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Chester Comstock

History of Golf

Mary Stuart Queen of Scots

Mary at 13 years of age

Few individuals in human history have been born to such a privileged position  and had such a promising beginning  in life only to  have their lives come to such a tragic end as  did Mary Queen of Scots.

Mary was born to Scottish Royalty with family ties through her mother to one of the most powerful families in France, The House Of Guise, and through her first marriage to the Dauphin/heir to the throne of France, to one of the most powerful families in Italy, the House of Medici. The Dauphin's mother being Catherine Medici and his great grandfather being Lorenzo the Magnificent of the House of Medici patron of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci and patriarch of the wealthiest and most politically influential family in Italy.

 The story of Mary and the drama of her life developed primarily because she had direct ties to the English Throne through her ancestry. Margaret Tudor, sister of King Henry VIII, had married  James IV, the King of Scotland, and had birthed their son James V. James V married Mary of Guise, and Mary Queen of Scots was born into this union in 1542. Her father James V of Scotland died within a week of Mary's birth which immediatlely made her the Queen of Scotland. Because of her young age her mother ruled as regent while Mary was sent to France for her formal education. 

Henry VIII of England had treid to legally arrange the marriage of his son Edward VI to Mary by the Treaties of Greenwich however the terms were not acceptable and the Scottish Parliment did not approve of the Union. Henry became upset and started aggressions against Scotland and Mary was sent to France to the Royal Court for her own protection and education.

 Mary was raised  in the French Court which was Catholic and her first husband was Francis II, was the Dauphin/heir to the throne of France.  At the age of 15 she was married to Francis II, the son of Henri II of France and Catherine Medici. The young couple  had been playmates while growing up together in the French Court. This union lasted only two years ending with the death of Francis II when Mary was age 17.

Upon the death of her first Husband she no longer had a claim to be the Queen of France. The French court became politically  dominated by her mother in law Catherine. Instead of staying in France and dealing with unfavorable political circumstances upon the death of Mary's mother she chose instead to return to Scotland in 1560 and claim the rule of Scotland as her rightful inheritance. This decision to a large degree marked the beginning of her personal misfortunes that ultimately lead to her captivity in England and her eventual execution.

A romanticized version of Mary Queen of Scots
playing golf on the Scottish Links

During the 16th century the game of golf had become firmly established on the east coast of Scotland and began to spread further abroad. Mary Queen of Scots, was a notable player. So keen was her interest in the game that she fell foul of the Church and Scottich Nobles for playing golf only a few days after the murder of her husband, Lord Darnley, rather than demonstrating a proper amount of time in mourning following his murder and death.

Following the Death of Lord Darnley Mary married again however her third marriage put her in conflict with other Scottish Nobles. It was suspect that Mary had in fact arranged the assasination of lord Darnley and she was asked to abdicate the Scottish throne. Seeking asylum from her problems in England lead to  18 years of house arrest  by Elizabeth I of England.

In England Mary was ultimately accused and tried for treasonous activities against the throne of England and beheaded on Feb. 8th 1587 .

Her execution caused an absolute outrage throughout Catholic Europe.  The invasion of the Spanish Armada in 1588 by Philip II of Spain  was motivated partially to avenge her death and its goal was to depose Elizabeth I and return the throne of England to the Catholic Church, however the Spanish Armada itself failed in its mission. 

It is important to note that the plan to launch the Spanish Armada may have in fact been influenced by Catherine of France Mary's mother in law by her first marriage to Francis II of France. Catherine's daughter was married to Phillip II of Spain at the time the Armada was launched. Following the Spanish invasion attempts the Catholic Church's claim of ascendancy to the throne of England was to be dealt with much more severity by the authorities of the English Crown and the Anglican Church. This policy of the English Crown lead directly to formal patronage of the protestant reformation in England.

The Protagonists

Elizabeth I  portrait dating 1585

1585 Portrait of Mary during her captivity
by Francois Clouet

Perhaps the most famous image of Mary, it was painted during her imprisonment in England. The artist is Nicholas Hilliard. This image was copied frequently during the reign of her son King James I of England and the Patron who published the King James Version of the Bible.  

 Mary's son King James VI of Scotland (James I of England) became a convert to the game of golf before he acceded to the English throne as James I in 1603.

Sculpture by Chester Comstock dated 1986 

Mary Queen of Scots contemplating a Golf ball as if it were a globe. 
Trophy Proposed for the International at Castle Pines Golf Club

About the Art

The above sculpture was created and submitted  by Chester Comstock to the selection committee as a conceptual for the first place trophy for the International, a PGA tour event held at Castle Pines Golf Club in Castle Rock Colorado.

The sculpture was designed to convey the concept of the expansion of golf from its earliest origins in Scotland, to its truly International Status as a gentleman's sport.

During Mary's interment in England Sir Francis Drake had just circumnavigated the globe in the Golden Hind. This is an event that Mary surely had news of and which sparked global ambitions of Empire for the rulers of England.

The sculpture shows Mary contemplating a golf ball as if it were a globe, artistically suggesting her inner desire for the expansion of her personal dominion, the promise of which plunged her into direct political conflict with her cousin Queen Elizabeth I of England.

Although Mary's political aspirations lead directly to the turmoil which ultimately endangered and ended her life, her promotion of and favor for the game of golf is now truly shared Internationally.

For additional historical background on 16 and 17 the century Globalization of trade visit these pages:

The life and times of St. Francis Xavier, 1512- 1552
Page: 1

Xavier meets Otomo Sorin the King of Bungo,1550
Page: 2

William Adams arrives in Japan, 1600
Page: 3

The Epic Journey of Hasekura Tsunenaga, 1613-1620 Page: 4

James I king of England (1603-1625) and his personal correspondence with Tokugawa Ieyasu Shogun of Japan 1600-1616
Page: 5

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