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Mary, Queen of Scots used ‘spiral locking’ method to protect secrecy of final letter earlier than her execution

Written by By Sana Noor Haq, CNN

Mary, Queen of Scots used a “spiral locking” method to seal the final letter she wrote earlier than her execution, indicating that she needed the contents to stay secret, in keeping with analysis revealed within the Electronic British Library Journal.

An instance of letterlocking — the place folks doubled letters as envelopes to make sure the safety of a doc — the fallen monarch used a spiral locking course of to seal a message that was “a final will and testomony and a bid for martyrdom,” the analysis revealed on Friday says.

Mary was shrouded in political controversy throughout her lifetime. She was subsequent in line to the throne after Henry VIII’s kids, and was focused by conspirators below the reign of her English cousin, Elizabeth I. Mary was interned for 19 years, after which she was executed on the age of 44, in keeping with the royal household web site.

‘Powerful and shifting’

Mary wrote the letter, which was addressed to her brother-in-law, Henry III of France, on the morning of her execution at Fotheringhay Castle in 1587, in keeping with the analysis.

She used a collection of intricate folding and slitting methods to shut the letter, which researchers describe as “one of the spectacular examples of spiral locking” within the article.

A “highly effective and shifting” testimony, the letter was possible folded by the monarch herself whereas she was in her jail cell. There are additionally blotches on the letter, which some historians recommend may very well be proof of Mary’s tears staining the paper, in keeping with the analysis.

Mary grew to become a political goal below the reign of Elizabeth I, and was executed on the age of 44. Credit: Universal History Archive/Getty Images

“Sire, my brother-in-law, having by God’s will, for my sins I feel, thrown myself into the facility of the Queen my cousin, at whose palms I’ve suffered a lot for nearly twenty years, I’ve lastly been condemned to demise by her and her Estates,” the letter reads, in keeping with an English translation within the National Library of Scotland.

“I’ve requested for my papers, which they’ve taken away, so that I would make my will, however I’ve been unable to get better something of use to me, and even get depart both to make my will freely or to have my physique conveyed after my demise, as I would want, to your kingdom the place I had the honour to be queen, your sister and previous ally,” the letter says.

“I’m to be executed like a prison at eight within the morning,” the letter provides.

As Mary didn’t have entry to most of her possessions on the time, together with her letter writing utensils, she would have needed to slit the letter utilizing an alternate blade — and was maybe aided by her ladies-in-waiting Jane Kennedy and Elizabeth Curle.


Mary used a spiral locking technique to seal the last letter she wrote before her execution.

Mary used a spiral locking method to seal the final letter she wrote earlier than her execution. Credit: National Library of Scotland/Unlocking History/British Library Journal

Letterlocking was used extensively all through early fashionable Europe, and was a necessary strategy of making certain the safety of letters earlier than mass-produced gummed envelopes have been manufactured within the Nineteenth-century.

It performed a vital position within the “historical past of secrecy techniques,” enabling “international correspondence within the early fashionable interval as basically as pc coding underpins digital communication right now,” the analysis paper says.

The analysis, which is a part of the Elizabeth and Mary: Royal Cousins, Rival Queens exhibition at London’s British Library, additionally divulges using spiral locking by different well-known European monarchs together with Queen Elizabeth I in 1573 and Catherine de’ Medici in 1570.
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