sewing in captivity
Bess of Hardwick
Many of Mary’s symbolic embroideries held emotional or political meaning. They conserved her memories, asserted her power and documented her conflicted relationship with the English queen.
Mary was to spend the next 19 years in captivity, 15 of them under the custodianship of the Earl of Shrewsbury and his wife, now known as Bess of Hardwick. The two women found a camaraderie in needlework and Mary, with her letters censored and visitors monitored, used her embroidery to script an unedited version of her story.
…she said that all day she wrought with her needle, and that the diversity of the colours made the work seem less tedious and continued at it so long till the very pain did make her give it over.
Report from Nicholas White, Elizabeth’s envoy, 1569