Noble Beasts

The “Noble Beasts” paintings explore the symbolic relationships between historical leaders and animals using zoomorphic transformation of classic portraiture. 

“Lionheart” 24x36 oil on canvas.  King Richard I (1157-1199), also known as Richard the Lionheart, ruled England for 10 years, but only spent six months of that time in his country. For the majority of his reign, Richard was off fighting the crusades. His most famous battle was the battle for the Holy Land, where he is said to have fought valiantly against Saladin (though many believe he never actually met Saladin). His prowess in war earned him the name "Lionheart.” Though he was a hero to Christians and the English, King Richard was likewise a terror to Jews and Muslims.  The male lion's primary job is to patrol and protect their territory. Indeed, King Richard took his territory in hand, usurping his father, and fought not only to rule England but to spread the Christian faith wherever his sword would reach.  Unlike the male lion, who is known to be affectionate and loyal to his pride, it would seem that Richard was most concerned with war and conquest. It is said that he even jokingly proclaimed that he would sell London if he could.  Richard found his end when one of his own soldiers shot him with a crossbow, as revenge for killing his family.  Painting inspired by the 19th-century portrait of Richard the Lionheart by Merry-Joseph Blondel.

“Lionheart” 24x36 oil on canvas.

King Richard I (1157-1199), also known as Richard the Lionheart, ruled England for 10 years, but only spent six months of that time in his country. For the majority of his reign, Richard was off fighting the crusades. His most famous battle was the battle for the Holy Land, where he is said to have fought valiantly against Saladin (though many believe he never actually met Saladin). His prowess in war earned him the name "Lionheart.” Though he was a hero to Christians and the English, King Richard was likewise a terror to Jews and Muslims.

The male lion's primary job is to patrol and protect their territory. Indeed, King Richard took his territory in hand, usurping his father, and fought not only to rule England but to spread the Christian faith wherever his sword would reach.

Unlike the male lion, who is known to be affectionate and loyal to his pride, it would seem that Richard was most concerned with war and conquest. It is said that he even jokingly proclaimed that he would sell London if he could.

Richard found his end when one of his own soldiers shot him with a crossbow, as revenge for killing his family.

Painting inspired by the 19th-century portrait of Richard the Lionheart by Merry-Joseph Blondel.

“The Warlock of the Rhine” 11x14 Oil on Canvas.  Prince Rupert of the Rhine (1619-1682) was a German Prince and the nephew of Charles I of England. He had a notable military career which began at the tender age of 14. He is most remembered as a Royalist commander during the English Civil War.  Rupert had a sardonic wit and frank disposition that earned him many enemies during the war. He had a reputation for being a particularly ruthless commander but the jury is still out on whether his reputation was earned or manufactured by his enemies. He is said to have burned several cities to the ground on a whim and was accused of executing prisoners of war as a means of “negotiation.” There were also many accusations of witchcraft propagated by the Parliamentarians.  Rupert’s pet poodle “Boy” accompanied him everywhere from 1642 until the time of its death. The dog was widely suspected of being the prince’s familiar. It was said that the dog was a shapeshifter, that it could find hidden treasure, was invulnerable to attack, and that it could catch bullets in its mouth.  Painting inspired by “Prince Rupert Portrayed in Roman Garb” artist unknown, date unknown (probably 1640s).

“The Warlock of the Rhine” 11x14 Oil on Canvas.

Prince Rupert of the Rhine (1619-1682) was a German Prince and the nephew of Charles I of England. He had a notable military career which began at the tender age of 14. He is most remembered as a Royalist commander during the English Civil War.

Rupert had a sardonic wit and frank disposition that earned him many enemies during the war. He had a reputation for being a particularly ruthless commander but the jury is still out on whether his reputation was earned or manufactured by his enemies. He is said to have burned several cities to the ground on a whim and was accused of executing prisoners of war as a means of “negotiation.” There were also many accusations of witchcraft propagated by the Parliamentarians.

Rupert’s pet poodle “Boy” accompanied him everywhere from 1642 until the time of its death. The dog was widely suspected of being the prince’s familiar. It was said that the dog was a shapeshifter, that it could find hidden treasure, was invulnerable to attack, and that it could catch bullets in its mouth.

Painting inspired by “Prince Rupert Portrayed in Roman Garb” artist unknown, date unknown (probably 1640s).

