The biography that is being reviewed is Mary, Queen of Scots by Gordon Donaldson. Mary Stuart, was born at Linlithge Palace on December 8, 1542, sixs days later she became Queen of Scotland. Mary became Queen of France and soon her greediness grew and she wanted to take over England. Mary was unwilling to stay in France, so she went back to Scotland. There her second husband died and she was imprisoned in England for the suspicion of the murder. Mary had a bad ending to her life. Mary got caught in attempting an assassination of Queen Elizabeth for which she was beheaded on February 8, 1587. In conclusion, Mary had a hard life trying to keep her thrones.
The first chapter in the book discusses the reign of King James V, father of Mary Stuart. He became King of Scotland at the age of one after his fathers death at the Battle of Flodden. His marriage to princess Madeleine ended after her sudden death, and James then married Mary of Guise-Lorraine in 1538. This marriage cemented the Alliance between Scotland and France but worsened relations with England leading to the war with Henry VIII, which ended in Scottish defeat in 1542. James V died in Falkland Palace, on December 14, 1542, As a worn-out, desperate man, at the age of thirty years. His daughter Mary, just six days old, was his successor.
In chapter two Mary, Queen of Scots was being educated in France, where she was sheltered from the danger of Scotland, England and France and their constant bloodshed. During Marys childhood, France, England, and Scotland fought over religious decisions and particularly over who should control the church. At the end of the chapter, the Book of Discipline, comes into effect on setting up a regional organization for the Church.
In the beginning of chapter three, Mary is eighteen years old, married and then widowed, and she is Queen of Scotland and France. The King of England, Francis, is dying, and Mary has the thirst for more power by trying to become Queen of England. Marys sister-in-law, Elizabeth, also finds the idea of being Queen tempting but by being illegitimate by birth, Mary feels she has the upper hand. She marries Lord Darnley, her English cousin, and is infatuated with him in the beginning, but she soon starts to dislike him and refuses his demands for crown matrimonial. Darnley becomes jealous of Marys most trusted friend, David Rizzio, and sets a plot to murder him. In 1566, a band of nobles led by Darnley, broke into Marys home and killed Rizzo, perhaps hoping that the shock of it would prove fatal to the pregnant queen. After the murder of Rizzio, Mary realized that Darnley, the playboy who was too interested in hunting and women, was unfitted for the political power in front of him. Mary reconciled with Darnley, but after Rizzios murder, it was not sincere. Mary and Darnley never cohabited again, even after the birth of their son.
In chapter four, Mary is looking for the support of a man who is of assured loyalty. The strongest candidate then was James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell. Bothwells family was one of the most important in Scotland, with wide lands of their own and wider political leadership of other distance relatives. In February of 1567, Darnley was ill and staying at the old Provosts Lodging.At two in the morning, an explosion demolished the lodge and Darnley was found outside, dead. Mary had visited him earlier that week for she was trying to reconcile with Darnley. She feared she was pregnant with a child and that everyone would know it could not be Darnleys. After Darnelys death, Bothwell abducted Mary, and they were married with protestant rites. By this, her people revolted for she had thrown away her reputation, shown her approval of her husbands murder, and abandoned the church of her fathers. Even though she sacrificed her thrown for Bothwell, the marriage brought her no happiness. Before the marriage even took place, opposition was being formed to liberate the Queen and the prince from Bothwell. After the rebels and the Queens armies met in Carberry, the Queen, knowing her army had begun to diminish, surrendered to be brought to Edinburgh in disgrace. The next day she was sent to Lochleven where she was overthrown and forced to abdicate in favor of her son, King James VI. Bothwell was put on trial for the death of Darnley and was proclaimed regent on August twenty-second.
The beginning of chapter five brings us to the bondage and captivity of Mary in the island castle of Lochleven. Bothwell went to Norway and fell into the hands of kinsfolk of a Norwegian girl with whom he had seduced. He then was put in prison where he died. Mary fled from the castle of Lochleven and was at large for eleven days in which she gathered between 5,000 and 6,000 men to be in her party. Mary wrote to Queen Elizabeth to try to re-gain her right to the thrown, but Mary never gained support from Elizabeth and her party failed to win the battle. Mary was put back into detention in England and from then on her number of supporters dwindled and finally she was alone.
