Among the papers of Mary of Guise there is a record of cloth of gold bought in 1548 for three gowns for Mary Queen of Scots (1542-1587). Her agent Henri Cleutin, sieur d’Oysel, was instructed to buy the fabric from merchants who supplied the French court. Cleutin, known as a diplomat, as a soldier during the Scottish Reformation Crisis, may seem an unlikely personal shopper. He also features in Mary of Guise’s surviving wardrobe account.

Mary Queen of Scots, by Francois Clouet

The first item is a copy of a warrant from Mary of Guise of 17 January 1547/8. It is addressed to the merchants with whom Cleutin will negotiate for ‘cloth of gold frizee et sans frizee of the fashion of Tours of which colour he will advise, for three gowns, three skirt fronts, and sleeves for the little Queen of Scots.’

The money for the fabrics will come from the revenues of her son the duke of Longueville. Why the little queen was bought lavish clothes at the date is perhaps unclear, but around this time Regent Arran agreed that Mary should marry the Dauphin Francis and go to France, a major event and watershed.

Copy of the warrant from Mary of Guise, National Library of Scotland Adv MS 29.2.5 f18.

The next item is a copy of Cleutin’s progress report to Mary of Guise about his negotiations with the marchands de l’argenterie du Roy and Robert Fichepain at Tours. Back in 1537, Robert Fichepain had sold silks and velvet to Mary’s father James V at Blois.

Cleutin wrote that he had obtained from Pierre Jallain ‘… 3.25 ells of cloth of gold and 4 ells of cloth of silver, and a piece of red silk of the new fashion for a gown for the little Queen of Scots, and 5 ells of gold and violet silk for a robbe de cotte, an ell and 5/16 of gold and black silk for one skirt front, and silver and green silk of the new fashion for another skirt front.’

Cleutin could not get the best fabrics to complete the order because the merchants had moved on with the court and nothing suitable could be had in the town. He wrote on 1 February,  ‘Madame je nay pas en grand peyne a choisir lesdict draps par il ne sen est trouve aultres pardeca, le tout est a la court, Avecques le Sieur Robert Fichepain quy parte hier pour y aller’ – because Madame, though taking great pains to choose the fabrics, others can’t be found here, they are all at court, with Robert Fichepain who left yesterday to go there.

Copy of Cleutin’s letter to Mary of Guise

This does suggest that Cleutin really hadn’t got a handle on this. However, a schedule of the completed purchase made at Fontainebleau follows. This is a transcription of the French (or my best shot):


Des partyes fournyes par le commande de Madame la Duchesse de Guise pour la Royne dEscosse devis a Rene Tardif Robert Fichepanye & compaignons merchand de largentyerye du Roy

Le premier jour de Fevrier mvcxlvij livre a Monsieur Doysel ambassadeur pour le Roy en Escosse a son passir a Tours par ordonans et repen de Madame la Duchesse de Guyse

[A robbe for Mary Queen of Scots]

trois aulnes quartier toille a jour dor traict frizee dor et dargent a haulte frizeuoir avecques peic de soye rouge cram[oysie] pour faire robbe pour la petite Royne dEscosse A xxx[xx] sols laulne __ ij c xix L viij s vj d lt.

 [A robbe de cotte, for Mary Queen of Scots]

Pour cinq auln un quart autre toille a jour dor traict frizee a riche frizeoir dor aul soye crammoisie violet pour faire robbe de cotte pour laisdict dame auis pour __ iij c liij L viij s lt.

[A devant de cotte, for Mary Queen of Scots]

Plus une aul cinq seiziesmes aultre toille a jour dor battu frize dor a riche friz dorer avecques peic de soye noir pour faire deux davane de cotte pour lais dame A xv[xx] laul[ne] __ xliiij L v S lt.

[Devant de cotte and sleeves for Mary Queen of Scots]

Plus une aul[ne] ung qrt thoille a jour dargent battu frizee dor & dargent riche avecques peic de soye verte pour davan de cotte et manchons pour laisd dame A xxijxx laul[ne] ___ lxj L xvij s vj Lt.

[Robbe, cotte, habillmens for Mary Queen of Scots]

Plus quartre aulnes & demye velloure a jour dargent battu frize dor nouvelle facon pour robbe cotte et habillmens pour laisdict dame A xij[xx] sol __ vj[xx]j l x s lt.

Somme toute de parties huict cent livre sept solz six denyers tournois Faict accoster a Fontainebleau le xvme jour de Fevrier 1547 Ansi signe debeauquile et deronnray parasse.

Henri Cleutin was back in Scotland in March 1548, presumably with thes new gowns.

There is a note of a final payment for these clothes, authorised by Antoinette de Bourbon, Duchess of Guise and made in 1549. The Duchess, Mary’s grandmother, had also contributed to the expenses of Mary leaving Scotland, paying debts to merchants in Stirling and wages of the queen’s servants.



Cloth of gold and silver for gowns for Mary Queen of Scots, 1547/8, Accounts of Jean de Beaucaire, National Library of Scotland (Balcarres Papers, vol. 5) Adv MS 29.2.5 f18, 27r-v.

A costume account from 1551 in this manuscript is discussed in Rosalind K. Marshall (1978), ‘‘Hir Rob Ryall’: the Costume of Mary of Guise’, Costume, 12:1, pp. 1-12.

Henri Cleutin was probably involved in the appointment of the Sienese architect and military engineer Lorenzo Pomarelli, who served Mary of Guise during her Regency.

Timothy Cagnioli an Italian financier based in Edinburgh supplied luxury fabrics to Mary of Guise.

There is a lot of documentation for Robert Fichepain. The National Library of Scotland has his letter to Mary of Guise recommending René Balezay, a childhood friend from Tours, to be her apothecary in Scotland. This letter was printed by Marguerite Wood in her 1925 edition of the Balcarres Papers, pp. 37-9.

Wood also gave translations for several items in Fichepain’s 1551 costume account, pp. xxv-xxix. There are two versions of this account in the manuscript, one with prices. The pages are bound in the wrong order, as described in the library finding aid.

One thought on “Shopping for Mary Queen of Scots in 1548

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