Francis Stewart Hepburn, 5th Earl of Bothwell


Francis Stewart Hepburn, 5th Earl of Bothwell

Francis Stewart, 5th Earl Bothwell (1562 - 1612) was a nephew of James Hepburn, the fourth Earl Bothwell, and a grandson of James V of Scotland. He became the earl in 1577.

Bothwell felt that the beheading of Mary Queen of Scots should result in an invasion of England, a course of action his cousin, the king disagreed with. He was imprisoned for his activities in trying to advance such a course of action.

He was accused of sorcery. Allegedly acting the part of Satan, at North Berwick Kirk during a Witches Sabbat. Although not forced to undergo the torture faced by his co-accused, during the North Berwick witch trials, Bothwell was jailed for the crime in 1591. He was stripped of his land and titles for this crime.

Upon his escape from Edinburgh Castle, in 1593, he attempted to capture the King at Holyrood Palace in a successful effort to make him promise to offer a pardon. Contemperaneously it was thought that Bothwell found King James in a compromising situation upon the royal privy. However, not long after having been pardoned Stewart reverted to his old ways and in 1595 he had to flee Scotland and seek refuge in France.

Bothwell died in 1612, in exile in Naples, Italy.


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