Of course, when one thinks of the roles such as Mary and Diana were expected to fulfill, one wonders if, in comparison, those who do well fill them aren t the real monsters If taken out of the inflated context, both of these women were actually rather normal and it is to this that Fraser is sympathetic.
Remember that time you thought your closest cousin was trying to have you assassinated and you thought it might be a good idea to execute her after wrongfully imprisoning her for nineteen years Don t bother, cause you re going to die childless and her son is going to take over your throne, thus ensuring the survival of her line not yours for at least thirteen generations That s what I got out of this book Oh, and also that rebel lords aren t nearly so fun as they sound.
Author Of Marie AntoinetteShe Was The Quintessential Queen Statuesque, Regal, Dazzlingly Beautiful Her Royal Birth Gave Her Claim To The Thrones Of Two Nations Her Marriage To The Young French Dauphin Promised To Place A Third Glorious Crown On Her Noble HeadInstead, Mary Stuart Became The Victim Of Her Own Impulsive Heart, Scandalizing Her World With A Foolish Passion That Would Lead To Abduction, Rape And Even Murder Betrayed By Those She Most Trusted, She Would Be Lured Into A Deadly Game Of Power, Only To Lose To Her Envious And Unforgiving Cousin, Elizabeth I Here Is Her Story, A Queen Who Lost A Throne For Love, A Monarch Pampered And Adored Even As She Was Led To Her Beheading, The Unforgettable Woman Who Became A Legend For All Time I have to admit that before reading this, I mainly knew Mary Queen of Scots from the film Elizabeth, where she was presented in a minor part as a sensual French Catholic traitor prolonging a bloody war with England.
In actuality, her story is almost fascinating than that of Elizabeth, her cousin Mary serves as Queen of France until her husband the King dies, when they re both barely 20 She returns to Scotland as Queen But Scotland is still very medieval, plus it s protestant and she s Catholic, which pits her against many of the ruling nobles, even though she shows herself to be tolerant of her Protestant subjects Her undoing is her private life Her second husband is murdered leaving her a widow again, and importantly to those seeking power, single and free to remarry One of her advisers takes advantage of this, kidnapping her probably with her knowledge and then to ensure she will marry him and make him king, he rapes her This all leads to her removal from the Scottish throne and eventual imprisonment and beheading.
And those are just the cliff notes.
This is my second Antonia Fraser book and now i see her pattern as a historian who s out to clear the name, or at least explain, some of the most hated misunderstood women in history In both books, she puts herself on the side of the queen, explaining their actions, defending them from some of their harshest critics, though she also does acknowledge their faults But it seems necessary Mary s problems during her reign of Scotland can be attributed as much to the fact that she was a woman as that she was Catholic It s fascinating to think about Mary, a ruling women in the 16th century whose marriages proved her undoing and led to her beheading, versus Elizabeth, who ruled in the same time but never married never sharing her power and had a far successful reign that ended in natural death Obviously, there were many other factors at play they were very different women Mary is trusting, Elizabeth guarded Mary was a Catholic in a Protestant land, whereas Elizabeth shared the religion of her subjects But still, it shows the vulnerabilities of being a female ruler during a time when marriage, not elections, was the key to gaining power.
One of Fraser s greatest strengths is how she delves into who these women were so that they become three dimensional and so that it s like reading a novel than a history book Mary read, not romances like Marie Antionette, but history books, Greek and Latin classics She had long beautiful fingers, long auburn hair or sometimes wigs One of the most compelling parts was the section where Fraser described Mary s last night before being beheaded It s as if we re in the room with Mary as she s deciding who should get what of hers, waiting to see what she will do in her last few hours And we see how in the end she transforms herself from merely a wronged queen into a stoic Catholic martyr.
I am very much interested in Mary s story, but haven t studied any history of the period since I was at secondary school I chose to read Fraser s account of hers because she is so well revered I thought that if anyone could present her tale in a fascinating and memorable way, it would be her Alas, I have a few issues with the book Mary Queen of Scots held my attention for the first 150 pages or so, but I felt as though it shifted after that point, losing some of its initial sparkle Fraser s effort is also a little protracted it would have been better, and far successful, had it been presented in a book of half this size As it is, Mary Queen of Scots book, not person although she did stand at the height of five foot eleven was rather a behemoth.
The entirety is very repetitive there is so much emphasis placed upon the frankly largely unimportant details of Mary s appearance and height, and the reiteration of such things feels unnecessary Fraser s writing is not bad, but given her stature as a biographical historian, I had expected that it would be far tighter, better structured, and expansive Much of the vocabulary is used again and again, sometimes in the same sentence The book could have been riveting indeed, I thought it would be after reading the witty and amusing introduction but it felt flat.