Chapter six brings us to the trial of Mary, by Moray, where she is accused of the murder of her second husband, Darnley. Mary wanted to please Elizabeth so that she would help stop the trial and give her back her title as Queen. Mary felt that it would please her if she married one of her subjects. The first candidate was the Duke of Norfolk. Although they had never met, the two had been writing letters and sending gifts to each other. Norfolk wanted to marry Mary but only if she were a queen regnant, not a prisoner. Norfolk tried to negotiate with Moray in that he might accept a compromise. There was talk that Moray was withholding evidence to get Mary imprisoned for life yet no one could prove it. Despite what Mary had conceived about Elizabeths feelings, the queen was less than pleased from the arrangement. Mary was then moved to Westminster where Elizabeth decided that the trial proceedings should take place there. Moray was now able to receive the assurance that he wanted- that if he should prove Marys guilt, his position would be secured, and Mary would be imprisoned for life. Mary was refused the right to be received in person. During the trial, there was a deadlock. Elizabeth refused to let Mary see the Book of Articles until she promised to answer it, and Mary had refused to promise to answer it until she had seen it. It was on January tenth that Elizabeth announced her inconclusive finding. Nothing had been proved against Moray to prove his dishonor and nothing had been proved against Mary to cause Elizabeth to conceive any evil opinion of her. Both were innocent. But the two were treated differently. Moray was given liberty to depart for Scotland, with a loan. Marys commissioners said that if Moray is at liberty to go, then so should Mary be. It was a double success for England. The Queen of Scots was to remain deprived of her crown and Moray could continue to rule.
In chapter seven, Marys restoration to her thrown had by no means been finally stopped. Six moths after the decision, the Queens party in Scotland was proposing that she should be divorced from Bothwell to be married to Norfolk in order to begin her restoration. Mary also thought of retiring in England where she could be with James and even rule jointly with him. It was told that Mary had not resigned her claim to the English thrown as Elizabeths heir. Mary was then taken to Tutbury Castle, a medieval castle that was in ruins and Mary loathed the living quarters. She was allowed to leave now and again to bathe at Buxton for the sake of her health and she was allowed fresh air and exercise. Marys keeper, George Talbot, instructed that she be treated as a queen and she was, in some respect. Mary had her own household of thirty to forty persons and she was allowed to sit under a royal cloth of state. Mary continued to try to regain her right to the thrown. Anthony Babington plotted to assassinate Elizabeth and he told Mary about the plot. Mary not only agreed but she replied with a letter that eagerly welcomed it. Mary felt that this plot was what she needed for her restoration. Marys letter to Anthony was seized and Elizabeth was informed about the devious plot that was about to unfold. In a trial, Mary was judged guilty and a few days later, parliament petitioned for her execution. Elizabeth then asked parliament if in some other way Mary could be found, short of the death sentence but it was a unanimous decision. After the death warrant was signed, Elizabeth still tried to save Mary from execution, but the ruling would not be overthrown. Mary was beheaded on February 8, 1587, This woman, who had so often broken down at moments of crisis and who had collapsed when she had to witness the execution of Sir John Gordon in 1562, faced her own end with calm, courage, and dignity.
The strengths of the book are very apparent. The book provides an in depth description of Mary Stuart from her appearance, to the sports in which she liked to play. Also, the book shows pictures of the castles in which Mary stayed in and also of Mary and her first husband, Francis II. In addition, this book can creatively make you visualize specific events that occurred in Marys life.
The one major weakness of the book was that it was a to informative for the average reader. By describing the many ruling families of England, France, and Scotland, this book proved to be quite confusing in recognizing which family belonged to which country. Also, the author seemed to jump from one time period to the next without any flowing text.
I feel that this book should mainly be read by above-average reading level students in high school/ college or by people interested in that particular time period. I enjoyed reading about Mary Stuart and her troubled life. It was sometimes hard to grasp the content, however, when I did comprehend the material, it was quite interesting.
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