“Master of the Horse” 24x30 oil on canvas.  Robert Dudley (1532-1588) was the son of the Duke of Northumberland who famously failed to prevent the accession of Mary I of England. Things looked bleak for young Robert until he proved himself loyal to Mary by fighting for her Husband Phillip in the Battle of St. Quentin. A few years later, the once fallen noble began a meteoric rise to fame once Elizabeth I took power.  It was no secret that the handsome Robert Dudley was a favorite of the new Queen. On Elizabeth’s accession day Dudley was appointed Master of the Horse. Four years later in 1562 he became a privy councilor, in 1564 he became Earl of Leicester, and then in 1587 Lord Steward of the Royal Household. In 1588 Dudley was overall command for the ground forces fighting the Spanish Armada.  Dudley was one of the greatest landowners in England in terms of royal grants at the time. Dudley spread his wealth about rather liberally and was involved in many large scale business ventures including the backing of Sir Francis Drake, the privateer who made it his hobby to rob Spanish treasure ships.  But Dudley’s fame went far beyond his titles and wealth. There were also numerous scandals involving his relationship with Elizabeth. When his first wife died falling down a flight of stairs, rumors abounded that he had arranged her death so that he could marry the Queen. Dudley briefly courted Elizabeth after his wife’s death but the scandal was too much to overcome. When he remarried eighteen years later his new wife was banned from court by a jealous Elizabeth.  There are many speculations about both Dudley’s relationship to Elizabeth as well as his true intentions as a courtier. There was even a book that circulated called “Leicester’s Commonwealth” that attacked Dudley and called him an amoral opportunist. Undoubtedly, this pamphlet was Roman Catholic propaganda against Dudley who became a puritan sympathizer after Elizabeth rose to power.  Painting inspired by the “Portrait of Robert Dudley” attributed to Steven Van der Meulen (1564) but possibly by another artist.

“Master of the Horse” 24x30 oil on canvas.

Robert Dudley (1532-1588) was the son of the Duke of Northumberland who famously failed to prevent the accession of Mary I of England. Things looked bleak for young Robert until he proved himself loyal to Mary by fighting for her Husband Phillip in the Battle of St. Quentin. A few years later, the once fallen noble began a meteoric rise to fame once Elizabeth I took power.

It was no secret that the handsome Robert Dudley was a favorite of the new Queen. On Elizabeth’s accession day Dudley was appointed Master of the Horse. Four years later in 1562 he became a privy councilor, in 1564 he became Earl of Leicester, and then in 1587 Lord Steward of the Royal Household. In 1588 Dudley was overall command for the ground forces fighting the Spanish Armada.

Dudley was one of the greatest landowners in England in terms of royal grants at the time. Dudley spread his wealth about rather liberally and was involved in many large scale business ventures including the backing of Sir Francis Drake, the privateer who made it his hobby to rob Spanish treasure ships.

But Dudley’s fame went far beyond his titles and wealth. There were also numerous scandals involving his relationship with Elizabeth. When his first wife died falling down a flight of stairs, rumors abounded that he had arranged her death so that he could marry the Queen. Dudley briefly courted Elizabeth after his wife’s death but the scandal was too much to overcome. When he remarried eighteen years later his new wife was banned from court by a jealous Elizabeth.

There are many speculations about both Dudley’s relationship to Elizabeth as well as his true intentions as a courtier. There was even a book that circulated called “Leicester’s Commonwealth” that attacked Dudley and called him an amoral opportunist. Undoubtedly, this pamphlet was Roman Catholic propaganda against Dudley who became a puritan sympathizer after Elizabeth rose to power.

Painting inspired by the “Portrait of Robert Dudley” attributed to Steven Van der Meulen (1564) but possibly by another artist.