I would like to pick up another Fraser in future to see how it compares, but I shouldn t think I will be doing so for quite some time After all, the wrist ache needs to subside first I hesitate recommending this book because the writing is often dull and the author has an annoying habit of placing latin and french quotes without a translation But in the end I do recommend this book because the story of Mary Queen of Scots tragic life is compelling Twice a Queen, first of France than of Scotland Mary was almost six foot tall in an age when five feet for woman was average Beautiful, athletic, pampered, intelligent, naive and a magnet for misfortune Her first husband died soon after becoming king Mary goes to Scotland where she marries a rake who murders one of Mary s courtiers before her eyes while she is pregnant with her son the future James I Her husband is later murdered and then a Scottish warlord rapes Mary Sicilian style as part of foreplay to wed her The scottish nobles revolt once again She flees Scotland seeking the protection of her cousin Queen Elizabeth who imprisons her for twenty years before beheading her She dies with dignity after defending herself brilliantly in her trial.
Before she died, Mary said the history of England is awash with blood.
1969 that sounds about right I used to stare at it on the high shelf in K Mart s very limited section of books during our weekly shopping It was such a leap from what the World Book Encyclopedia had to offer Mary, so regal and Antonia on the back cover, so equally regal and so sexy No one ever seemed to buy it and the copy became shopworn was that from me and then one day there was a paperback edition on a low shelf and I saved my pocket money and bought it It was dense with words, a thick book that needed a dictionary for me to read along and it had my first footnotes I spent a summer imbibing it and reciting the old poem Mary, Queen O Scots Go think of it in silence and alone Then weigh against a grain of sand the glories of a throne I hadn t yet heard Sandy Denny s Fotheringhay of this same period I may still have that paperback somewhere it still gives a thrill And that reminds me now that I am old I want to read this My History A Memoir of Growing Up by Antonia Fraser.
Marie Stuart, reine de France et d cosse est un livre qui plaira norm ment tous ceux qui aiment la litt rature et culture fran aise L intrigue est terriblement tragique comme celle d un roman cap et p e d Alexandre Dumas Cependant, l auteure comme son sujet est grande admiratrice de Ronsard, de Bellay et de Brantome et elle raconte l histoire avec beaucoup de finesse, Marie devient reine de l cosse six jours apr s sa naissance en 1542 Alors on l envoie en France pour son ducation En 1558, elle pouse Fran ois le fils du roi Henri II L ann e d apr s, Henri II meurt et Fran ois devient roi Quand son mari meurt deux ans apr s, Marie retourne en cosse et son cauchemar commence.
En 1565, elle pouse son cousin Lord Darnley En 1567, son fils Jacques 1er de l Angleterre est n La m me ann e son mari Lord Darnley est assassin Le comte Bothwell, un des responsables de l assassinat de Lord Darnley, l enl ve, la viole et l oblige l pouser Les autorit s l arr tent peu apr s Elle passera 18 ans en d tention avant de se faire trancher la t te dans la tour de Londres en 1587.
Pendant sa captivit , on l accuse d avoir particip dans l assassinat de Lord Darnley et d avoir complot contre sa cousine Elisabeth I re de l Angleterre Les accusations sont fausses mais on fabrique des preuves de toute pi ce afin d obtenir sa condamnation Fraser est outr e par les multiples outrages commises contre Marie Stuart Aux yeux de Fraser, Marie Stuart tait une femme admirable Elle loyale, g n reuse et d une int grit absolue Elle adorait la po sie, l exercice en plein air, et la bonne compagnie Finalement, elle tait une catholique exemplaire.
Le tout semble un peu romanesque mais Fraser a r ussi a impos son point de vue Depuis 1969, l ann e ou le livre est sorti, personne ne conteste la vision de Marie Stuart propos e par Mme Fraser Le d fi n tait pas d innocenter Marie Stuart car les preuves taient abondantes Le probl me tait que celui qui clame l innonence de Marie Stuart d nonce in vitablement Elisbeth 1ere comme meurti re.
