- Publisher: Ballantine Books (Jan. 12 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780345521392
- ISBN-13: 978-0345521392
- ASIN: 0345521390
- Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 4.1 x 24.4 cm
- Shipping Weight: 962 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #706,455 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Lost Tudor Princess: The Life of Lady Margaret Douglas Hardcover – Jan 12 2016
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The Lost Tudor Princess: The Life of Lady Margaret Douglas
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This book focuses on Margaret Douglas, niece to King Henry the Eighth and a woman who has managed to survive the tumultuous Tudor reigns of Henry, Mary, Elizabeth One and Mary, Queen of Scots. There is so much information in this book that I have had to refer to the index of who is who in the beginning of the book.
I thought I was familiar with events that occurred in King Henry's court as well as Elizabeth's, but it turns out, there is a lot more that I didn't know about, and Margaret was in the midst of it all. Born to King Henry's oldest sister, and her second husband, Margaret is not really a Scottish princess, but is treated like one. She was then sent to live with her uncle when she was 13 and became a lady-in-waiting to several of Henry's wives, starting with Queen Katherine. In Margaret's life, she played on the national court as well as any of the Tudors did. She may not be as famous as the Tudors were, but she played an important part in history.
This is a meaty book full of information, but it's so good to read. Once you pick it up, it is hard to put it down. I am intrigued by all the drama and events that went on. Weir has a talent for making historical people seem more human, more life-like than just names on a piece of paper stuck in a museum. She is the reason why I am in love with English history. She has brought so many characters to life for me as well as making history of people who have lived hundreds of years ago seem real. That is talent.
The daughter of Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scots and mother of James V, and her second husband Matthew Douglas, Earl of Angus, Margaret spent her childhood in Scotland with her father and took to heart the rivalries, violence and blood feuds of the clans. In her teens she moved to England and became part of Henry VIII's court and made friends with Princess Mary, Queen Katherine, and her Aunt Mary, Countess of Suffolk. She also made the first big mistake of her life by making a marriage contract with a son of the Duke of Norfolk. As the two tragically learned, decisions involving marriages of members of the Royal family are made by the King. A furious Henry sent both to the Tower. The young scion of Norfolk died of an illness and Margaret almost succumbed until she was released. Later Margaret married, with Henry's full approval, Matthew Stuart, the Earl of Lennox. Matthew was a descendent of James II and also harbored ambitions. Fortunately for the two, it became a love match and the two developed a strong marriage. Their love would endure all the trials, tribulations, and ultimate tragedies they faced (many brought on by their own actions). The early years of their marriage were spent in Northumberland since Lennox was exiled from Scotland. This distance from London meant they escaped most of the political and religious turmoil of the years of Mary I and Edward VI.
A large portion of the book details their plotting and machinations to return to Scotland and to persuade Mary Queen of Scots to marry their son Henry Lord Darnley. They succeeded and Mary and Darnley were married, leaving Margaret to face the fury of Elizabeth and more time under arrest. The end of the disastrous marriage, Darnley's death, and Mary's flight to England where she became Elizabeth's prisoner are fully covered. Lennox served as regent for his grandson the young James VI until he was murdered by political and clan rivals. Margaret spent the rest of her life grieving for her loss and the fact that she had no influence over her grandson King James. In her later years she again incurred the wrath of Elizabeth when she and Bess Hardwicke, another redoubtable Elizabethan character, connived to have their mutual granddaughter Arabella Stuart, daughter of Margaret's younger son, married without Elizabeth's approval. Back under arrest for Margaret!
One can admire Margaret for her dedication and drive, but there is no doubt she lied, plotted, and ultimately committed treason against her cousin Elizabeth. Her disobedience against Henry VIII could be attributed to youthful foolishness but she certainly should have learned that Royal marriages are at the discretion of the monarch. In addition to her involvement with Mary of Scotland, Margaret and Lennox, as Catholics, were in communication with Spain. Certainly a treasonable action. Margaret was lucky that Elizabeth really did not like executing close family members until she had no choice, as in the case of Mary Queen of Scots. In many ways, I think both Margaret and Mary Queen of Scots were a throwback to ancestress Margaret Beaufort who certainly dissembled and plotted to get her son crowned as Henry VII. And, of course, Elizabeth herself was no slouch when it came to dissembling and manipulating to get her way and to safeguard her throne.
In addition to the plots and stratagems of these royal characters, the perfidious nature of the Scots nobility is also mindboggling. Double crossing, triple crossing, and even quadruple crossing was second nature to them. It became so confusing that I finally had to make a chart to keep up with all the changes in alliances and the murders.
This is a lengthy book, full of details, transcripts of poems and letters. I don't think it was necessary to include so much of the poetry written by Margaret or so many of the letters but Weir is a conscientious historian, even though the inclusion detracts from the narrative flow. It became a bit dry at times which is why I've rated it with four stars. The characters are fascinating if not always admirable. Margaret Brandon may be "forgotten" however her descendants have worn the crown of combined England and Scotland, including Elizabeth II, a direct descendant.