Mary Queen of Scots' prayer book goes up for auction

A 16th Century prayer book gifted to Mary Queen of Scots and signed by the doomed monarch is to go up for auction this summer with an estimated sale price of up to £350,000

The prayer book  gifted to Mary Queen of Scots is expected to fetch between £250,000 - £300,000 when it goes up for auction in July.  PIC: Christie's Images Ltd 2020.
The prayer book gifted to Mary Queen of Scots is expected to fetch between £250,000 - £300,000 when it goes up for auction in July. PIC: Christie's Images Ltd 2020.

Highly illuminated and decorated with 40 miniature paintings, the book has been put to sale by a European collector will go under the hammer at Christie’s in July.

The manuscript was given to Mary by her great aunt, Louise de Bourbon, Abbess of Fontevraud, sometime between 1558 and 1561.

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Mary left a signed token of their mutual affection on one of the endleaves, along with her monogram and motto.

The prayer book is marked by Mary Queen of Scots' motto and monogram. PIC: Christie's Images Ltd 2020.

Christie’s said the sale presented a “fleetingly rare opportunity” to acquire a very limited number of manuscripts that have a direct connection to the queen.

Eugenio Donadoni, Christie’s Specialist in Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts, London, said: “This is a fleetingly rare opportunity to acquire a lavishly illustrated royal prayer book that was owned and affectionately inscribed by one of the most intriguing figures in Scottish and European history: Mary Stuart, at a time when the Queen of Scots had already become Queen of France and was soon to meet her tragic fate.”

The manuscript was gifted to Mary, the only surviving legitimate child of James V who took the Scottish throne aged just six days old, shortly after she married the Dauphin of France in 1558. He died two years later.

A widow aged 18, she returned to Scotland, arriving in Leith on August 19, 1561.

The prayer book, written in French and Latin and printed on vellum, contains 40 miniature paintings. PIC: Christie's Images Ltd 2020.
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It is believed the prayer book, written in Latin and French and printed on vellum, was carried with her on that journey.

The rest of her life was punctuated by the murder of her second husband, imprisonment at Loch Leven Castle, abdication and then ultimately her beheading after being accused of plotting the assassination of her cousin, Elizabeth I.

The prayer book will be sold at Christie’s Classic Week’s Old Master Group Evening Sale on July 29.

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