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James Hepburn Bothwell, 4th earl of

Bothwell, James Hepburn, 4th earl of (hĕˈbərn, bŏthˈwəl) [key], 1536?–1578, Scottish nobleman; third husband of Mary Queen of Scots. Though a Protestant, he was a strong partisan of the Catholic regent, Mary of Guise, mother of Mary Queen of Scots. In 1562, Bothwell's old enemy, James Hamilton, earl of Arran, accused Bothwell of proposing to kidnap the queen, and Bothwell was imprisoned. He escaped and started for France, but was imprisoned for a year by the English before he reached it. Mary recalled him in 1565 to help her put down the rebellion by the earl of Murray, her half-brother. In 1566, Mary's secretary, David Rizzio, was murdered by conspirators, among them her second husband, Lord Darnley. Thereafter she trusted only Bothwell and was with him constantly. In Feb., 1567, Darnley was murdered. Bothwell was undoubtedly responsible, but he was acquitted in a trial that was a judicial mockery. Shortly after the trial, Bothwell abducted Mary and, having divorced his wife, married the queen. The Scottish nobles now rose against Bothwell and forced Mary to give him up (June, 1567). He fled to Denmark, where he was imprisoned and died insane.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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