Mary Stuart. Drama by Friedrich Schiller, 1800.

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Queen Elizabeth I, Mary Stuart, England Tudor, Friedrich Schiller,
Queen Elizabeth and Mary Stuart. W. Kaulbach, Artist.

Elizabeth and Mary Stuart by Friedrich Schiller.

Mary Stuart is a classic drama by Friedrich Schiller. The tragedy in five acts was first performed at the Weimar Court Theater on June 14, 1800, with Friederike Vohs in the title role. A book edition was published in April 1801.

Storyline: In 1568, Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, is chased out of the country on suspicion of aiding in the murder of her husband and flees to England. She hopes for protection from Elizabeth I, the English queen. But she must fear for her crown, since Mary herself has claims to it. Therefore, Elizabeth has her captured and interned in a castle. The action of the play takes place 19 years later, three days before Mary’s execution.

Infatuated with Mary Stuart’s beauty, young men had repeatedly made attempts to free the Scottish woman. Young Mortimer also wants to save the incarcerated woman. He accepts an order from the queen to murder Stuart only as a pretense. He initiates the Count of Leicester into his plan, who himself loves Mary and is also Elizabeth’s lover. In his dilemma, the latter arranges a meeting of the queens at which Mary is to touch the heart of her rival.

When this comes about, however, Elizabeth only tries to humiliate the pleading Mary more deeply. She accuses her of hypocrisy and of having promoted all her husbands to the afterlife. Proudly, Mary also accuses her of hypocrisy: despite her exaggerated display of virtue (as a “virgin queen”), Elizabeth cannot conceal her lowly origins. Leicester’s attempt at reconciliation has thus divided the two rivals even more irreconcilably.

Note:  Sir Walter Raleigh and the New World. Founding of Roanoke.

An attempt on Elizabeth’s life fails and Mortimer stabs himself. He is unable to save Mary. To secure her throne, the queen wants to kill Mary. However, since she does not want to take the blame for Mary’s death and does not want to risk the loss of her good reputation, she signs the verdict but pushes the execution order to others. Mary Stuart is nevertheless executed. Elizabeth loses all her advisors.

Elizabeth and Mary Stuart.


“WOE to you, when in time to come, the world
Shall draw the robe of honor from your deeds.
With which thy arch-hypocrisy hath veiled
The raging flames of lawless, secret lust!
Virtue was not your portion from your mother;
Well knew we what it was which brought the head
Of Anne Boleyn to the sacred block.
* * * * Farewell,
Lamb-hearted resignation, passive patience!
Fly to thy native heaven; burst at length
Thy bond, come forward from thy dreary cave
In all thy fury, long-suppressed rancour!
And thou who to the anger’d basilisk
Impart’st the murderous glance, O, arm my tongue
With poisoned darts! * * *
* * * A bastard soil
Profanes the English throne. The gen’rous Britons
Are cheated by a juggler, whose whole figure
Is false and painted, heart as well as face.
If right prevailed, you would now in the dust
Before me lie, for I’m your rightful monarch”.

“Schiller’s” Mary Stuart. W. Kaulbach, Artist

Source: Character sketches of romance, fiction and the drama by Rev. Ebenezer Cobham Brewer, 1892. A revised American edition of the readers handbook. Edited by Marion Harland.

devils, riding, illustration

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