I ve never read a nonfiction book about Mary Stuart, and the last and, I think, only fiction book I ve read about her was back in elementary school, when I read her book from the Royal Diaries series I think it was called Mary, Queen of Scots Queen Without a Country or something like that, and I remember not liking it very much What I knew about her going into this book was taken almost entirely from Elizabeth centric history books, which obviously don t always show Mary in the best light I ve always been staunchly Team Elizabeth, but I decided it was time I gave Mary a fair shot confession a I mostly decided to start reading this book now because I have become obsessed with the CW show Reign, which I will discuss further at the end of the review because oh my god, you guys, and confession b I was tempted to write this review as a fourteen year old Reign fan who was OUTRAGED at all the things that were missing from the show But I digress Mary Stuart is one of the sadder historical figures I ve come across She was a queen almost from birth, but had to be taken out of her home country after only a few years to avoid being killed She was brought up in France, married a French prince, and felt at home there than she ever did in Scotland even later in life, she often signed her name as Marie instead of Mary When her first husband died and she returned home, things went okay for a while, and Mary actually showed signs of being a competent ruler, and then everything went swiftly and horribly wrong Her later life seems to be comprised of a series of grave errors in judgment Bothwell, anyone that directly resulted in her being imprisoned for almost twenty years and then executed She didn t ever get a chance to really do anything on her own, and instead spent her life just reacting to what others did A study of her life presents a lot of interesting what ifs what if she and Elizabeth had actually been able to arrange a meeting early in their reigns, as Mary tried for years to arrange What if she had displayed a little common sense in her marriages to Darnely and Bothwell What if, upon being forced to abdicate and flee Scotland, Mary had gone to France instead of stupidly blundering into Elizabeth s territory Unfortunately, there s no way to answer any of these questions, but it s at least interesting to consider how history would have been changed if Mary hadn t had such terrible and consistent bad luck.
Fraser s book does a good job of considering these what if scenarios, and also proves that Mary had the potential to be a great ruler, possibly even greater than Elizabeth The history is comprehensive, clear, detailed she spends an entire chapter just examining the infamous Casket Letters , and balanced she isn t afraid to point out when Mary did something extremely reckless or stupid, and although she can be kind of a dick to Elizabeth, she does point out that there wasn t much else the Queen of England could have done Mary spent the majority of her life being fucked over by various people and circumstances, and ultimately she s interesting as a figure of speculation than an actual historical figure The book is interesting Mary, not so much.
Okay, let s talk about Reign Guys GUYS This is all real Some genius at the CW decided that it would be an awesome idea to make a show about fifteen year old Mary s life in France before she married Francis, and it s basically if Gossip Girl did a Renaissance Faire episode after skimming a Tudor history book There is, I shit you not, a completely made up character named Sebastian his nickname is Bash, I m 100% serious so we can have a love triangle Mary s four attendants have been renamed Kenna, Aiylee, Grier, and Lola and there s a whole subplot about murderous pagans who live in the woods outside the castle In 16th century France It s the best show I ve ever seen and I hope it lasts ten seasons and you all need to watch it immediately And I m positive that I couldn t enjoy its batshit disregard for historical fact nearly as much if I hadn t just read this book So in that respect, this was well worth the read
, having been unable to put the volume down for the final three or four hours As I lay in bed at the end of each day of reading, my mind returned to this astonishing woman, who was a Queen in the sixteenth century, and acquired mythic status Which she deserved which indeed she deserved It seemed to me suddenly that the history plays of Shakespeare, the murders and plots, the naked power struggles I always thought exaggerated in drama, were hardly exaggerated at all this was how it was These brutal nobles of sixteenth century Scotland, plotting like contemporary gangs to get the upper hand, to knife or be knifed And Mary herself, brought up and educated in France a woman culturally finer, and a nicer person not, despite best efforts, equipped to deal with the brutality, the cunning of it all.
Antonia Fraser is fascinated by her and yet one doesn t feel she is manipulating the evidence in the interests of intensifying heroic stature She has a dry way of commenting which is very appealing When Mary celebrates her disastrous marriage to Darnley seduced by his youth, his good looks, his height Fraser says simply of their first night in bed together It is to be hoped that Mary Stuart, who had sacrificed so much for this match, found at least this part of the ceremony to her satisfaction How sad how deep the irony that she fell for Darnley because she nursed him while ill She had a strong motherly streak and he was young, and good looking, and weak, and grateful, and well born And thoroughly silly and spoilt It seems likely that the illness which gave rise to her infatuation was probably syphilis, presumably acquired during Darnley s well trumpeted life style He was a horrible young man and he met an ignoble death, in nothing but a night gown in the garden of the house where assassins had intended him to die in an explosion He tried, and failed, to escape And Bothwell, who kidnapped and probably raped Mary herself, met a much gruesome end, while Mary herself died magnificently, with phenomenal courage Oh what a death She was larger than life She was amazing And this book, which recreates the complex events leading up to the execution, in which Mary s own son James could have but chose not to save her from death, is a wonderful piece of narration My head is still buzzing from it Remember , she said to her judges in October 1586, that the theatre of the world is wider than the realm of England And so it is, and so it is.