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Esmé Stuart, 1st duke of Lennox

Stuart or Stewart, Esmé, 1st duke of Lennox (ĕzˈmē) [key], 1542?–1583, Scottish nobleman; cousin to James VI of Scotland (later James I of England). Born and reared in France, he succeeded his father as seigneur d'Aubigny in 1567. In 1579 he was sent to Scotland by the Guise family to restore French influence and weaken Protestantism. He soon won the friendship of the young King James, was admitted to the council, and was created successively earl (1580) and duke (1581) of Lennox. Although Lennox publicly proclaimed his conversion to Protestantism in 1580, he was suspected (with reason) of complicity in a projected Spanish invasion of England to release Mary Queen of Scots. This, with Lennox's part in the arrest and execution (1581) of the earl of Morton, led to the Protestant nobles' seizure of James in the raid of Ruthven (1582). Against both his own and the king's wishes, Lennox was forced to leave Scotland. He died shortly thereafter.

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

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