Mary Queen of Scots and the Murder of David Rizzio

The Freelance History Writer

David Rizzio, National Portrait Gallery David Rizzio, National Portrait Gallery

The murder of David Rizzio, personal secretary of Mary Queen of Scots, in my mind is one of the most dramatic moments in Scottish history, if not all history. Rizzio was born in 1533 in Pancalieri in the duchy of Savoy, the son of a poor musician. He had a beautiful singing voice and was in the employ of the archbishop of Turin before he made his way to the court of the duke of Savoy in Nice and a position as secretary to the duke’s ambassador, the Marquess of Moretto. In the fall of 1561, they travelled to Scotland. The Marquess was impressed with Rizzio’s musical talents and encouraged him to seek a job at the Scottish court.

Mary, Queen of Scots was an expert musician herself and just happened to be looking for a bass to sing in a quartet of French…

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