Mary Stuart’s M Necklaces

Mary Stuart with M necklace, by Nicholas Hilliard, 1570s

In 1578 a state portrait was made (by Nicholas Hilliard or his workshop) of Mary Queen of Scots holding a rosary and wearing a chain with a crucifix on her breast. An inscription tells us that the portrait was painted to mark the exiled queen’s 10 years of imprisonment by her cousin, Queen Elizabeth of England. Several versions and copies of this painting are in existence, and there are also a few miniatures, one of which may have served as the original from which the original of the larger versions was painted.

Mary Stuart with another M necklace, detail from a full-length portrait by Nicholas Hilliard, 1578

In the miniatures Mary is wearing a necklace with a centrally suspended M. In some of the larger full-length portraits she is wearing a similar necklace, only that this one is made of slightly smaller suspended Ms alternating with another type of pendant.

Mary Queen of Scots after ten years of captivity, in 1578, by Nicholas Hilliard

About Christine Hartweg

Hi, I'm the author of "Amy Robsart: A Life and Its End" and "John Dudley: The Life of Lady Jane Grey's Father-in-Law". I blog at
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