Who’s Who: David Rizzio

Before bed, Lewis reads Stoddard’s account of the murder of this member of the Scottish court [The House with a Clock in its Walls; 19].



David Rizzio (1533-66) was a native of Italy who rose to become the private secretary of Mary (1542-87), queen regnant of Scotland (1542-67). Considered a good musician and excellent singer, Rizzio was disliked by Mary's husband, Lord Darnley, because of rumors that he had impregnated Mary. Darnley later joined in a conspiracy of Protestant nobles to murder Rizzio, which led to the downfall of Darnley and had serious consequences for Mary's subsequent career. On March 9, 1656 Rizzio burst into the Queen’s chamber at the Palace of Holyroodhouse and hid behind her from the rebels. After a struggle, Rizzio was stabbed an alleged 56 times, before being thrown down the main staircase and stripped of his jewels and fine clothes.

Bellairs writes that “Stoddard compared Rizzio to a purple-velvet plum spurting plum juice in all directions.”
Contributor James Card, who tracked down and meticulously re-typed Stoddard’s text, says that a painting depicting the murder and a picture of the hallway where it happened are also included within Stoddard's book. "As for the fifty-six stabs and comparison to plum juice and all of that, Stoddard was capable of writing something like that. He obviously had a penchant for including reams of dramatic, factually dubious details. When Bellairs wrote 'Fifty-six times, said Stoddard, though he didn't say who counted the stabs,' perhaps this was a Bellairsian jab at Stoddard?"

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