“The Bull of the Papacy” 11x14 oil on canvas.  Pope Alexander Vl (1431-1503) was a controversial Renaissance pope. He fathered at least eight children, four of which he openly acknowledged as his own. He was said to be a handsome, charming, and genial man with a great appreciation for the arts and sciences.  Alexander was a Borgia and many thought him to be a libertine, or devoid of moral principal, because of his sexual exploits and other alleged crimes. During his time the Borgia name became synonymous with libertinism and murder but this was possibly due more to a rivalry with the Medici family and others, and propaganda that resulted from that, rather than any real wrong doing (besides the sexual exploits, those definitely happened).  The bull appears on the House of Borgia family crest. Appropriately, Alexander was famous for issuing the “Papal Bulls” (a public decree issued by a pope, granting rights and privileges), that confirmed the rights of the Spanish Crown in the New World following the finds of Christopher Columbus.  Alexander was also known for setting into motion many church reforms including stricter moral code for the clergy and for writing papal bulls that encouraged education. He also distinguished himself by being relatively benign on the issues of Jews and Slaves. It is possible that he even offered refuge to Jews expelled from Spain and Portugal in the late 1400s.  Pope Alexander was despised by many, presumably for his libertinism, but it is also interesting to question if he was simply disliked because of his liberal viewpoints. The layers of intrigue and misinformation surrounding powerful figures always clouds the facts, making it difficult to distinguish reality from fiction.  Painting inspired by the Portrait of Pope Alexander Vl by Cristofano dell’Altissimo (1525-1605).

“The Bull of the Papacy” 11x14 oil on canvas.

Pope Alexander Vl (1431-1503) was a controversial Renaissance pope. He fathered at least eight children, four of which he openly acknowledged as his own. He was said to be a handsome, charming, and genial man with a great appreciation for the arts and sciences.

Alexander was a Borgia and many thought him to be a libertine, or devoid of moral principal, because of his sexual exploits and other alleged crimes. During his time the Borgia name became synonymous with libertinism and murder but this was possibly due more to a rivalry with the Medici family and others, and propaganda that resulted from that, rather than any real wrong doing (besides the sexual exploits, those definitely happened).

The bull appears on the House of Borgia family crest. Appropriately, Alexander was famous for issuing the “Papal Bulls” (a public decree issued by a pope, granting rights and privileges), that confirmed the rights of the Spanish Crown in the New World following the finds of Christopher Columbus.

Alexander was also known for setting into motion many church reforms including stricter moral code for the clergy and for writing papal bulls that encouraged education. He also distinguished himself by being relatively benign on the issues of Jews and Slaves. It is possible that he even offered refuge to Jews expelled from Spain and Portugal in the late 1400s.

Pope Alexander was despised by many, presumably for his libertinism, but it is also interesting to question if he was simply disliked because of his liberal viewpoints. The layers of intrigue and misinformation surrounding powerful figures always clouds the facts, making it difficult to distinguish reality from fiction.

Painting inspired by the Portrait of Pope Alexander Vl by Cristofano dell’Altissimo (1525-1605).

"The Maid of Orleans" 24x36 oil on canvas.  Joan of Arc (1412-1431), also known as "The Maid of Orleans," was born a peasant. Her family lived in an isolated area of Eastern France that remained loyal to the French crown during the 100 years war. At 16 Joan claimed to have seen holy visions, instructing her to support Charles Vll of France and help defeat the English. So Joan set out to get an audience with the King and convince him that she could help save France. She succeeded in getting her audience and managed to become a figurehead of the French forces.  It is absolutely astonishing to me that a 16 year old illiterate farm girl was not only able to convince a monarch that God spoke to her, she was able to convince an entire army that God was on their side when she rode with them. Indeed the tide began to turn for the French when Joan came on the scene. For they believed they now had God on their side.  The English despised Joan, it is said that English soldiers would shout "go back to your cows!" with great vitriol when they saw her with her flag on the battlefield. When the English captured Joan in 1430 they set their minds to having her executed. They attempted to charge her with Heresy, but she was suprisingly shrewd in the face of their inquisitions.  The court became frustrated and settled on a cross-dressing charge. Joan had chosen to dress in men's clothing, presumably to protect herself from men. At the time this was an executionable offense. So Joan was burned at the stake and then burned twice more to prove that she was no holy woman. She was 19.  It is interesting to speculate about Joan. Some scholars now say she might have been epileptic or schizophernic. She was prone to outbursts and visions. Things that could be explained away by modern medicine.  Regardless, Joan, a teenage girl who couldn't read or write, a humble girl indeed, managed to convince a king and an entire army that she was a messenger of God. And that's pretty impressive, regardless of her mental state. Painting inspired by "Joan of Arc" by Albert Lynch (1851-1912).

"The Maid of Orleans" 24x36 oil on canvas.

Joan of Arc (1412-1431), also known as "The Maid of Orleans," was born a peasant. Her family lived in an isolated area of Eastern France that remained loyal to the French crown during the 100 years war. At 16 Joan claimed to have seen holy visions, instructing her to support Charles Vll of France and help defeat the English. So Joan set out to get an audience with the King and convince him that she could help save France. She succeeded in getting her audience and managed to become a figurehead of the French forces.

