The rift between Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots had been around before the Treaty of Edinburgh, but it certainly brought it into sharper focus. Many Catholics regarded Mary as the rightful Queen of England as she was the granddaughter of Margaret Tudor, Henry VIII’s sister. This made her a legitimate relative of Henry, whereas Elizabeth was illegitimate because his marriage to Anne Boleyn was not recognized by the Catholic Church. The terms of the marriage contract between Mary and the dauphin said the crowns of France and Scotland would be united for any children of the marriage, strengthening the Auld Alliance. If Mary could claim the throne of England as well, all the better. When Mary quartered the arms of England with Scotland and France, it did not go over well in England.
Mary was far from the controversy and living in sunny France with her young husband as the darling of the dazzling French court. Her mother, Marie of Guise, ruled as regent in Scotland and was struggling against Protestant insurrectionists. The Lords of the Congregation, as they called themselves, made the Treaty of Berwick in February 1560 for English help to drive out French Catholic troops defending Marie of Guise’s regency. This culminated in the Siege of Leith.
It seemed to be a stalemate until Marie of Guise died on June 11, 1560. With figurehead of Catholic resistance gone, the Lords of the Congregation moved quickly. The Treaty of Edinburgh was signed three short weeks after Marie of Guise’s death. It abolished the Auld Alliance between France and Scotland and replaced it with one between England and Scotland. Both French and English troops left Scotland and England and France returned to the peace established by the Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis. Mary and the dauphin were to cease and desist using the arms of England and give up their claim to the throne and recognize Elizabeth. The Lords of the Congregation nominated one of their own as regent for the absent Mary. They used this to consolidate their power. The “Reformation Parliament” established the Scottish Kirk, outlawed the Latin Mass and denied the authority of the Pope.
As reigning monarch, Mary never ratified this treaty. It became quite a sticking point between the two Queens as Elizabeth would not allow Mary on English soil on her way back to Scotland after her husband’s death in 1560. Elizabeth said “there would be no safe conduct and no welcome for the Queen of Scots in her cousin’s realm until she had fulfilled her obligations by ratifying the Treaty (of Edinburgh) as she was in honour bound to do.” Mary simply skipped England altogether and returned to Scotland by sea in 1561.
It was the first salvo in what would prove to be a long costly war between Queens.