Friday, October 23rd, 2020 - Sunday, February 21st, 2021

Queens. Cousins. Rivals.

Step back into a dangerous world of plots, espionage and treachery to explore the turbulent relationship between Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots in their own words.

In an England and Scotland engulfed in religious turmoil and with civil wars raging on the continent, this major exhibition follows the storm that threatened these two powerful women as they struggled for control of the British Isles.

They never met but their fates were intertwined. From their shared beginnings, facing the challenge of ruling in a man’s world, feel the tension escalate as handwritten letters between the queens show how paranoia turned sisterly affection to suspicion. 

With the threat of conspiracy ever present, communications written in code reveal how Elizabeth used a network of spies to trap and destroy her rival, bringing the dramatic story to a swift and bloody conclusion.

Encounter some of the Library’s most exceptional 16th-century manuscripts and printed works on display: Elizabeth’s stirring ‘heart and stomach of a king’ speech; the papal bull excommunicating Elizabeth; Mary’s ten-page plea for freedom.

These sit alongside haunting objects which reveal the complex story behind the two queens’ reigns. Tales of imprisonment and escape. Elizabeth’s speech to Parliament on her cousin’s fate. Eye-witness accounts of Mary’s execution.

Enter the dark side of the 16th century. Meet the real Elizabeth and Mary.

09:30 - 18:00

PACCAR 1
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Kings Cross

London, UK

51.5299658, -0.12767340000005

Elizabeth and Mary