It is absolutely astonishing to me that a 16 year old illiterate farm girl was not only able to convince a monarch that God spoke to her, she was able to convince an entire army that God was on their side when she rode with them. Indeed the tide began to turn for the French when Joan came on the scene. For they believed they now had God on their side.

The English despised Joan, it is said that English soldiers would shout "go back to your cows!" with great vitriol when they saw her with her flag on the battlefield. When the English captured Joan in 1430 they set their minds to having her executed. They attempted to charge her with Heresy, but she was suprisingly shrewd in the face of their inquisitions.

The court became frustrated and settled on a cross-dressing charge. Joan had chosen to dress in men's clothing, presumably to protect herself from men. At the time this was an executionable offense. So Joan was burned at the stake and then burned twice more to prove that she was no holy woman. She was 19.

It is interesting to speculate about Joan. Some scholars now say she might have been epileptic or schizophernic. She was prone to outbursts and visions. Things that could be explained away by modern medicine.

Regardless, Joan, a teenage girl who couldn't read or write, a humble girl indeed, managed to convince a king and an entire army that she was a messenger of God. And that's pretty impressive, regardless of her mental state.
Painting inspired by "Joan of Arc" by Albert Lynch (1851-1912).

"The Queen of Sacrifice" 24x30 Oil on Canvas. (Originally created for the “Birds of War” series.  In her portraits Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603) wears all the trappings of royalty--but these decorations are more than just for show. Every stitch and jewel is symbolic. Elizabethan propoganda. Tudor roses decorate the fabric to prove her connection to the Tudors. Pearls symbolize purity. Red, black, white, and gold, prove her wealth and status. Crosses show her connection to God (she was convinced she had a direct line). And, often, a pelican appears on or around her person.  The pelican symbolizes her selfless love for her people, a mother’s love, because, according to legend, a female pelican would pluck her own breast to feed her dying young with her own blood. The pelican was also a symbol, in the Middle Ages, of Jesus’ crucifixion, the ultimate sacrifice, and of the Eucharist. The bird to represent the queen, then, was an easy choice.  However, the choice of the Queen to represent England was not always so easy. Elizabeth’s mother, Anne Boleyn, was famously beheaded and her marriage to King Henry VIII annulled. Elizabeth was the last of Henry’s line remaining after her elder sister Mary Tudor died. But many proclaimed that, because of Elizabeth’s illegitimacy that her distant cousin Mary Stuart was the true heir to the throne.  In the midst of all these legitimacy claims there was the larger problem of religion. Elizabeth was a Protestant and Mary a Catholic. Religious wars were boiling all over Europe and the ruler of the British Empire was a big prize.  In the end, as you may already know, Elizabeth won the prize. Ultimately this win was due to her council of advisors that ran the Elizabethan propaganda machine. Every downfall they turned into a win. The childless illegitimate bastard transformed into a virgin queen chosen by God. Voila. The moral of this story is: always keep good council.  Painting inspired by "Queen Elizabeth I in Coronation Robes" Unknown Artist, 1600.

"The Queen of Sacrifice" 24x30 Oil on Canvas. (Originally created for the “Birds of War” series.

In her portraits Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603) wears all the trappings of royalty--but these decorations are more than just for show. Every stitch and jewel is symbolic. Elizabethan propoganda. Tudor roses decorate the fabric to prove her connection to the Tudors. Pearls symbolize purity. Red, black, white, and gold, prove her wealth and status. Crosses show her connection to God (she was convinced she had a direct line). And, often, a pelican appears on or around her person.

The pelican symbolizes her selfless love for her people, a mother’s love, because, according to legend, a female pelican would pluck her own breast to feed her dying young with her own blood. The pelican was also a symbol, in the Middle Ages, of Jesus’ crucifixion, the ultimate sacrifice, and of the Eucharist. The bird to represent the queen, then, was an easy choice.

However, the choice of the Queen to represent England was not always so easy. Elizabeth’s mother, Anne Boleyn, was famously beheaded and her marriage to King Henry VIII annulled. Elizabeth was the last of Henry’s line remaining after her elder sister Mary Tudor died. But many proclaimed that, because of Elizabeth’s illegitimacy that her distant cousin Mary Stuart was the true heir to the throne.

