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Follow the turbulent story of the rivalry between Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots, from sisterly affection to suspicion, through to its violent conclusion.

Though they never actually met one another, the lives of Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots were dramatically intertwined, ultimately concluding in the latter’s historic imprisonment and execution. This exhibition will explore their entire relationship through their own handwritten letters, rare 16th-cenutry manuscripts, printed works and historic objects.

There will be dramatic tales of imprisonment and escape, accounts of Elizabeth’s speech to parliament sealing her cousin’s fate and of Mary’s execution, plus coded communication revealing how Elizabeth manipulated a network of spies to destroy her rival.

Though they will always be remembered as fierce adversaries, the two queens also share a lot of similarities, from their shared beginnings to their status as powerful women existing in a man’s world. Follow their struggle for control of the British Isles in a time of religious turmoil and raging civil wars, and step into the dangerous world of plots, espionage and treachery.

Books & manuscriptsPrints & drawingsPaintingLondonLibrary


British Library

96 Euston Road, London, Greater London, NW1 2DB

01937 546546

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Main building:
Mon-Thu 9.30am-8pm
Fri 9.30am-6pm
Sat 9.30am-5pm
Sun 11am-5pm

Treasures Gallery and PACCAR exhibitions:
Mon 9.30am-6pm
Tue 9.30am-8pm
Wed-Fri 9.30am-6pm
Sat 9.30am-5pm
Sun 11am-5pm

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