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Mary, Queen of Scots: Pride, Passion and a Kingdom Lost [Paperback]

Jenny Wormald

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Book Description

May 4 2001 1860645887 978-1860645884 0
Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, was one of history’s romantically tragic figures. Devious, naïve, often highly principled, beautiful, and sexually voracious, this was a woman who secured the Scottish throne and bolstered the position of the Catholic Church in Scotland. Her endless plotting, including a likely involvement in the murder of her husband Lord Darnley, eventually led to her flight from Scotland and imprisonment by her equally ambitions cousin and fellow queen, Elizabeth of England. And yet when Elizabeth ordered her unpredictable rival and kinswoman to be beheaded in 1587 she did so in resigned frustration rather than as act of political wrath.Was the beheading of a cousin truly necessary? Did Mary, though churlish, petulant, and often disloyal, really deserve to forfeit the compassion of her cousin, a woman who from childhood had been her friend and playmate? Mary’s fate was to be born to supreme power, but she was totally lacking in the political ability to deal with its responsibilities. This was the tragedy that turned her life into a study in failure. The extraordinary story of Mary, which has inspired the great poets, playwrights, and operatic composers of the 19th and 20th centuries, is one of the most colorful and emotionally searing tales of western history, and is here told by a leading specialist of the 16th century.

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About the Author

Jenny Wormald is a university lecturer in History and C.E. Hodge Fellow at the University of Oxford.

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Mary Queen of Scots was born in the palace of Linlithgow on 7 or 8 December 1542. Read the first page
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No melodrama - at last! Dec 16 2005
By S.Lynne - Published on Amazon.com
This, at last, is a book that focuses on what MQS actually DID as a queen, and what she didn't do. It measures her against the same stick used to measure other rulers of the same age instead of the usual sturm un drang offered up. She was no marytred saint, yet she was no she demon in velvet skirts. She was charming and lovely, however she was also inadequate. Kind of Queen-Lite, if you will.

I found it very interesting that her much toted tolerance concerning religion is revealed to be otherwise. She demands the right to practice her own religion, but denies that same right to other Catholics. It is hard to hold up the banner of Catholic martyr when she did nothing good for that cause in Scotland, empowering the Protestant at the expense of the Catholic.

And yes, I'm glad that Wormald came down on the side of Mary being involved in the plot against Darnley. Leave MQS some shreds of intelligence. If she didn't know, that makes her and Darnley the only ones in Scotland and Europe who were unaware of the plot. Her actions definitely speak loudly when she lured Darnely out of his family stronghold and brought him back to Edinburgh and death. It was politically astute and necessary. Only her blunders afterward destroyed her reputation. Handled differently, she could very likely have weathered it.

Good read, well written and neither rabid nor fawning.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Misplaced Life Feb. 8 2008
By LINDA A. ROOT - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a valuable book that focuses on Mary Stuart as a ruler rather than Mary Stuart as a heroine in a historical romance. It is not a mystery about who killed Lord Darnley. It is a critical analysis of what occurred when someone who was historically ordained to rule, but who possessed none of the qualities to make that rule successful in the dynamic of the sixteenth century, attempted to lead Scotland through the religious and political minefiled of its pre-modern politics. Some writers tend to think that Wormald is too tough on the historical Mary Queen of Scots, but there is good basis for her analysis. The essential question about the Scots Queen in not really whether or not she wrote all or some of the Casket Letters, and whether or not she was a player in the murder of her husband Lord Darnley, but whether she faired any better than most of the other Stuart kings who followed her in dealing with the great issues of her day. She clearly did not. While my own review of the letters insofar as they presently exist, the evidence from a variety of sources, and my own experience as a successful prosecutor leads me to believe that I probably could convict her of conspiracy to commit murder , but not as an aider and abettor of murder itself, if she had been less a French queen and more a Scot, had she seen her role more as an obligation to her own historical niche and less a license to behave as if she were answerable to no mortal, her monarchy might have ended quite differently. No one would have cared about Darnley. Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard, and even Thomas More did not put an end to Henry VIII, Essex did not end Elizabeth I, and the disposal of an unpopular sometimes Papist consort, would not have ended Mary's rule. Her prolonged absence from Scotland during her childhood, her identity with powers that were not in step with the religious and political changes in Scotland, her reliance upon her half-brother and other men to lead her country and usurp her power to make decisions are among teh flaws that are exposed and highlighted in this short but important book.

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