In the midst of all these legitimacy claims there was the larger problem of religion. Elizabeth was a Protestant and Mary a Catholic. Religious wars were boiling all over Europe and the ruler of the British Empire was a big prize.

In the end, as you may already know, Elizabeth won the prize. Ultimately this win was due to her council of advisors that ran the Elizabethan propaganda machine. Every downfall they turned into a win. The childless illegitimate bastard transformed into a virgin queen chosen by God. Voila. The moral of this story is: always keep good council.

Painting inspired by "Queen Elizabeth I in Coronation Robes" Unknown Artist, 1600.

“The First Wife” 11x14 oil on canvas.  Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536) was the first wife of Henry VIII and Queen of England until she was usurped by the young Anne Boleyn in 1533. Catherine was the mother of Mary Tudor, the future Mary I of England, but produced no male heirs, a fact that dissatisfied Henry. Henry hoped to have their marriage annulled but the church refused. The refusal set about a chain of events that led to England breaking with the Catholic church.  The youngest child of Ferdinand II and Isabella I, Catherine’s education began in Madrid where she was born. She studied everything from arithmetic to theology. At a very young age Catherine was considered to be a suitable wife to the heir apparent to the English throne (at the time this was Arthur Prince of Wales), due to her own English ancestry. The alliance was meant to strengthen the Tudor claim to the throne. At the tender age of 15 Catherine was married to Arthur and then widowed only a year later.  After Arthur died there was some question about whether the English wanted to keep Catherine around. Spain had become rather unstable after the death of Isabella I. The bright girl was basically treated like a prisoner by the English until it was decided that she would marry Henry, Duke of York, who would eventually become Henry VIII.  As Queen, Catherine became increasingly outspoken and increasingly religious. She was known for being an inspirational speaker and an altruistic Queen. She fought for women’s rights and started an extensive relief program for the poor. Her dedication to education also blossomed as she aged. As the marriage wore on, and Catherine did not produce a male heir, Henry became convinced that the marriage was cursed, and Catherine once again became a sort of prisoner in her own home until she eventually was exiled. Soon after she died under suspicious circumstances.  Obviously, Catherine did not have a good time in England. One of her comforts, besides her studies and prayers, was a marmoset. Henry had an extensive menagerie but the marmoset won Catherine’s heart, as it reminded her of the monkeys from her homeland. Just like her, the marmoset was a stranger in a strange land, kept caged and bound. Legend has it, that after Catherine was exiled Henry gave the marmoset to Anne Boylen, who called it a disgusting creature.  Painting inspired by “Catherine of Aragon” attributed to Joannes Corvus (1544).

“The First Wife” 11x14 oil on canvas.

Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536) was the first wife of Henry VIII and Queen of England until she was usurped by the young Anne Boleyn in 1533. Catherine was the mother of Mary Tudor, the future Mary I of England, but produced no male heirs, a fact that dissatisfied Henry. Henry hoped to have their marriage annulled but the church refused. The refusal set about a chain of events that led to England breaking with the Catholic church.

The youngest child of Ferdinand II and Isabella I, Catherine’s education began in Madrid where she was born. She studied everything from arithmetic to theology. At a very young age Catherine was considered to be a suitable wife to the heir apparent to the English throne (at the time this was Arthur Prince of Wales), due to her own English ancestry. The alliance was meant to strengthen the Tudor claim to the throne. At the tender age of 15 Catherine was married to Arthur and then widowed only a year later.

After Arthur died there was some question about whether the English wanted to keep Catherine around. Spain had become rather unstable after the death of Isabella I. The bright girl was basically treated like a prisoner by the English until it was decided that she would marry Henry, Duke of York, who would eventually become Henry VIII.

As Queen, Catherine became increasingly outspoken and increasingly religious. She was known for being an inspirational speaker and an altruistic Queen. She fought for women’s rights and started an extensive relief program for the poor. Her dedication to education also blossomed as she aged. As the marriage wore on, and Catherine did not produce a male heir, Henry became convinced that the marriage was cursed, and Catherine once again became a sort of prisoner in her own home until she eventually was exiled. Soon after she died under suspicious circumstances.

Obviously, Catherine did not have a good time in England. One of her comforts, besides her studies and prayers, was a marmoset. Henry had an extensive menagerie but the marmoset won Catherine’s heart, as it reminded her of the monkeys from her homeland. Just like her, the marmoset was a stranger in a strange land, kept caged and bound. Legend has it, that after Catherine was exiled Henry gave the marmoset to Anne Boylen, who called it a disgusting creature.

