint rulers), Aed, Constantine I, Donald I, and Kenneth I (Kenneth mac Alpin). That's another twenty-four Kings, if you dont' count the two Girics. That leaves sixty-six to go to get to the one hundred and seven.
So, where are they going to come from? The only place to go is the Pictish King lists. There are two of them, known as the Pictish Chronicle list A and the Pictish Chronicle list B, respectively. As an alternative, bearing in mind that Kenneth mac Alpin was the last mentioned King, we could go back down the Kings of Dalriada, but that only gives us another twenty-nine that ruled on what is now Scottish soil. The Pictish lists on the other hand, give us a lot more. The awkward thing is that the two lists don’t exactly tally, either in names or in dates, although there is quite a significant alignment in places.
List A gives us a further sixty-six names. Voila! List B give us a mere sixty-three names. I guess Tranter had his eye on the A list, from Gud to Bred; good man Nigel! Of course, there is also the legendary link to ancient Egypt via Princess Scota and her flight to Ireland via Iberia. That takes in names such as (going backwards) Cruithne, Cinge, Luctai, Partalan, Agnoin, Buain, Mais, Fathecht, Jafeth, and Noe. Quite a heritage there, eh? One thing is reasonably certain, the ancient Neanderthal inhabitants of Scotland did come from what is now the Iberian peninsula, but back then, 300,000 years ago in the Paleolithic period, during the Purfleet interglacial, Britain was a peninsula in its own right and there was no English channel to navigate.
The photograph is by Sam Perkins (check him out on Facebook at Sam Perkins Photography) and was taken near Oban.