Charged with conspiracy to commit regicide against England’s queen, her cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots, is held captive in Fotheringhay Castle, where she now awaits her verdict. The nephew to her guardian in this English castle, Mortimer brings news to Mary that the court’s decision is concluded: she is guilty of treason. He reveals to Mary his secret conversion to Catholicism and his allegiance to her. Mary entrusts the young man with two letters: one, addressed to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester—Elizabeth’s beloved favorite and lifelong friend; the second, to her cousin Elizabeth, Queen of England, requesting audience with her.
Upon reading the letter, Elizabeth asks Mortimer to assume responsibility for the Scottish queen’s death, and he gives his consent. Receiving Mary’s letter, Leicester privately confesses that he too supports the Scottish queen, then urges Elizabeth to accept her cousin’s request for a meeting between them. Upon Leicester’s advice, the next day Elizabeth and her retinue sets out to Fotheringhay for the fateful meeting of two queens, both determined to live and to rule.
—Brooke Sutter, a graduate of Loyola University, researched and wrote teaching resources for Mary Stuart as an intern with CST’s Education Department.