Captivity by Jade Scott
Captivity explores Mary Queen of Scots’ imprisonment from her flight to England in 1568 until her execution at Fotheringhay Castle in 1587. Using Mary Queen of Scots’ newly deciphered letters as a guide, Captivity highlights her personal struggles and shines new light on the twenty-year career of plots and schemes to secure her freedom. The letters from these years - especially the coded examples - reveal the lengths to which she went to secure support, even in the darkest times. Jade Scott, a historian and expert on Mary’s correspondence, interrogates Mary’s complex relationships with friends and enemies throughout her imprisonment, including the King Philip of Spain, the Duke of Guise, Francis Walsingham, and the ever-looming presence of Queen Elizabeth. Captivity illuminates Mary Queen of Scots’ strategic expertise, revealing through her letters how she used language and emotion to shape her own future, even during imprisonment.
Thanks to the efforts of the DECRYPT project led by George Lasry and his team, fifty-seven letters from Mary have been decoded for the first time since their composition over four-hundred years ago. The team developed a program to decrypt the codes used in these letters that were secretly smuggled out of her prison and sent to the French ambassador in London. Dating from 1578 to 1584, these newly decoded letters offer fascinating new insight into Mary’s years of captivity. We learn just how much she knew about the schemes to free her, including the Throckmorton Plot and Babington Plot, and most startling of all, these decoded letters confirm there was a mole feeding secrets to Mary’s enemies.
Michael O’Mara will publish Captivity in Spring 2025.