Year 8

Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots

I can explain why Mary, Queen of Scots was executed.

Year 8

Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots

I can explain why Mary, Queen of Scots was executed.

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Lesson details

Key learning points

  1. Religious differences between the Catholic Mary and Presbytarian Scotland led to Mary having to flee the country.
  2. Mary Queen of Scots, a Catholic, was seen by many as the rightful heir to Elizabeth's throne.
  3. There were a number of plots to execute Elizabeth and replace her with Mary.
  4. Mary had been imprisoned from when she arrived in England.
  5. Mary was executed in 1587 for her role in the Babington Plot.

Common misconception

Mary, Queen of Scots and 'Bloody Mary' were the same person.

The two Marys were cousins, not the same person. Mary was a very common name at this time.


  • Plot - a plot is a secret plan to do something illegal or wrong

  • Execution - an execution is the act of carrying out a sentence of death as a form of punishment

  • Figurehead - a figurehead is a person who is in the position of leader but has no real power, or a person in whose name a movement is organised

  • Presbyterian - a Presbyterian is a type of Protestant who believes the Church should be governed by a group of Elders rather than bishops

  • Spymaster - a spymaster is the head of an organisation of spies

Encourage students to use specific examples in their balanced answer rather than general points.
Teacher tip

Content guidance

  • Contains subject matter which individuals may find upsetting.


Adult supervision suggested.


This content is © Oak National Academy Limited (2024), licensed on Open Government Licence version 3.0 except where otherwise stated. See Oak's terms & conditions (Collection 2).



6 Questions

What was the main form of Christianity in Europe before the Reformation?
Correct Answer: Catholicism, catholicism, Catholic, catholic, Roman Catholicism
Match the Tudor monarchs before Elizabeth to their religious beliefs.
Correct Answer:Henry VIII,was Catholic, switched to Protestant

was Catholic, switched to Protestant

Correct Answer:Edward VI,Protestant


Correct Answer:Mary I,Catholic


Write the word to fill the gap: Elizabeth's religious settlement was known as the Middle .....
Correct Answer: Way, way
Why was Elizabeth unhappy with the Puritans?
they publicly criticised her appearance
they launched a rebellion against her
they wanted to ban Protestantism
Correct answer: they wanted to ban Catholicism
In what year did Pope Pius V excommunicate Elizabeth?
Correct answer: 1570
What does 'excommunicate' mean?
to stop someone from talking
Correct answer: to ban someone from church services and the community
to make someone an object of ridicule
to publicly announce that you hate someone

6 Questions

Other than Scotland, what country was Mary, Queen of Scots the queen of for a short time?
Correct Answer: France, france
Why did Mary, Queen of Scots also have a claim to the English throne?
she was married to a member of the English royal family
she was named heir by Mary I
Correct answer: she was the great-granddaughter of Henry VII
What problem did Mary face when she returned to Scotland from France?
she didn't understand what people were saying as she only spoke French
nobody recognised her so they didn't believe it was really her
Correct answer: Scotland had changed its religion from Catholicism to Presbytarianism
another Scottish lord claimed that he was the rightful king of Scotland
In which order did Mary marry her three husbands? (note: the previous one had died before she married the next one)
1 - Francis II
2 - Lord Darnley
3 - Lord Bothwell
How did Elizabeth choose to deal with Mary, Queen of Scots when she came to England?
sent her back to Scotland
sent her off to France
Correct answer: imprisoned her
immediately executed her
What was the name of Elizabeth's spymaster who uncovered proof that Mary, Queen of Scots was plotting against Elizabeth?
Correct answer: Sir Francis Walsingham
Sir George Talbot
Sir William Cecil
Sir Robert Dudley
Sir Christopher Hatton

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