Mary of Guise was queen of Scotland as the second wife of King James V. She was the mother of Mary, Queen of Scots, and served as regent of Scotland in her daughter's name from 1554 to 1560.
In 1537 Mary became the focus of marriage negotiations with James V of Scotland, who wanted a second French bride to reinforce the Franco-Scottish alliance against England. This wasn't her only option for her own second marriage (her first husband died early). The recently widowed Henry VIII of England, who was looking for another wife himself, but who also wanted to prevent this union, also asked for Mary's hand. It's not surprise that given Henry's marital history Mary refused the offer. Henry VIII told the French ambassador to London that he was big in person and had need of a big wife. It is said Mary replied, "I may be a big woman, but I have a very little neck."
The marriage contract was finalized in January 1538. On 18 May 1538, at Notre-Dame de Paris, James V and Mary of Guise were married with Lord Maxwell acting as proxy. She arrived in Scotland on June 10 and was formally received by James. They were married in person a few days later at St Andrews. Margaret Tudor, James's mother, wrote to Henry VIII saying, "I trust she will prove a wise Princess. I have been much in her company, and she bears herself very honourably to me, with very good entertaining."
On February 22, 1540, she was crowned queen. James and Mary had two sons. James Stewart, Duke of Rothesay, was born May 22, 1540. Robert was born and baptised on April 12, 1541, but tragically both died on April 21, 1541. Their third child was Mary, born on December 8, 1542. Sadly, King James died six days later, leaving the infant Mary as queen regnant of Scotland.
Seeing an opportunity to gain control over Scotland, Henry VIII of England wanted to organized a marriage between baby Mary and his son, Prince Edward. This led to political conflict in Scotland between those who wanted the marriage and those who wanted to remain aligned with France. This led to an English invasion, what was known as the Rough Wooing, and increased sparring between the two countries. After a Scottish defeat at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh in September 1547, increased French military aid weakened the position of the English, and increased the power of Mary of Guise and her supporters.
At this time, the dedication of the Scottish book, The Complaynt of Scotland, recalled Mary of Guise's descent from Godfrey de Bouillon and claimed her courage and virtue exceeded those of the ancient heroines Tomyris, Semiramis and Penthesilea.Mary became regent on April 12, 1554 and quickly stepped into her new role, dealing effectively with Scottish affairs, traveling around Scotland handling many long-standing domestic disputes. As Protestantism began to spread throughout Scotland, though, her power began to wane. And the continuing discord between England and Scotland began to worsen as Elizabeth I took the throne.
While fortifying Edinburgh Castle, Mary became seriously ill, and over the course of the next eight days her mind began to wander; some days she could not even speak. On June 8, 1560 she made her will. She died of dropsy on June 11.