Painting inspired by “Catherine of Aragon” attributed to Joannes Corvus (1544).

“The Queen of Evil Fortune” 11x14 oil on canvas.  Mary Stuart (1542-1587), known as Mary Queen of Scots, was the Queen of Scotland from 1542-1567. Mary became Queen at only six days old after her father King James V died. At the age of six months Mary was promised to her distant cousin Edward (the son of Henry VIII) but that treaty was dissolved after Henry VIII had a spat with Cardinal Beaton and the French. Mary being both Catholic and half French, was no longer a suitable bride for Edward. So, at five Mary was whisked away to France for her safety and to be groomed as the bride of the Dauphin of France. Scotland was left in the hands of Regents during young Mary’s absence.  Catholic Mary’s marriage to the Dauphin of France created an alliance with the French crown and was meant to give Scotland protection against the rising protestant rebellion in England and Scotland. When Mary I of England (Mary Tudor) died, Henry II of France proclaimed that his Mary (Mary Stuart) was the rightful heir to the English throne, being the closest legitimate blood relative to Henry VIII. However, the protestants of England were behind Elizabeth I, who was the last surviving child of Henry VIII of England. Anyways, that’s the simple version of the story.  Things went even further south from there for Mary Stuart. The Dauphin of France died in 1560 and Mary returned to Scotland where a dangerous and complex religious civil war was raging. Mary had trouble finding footing in her homeland and eventually was forced to escape. She was then captured by the English and imprisoned.  Over the next year a whole lot of crazy stuff happened—the end result being that the English thought it best to execute Mary. Legend has it that during this time Mary’s constant companion was a Skye Terrier. Supposedly the little dog followed Mary to the execution block and laid at her feet as she was beheaded. The very next day that dog died of a broken heart.  The examination of Mary’s character and legacy after her death continues to be split primarily along Catholic/Protestant lines. By many accounts she was a ruthless conspiratorial woman but many Catholic apologists cite her “evil fortunes” rather than her “evil deeds.” Her dog, however, supposedly loved her enough to die of heartbreak, regardless of who she was among the humans.  Painting inspired by the portrait of Mary Stuart by Francois Clouet (1558-1560).

“The Queen of Evil Fortune” 11x14 oil on canvas.

Mary Stuart (1542-1587), known as Mary Queen of Scots, was the Queen of Scotland from 1542-1567. Mary became Queen at only six days old after her father King James V died. At the age of six months Mary was promised to her distant cousin Edward (the son of Henry VIII) but that treaty was dissolved after Henry VIII had a spat with Cardinal Beaton and the French. Mary being both Catholic and half French, was no longer a suitable bride for Edward. So, at five Mary was whisked away to France for her safety and to be groomed as the bride of the Dauphin of France. Scotland was left in the hands of Regents during young Mary’s absence.

Catholic Mary’s marriage to the Dauphin of France created an alliance with the French crown and was meant to give Scotland protection against the rising protestant rebellion in England and Scotland. When Mary I of England (Mary Tudor) died, Henry II of France proclaimed that his Mary (Mary Stuart) was the rightful heir to the English throne, being the closest legitimate blood relative to Henry VIII. However, the protestants of England were behind Elizabeth I, who was the last surviving child of Henry VIII of England. Anyways, that’s the simple version of the story.

Things went even further south from there for Mary Stuart. The Dauphin of France died in 1560 and Mary returned to Scotland where a dangerous and complex religious civil war was raging. Mary had trouble finding footing in her homeland and eventually was forced to escape. She was then captured by the English and imprisoned.

Over the next year a whole lot of crazy stuff happened—the end result being that the English thought it best to execute Mary. Legend has it that during this time Mary’s constant companion was a Skye Terrier. Supposedly the little dog followed Mary to the execution block and laid at her feet as she was beheaded. The very next day that dog died of a broken heart.

The examination of Mary’s character and legacy after her death continues to be split primarily along Catholic/Protestant lines. By many accounts she was a ruthless conspiratorial woman but many Catholic apologists cite her “evil fortunes” rather than her “evil deeds.” Her dog, however, supposedly loved her enough to die of heartbreak, regardless of who she was among the humans.

Painting inspired by the portrait of Mary Stuart by Francois Clouet (1558-1560).