Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Mary, Queen of Scots: The Marian Hanging

Last week, we began learning about Mary, Queen of Scots.  The girls read the chapter about her in SOTW, which made very little mention of her life in France, surprisingly enough.  Since I think these years of her life are very important, we're also going to be reading her story in the Royal Diaries series.  However, the SOTW Activity Book Three includes a coloring page of one of her works of embroidery from the Marian Hanging.

My curiosity piqued, I Googled "Marian Hanging" and found this website about her embroidery.  I had no idea that Mary Stuart had been such an accomplished needleworker, despite having read several biographies over the years.  I suppose I shouldnb't have been surprised, though, since embroidery was a prime occupation of the aristocratic woman. The hanging (created between 1570 and 1585) comprises 37 panels of "canvas work (stitching over the threads of a coarsely woven linen) in coloured silks, silver and silver-gilt thread, mounted on green velvet."  Here's the Mary Stuart panel of the hanging:

This octagon represents the name Mary Stuart (Mary S) superimposed with the queen’s cipher, the royal crown, the thistle (her favorite flower), and the anagram motto “Sa virtu m’atire.”  Many of her works contain anagrams and secret messages.

Here's a link to the Victoria & Albert Museum's page on the hanging, which gives a very interesting account of its history.  You can also view each panel of the hanging -- make sure to click the close-up button for a better look. Although donated to the V&A, the Marian Hanging is on permanent loan to Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk, per the National Art Collections Fund's instructions.

One of my favorite things about homeschooling is how I get to learn things along with the children!  This discovery gave us a glimpse into Mary Stuart's complicated life and enriched my understanding of her as a person.


  1. Definitely one of my favorite benefits of homeschooling too - learning right alongside the children :) Wonderful study.

  2. How fascinating. I didn't know that either. Her needlework is beautiful too.

  3. That's just lovely! What an interesting peek into who she is.


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