Mary Stuart and Her Rebels-Turned-Privy Councillors: Performance of the Ritual of Counsel

  • Alexandra Nancy Johnson
Part of the Queenship and Power book series (QAP)


In August 1561 Mary Queen of Scots sailed to Scotland to assume her personal reign after the death of her husband Francis II. This chapter argues that as she established her regal authority Mary placed heavy emphasis on ritual, spatiality and the daily ceremonial schedule as a central means of keeping these councillor-magnates content. Johnson highlights that Mary departed from usual royal practice when appointing her household, to allow special prominence for privy-councillor families and to facilitate access. Accordingly these rebels-turned-privy councillors were singled out to be granted the closest proximity to their monarch. By rearranging her principal Scottish seat, Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, Mary engaged in an “architecture as politics” strategy through the ritual of monarchical counsel, creating power zones within the monarch’s bedchamber and fashioning a lavish stage for political theatre.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexandra Nancy Johnson
    • 1
  1. 1.University of EdinburghEdinburghScotland

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