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4th earl of Bothwell, James Hepburn

(c. 1535—1578) 4th Earl of, Scottish nobleman


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(c. 1535–78).

The family influence was in the south of Scotland. Though a protestant, Bothwell was at first a supporter of Mary of Guise and strongly anti‐English. He had no part in the murder of Rizzio, and as relations between Mary, queen of Scots, and Darnley deteriorated, he became close to the queen. In 1567 events moved to a melodramatic climax. In February, Bothwell was the chief instigator of the murder of Darnley. On 7 May he was divorced, on 12 May created duke of Orkney, and on 15 May married Mary at Holyrood palace. Outraged at his elevation, his enemies confronted him. Mary and Bothwell fled to Borthwick castle, from which Bothwell escaped, but after the encounter at Carberry Hill on 15 June, they parted for ever—Mary to captivity in Lochleven castle, Bothwell to Orkney and Shetland. Thence he fled to Norway, under Danish rule. The king of Denmark kept him in prison as a useful pawn, first in Malmö, then in Dragsholm on Zealand, where he died insane. His embalmed body is preserved in a crypt in the church at Faarvejle nearby.

Subjects: British History.


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