A RARE manuscript signed by Mary, Queen of Scots before her execution is to be the star attraction at an American auction.
Mary signed the document relating to part of an estate in France where one of the most notorious massacres in the country’s history took place.
The document is expected to fetch up to £12,000.
She had been left in the walled city of Wassy, in eastern Champagne, following the death of her first husband in 1560.
It was left under the charge of her uncle, Francis, Duke of Guise, the brother of her mother Mary.
He was in charge of a platoon responsible of the slaying of more than 60 Protestant worshippers in a barn in Wassy in north-east France on 1562.
The incident sent shockwaves across Europe and triggered the French Wars of Religion, which lasted almost 40 years.
Mary had been held captive for 18 years – on the orders of her cousin and fellow monarch Elizabeth I – and by the time she signed the document on 30 April 1586, she was being held at Chartley Castle, in Staffordshire.
Ten months later, she was beheaded.
It is expected to attract interest from around the world when it goes under the hammer at the two-day “Remarkable Rarity Auction” in Boston on 18 September, the day of Scotland’s independence referendum.
The document effectively handed control of the castle at Wassy to Jacques de la Montaigne, a close aide of Francis, Duke of Guise. It is thought Montaigne would have been present at the massacre.
The one-page document, written in French, states that the “captaincy” of the castle be passed to Montaigne on the recommendation of Henri, the son of Francis, who himself was assassinated in 1563.
Although the seller of the document has not been identified, it is understood to have been in the hands of a private collector in Europe in recent years. However, it is known to have been on display in London as part of an 1888 exhibition devoted to the Stuart dynasty.
RR Auction executive vice-president Bobby Livingston said: “When we saw it, we were really thrilled. It’s signed so close to her execution – she’s already been imprisoned and is awaiting her fate. Our estimate is 20,000 US dollars (£12,000) but I wouldn’t be surprised if the price exceeds this.”
A spokesman for the auctioneers added: “In 1560, Mary had been granted the right to the profits of Wassy, located in eastern Champagne, as part of her jointure as widow of the recently deceased French King Francis II, and the rights were being managed on her behalf by her uncle Francis, Duke of Guise.
“In 1562, Wassy was the site of a massacre of Huguenots (members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France) by troops under Francis, and sparked the bloody French Wars of Religion.”
Mary, the only daughter of James V, King of Scots and his French wife Mary, became Queen of Scots at only six days of age. She reigned from 1542 until her forced abdication in 1567.
After 19 years as a prisoner of Elizabeth I, she was executed on 8 February 1587 after she was tricked into agreeing to a plot to assassinate the English queen.