Esmé Stuart d’Aubigny, 1st Duke of Lennox, portrait of a French courtier who shook James VI’s court

Tue 7 May
Books & Ideas

Dr. Elisabeth Rébeillé-Borgella, historian and tour guide, will deliver a talk about Esmé Stuart d’Aubigny (c.1542-1583), 1st Duke of Lennox, the unknown French cousin and favourite of James VI of Scotland whose life as a French lord and courtier profoundly changed when he visited his cousin in Scotland in 1579.

This talk will present the results of the research she has made for her doctoral diploma, writing the first complete biography of a normal French lord of the 16th century who ended up being the most influential lord in Scotland for three years. This will be the occasion to look at the relations between France and Scotland after the end of the treaty of the Auld Alliance and the Reformation in Scotland. The talk will also question the role of a foreigner favourite in a European context divided by the wars of religions and threatened by the ambitions of several monarchs. Looking at Esmé Stuart’s life will also give another perspective on James VI’s early years as a king and as a teenager who discovered his own feelings.


Dr. Elisabeth Rébeillé-Borgella graduated last year from the University of Edinburgh, specializing herself in Scottish History. Her interests lie in the sixteenth-century Scotland, the Stuart family and in the gender history. She is currently coordinator and tour guide for Wee Ecosse, putting her skills of historian in the service of the French-speaking tourism in Edinburgh.