James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell

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James Hepburn, 1st Duke of Orkney (c. 1534 – 14 April 1578), better known by his inherited title as 4th Earl of Bothwell, was hereditary Lord High Admiral of Scotland. He is best known for his association with and subsequent marriage to Mary I, Queen of Scots, as her third husband.


Early life

He was the son of Patrick Hepburn, 3rd Earl of Bothwell, and Agnes Sinclair (d.1572), daughter of Henry Sinclair, 3rd Lord Sinclair, and was styled Lord Hailes from birth. He succeeded his father as 4th Earl of Bothwell in 1556.

Admiral and Casanova

As Lord High Admiral of Scotland, Bothwell sailed around Europe. During a visit to Copenhagen around 1559, he fell in love with Anna Tronds, a Norwegian noblewoman whose father, Kristoffer Trondson (Rustung), a famous Norwegian admiral, was serving as Danish Royal Consul. After their engagement, Anna left with Bothwell. In Flanders, he announced that he was out of money and asked Anna to sell all her possessions. She complied and visited her family in Denmark to ask for more money. Anna's sister, Margaret, married John Stuart, 4th Earl of Atholl. Anna was unhappy and apparently given to complaining about Bothwell. Bothwell's treatment of Anna Rustung played a part in his downfall.

Connection with Mary, Queen of Scots

First acquaintance in France

Bothwell appears to have met Queen Mary when he visited the French Court in the autumn of 1560, after he left Anna Rustung in Flanders. He was kindly received by the Queen and her husband, King Francis II, and, as he himself put it: "The Queen recompensed me more liberally and honourably than I had deserved" — receiving 600 Crowns and the post and salary of gentleman of the French King's Chamber. He visited France again in the spring of 1561, and by 5 July was back in Paris for the third time — this time accompanied by the Bishop of Orkney and the Earl of Eglinton. By August, the widowed Queen was on her way back to Scotland in a French galley, some of the organisation dealt with by Bothwell in his naval capacity.

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