More than four hundred years after her death, Mary Queen of Scots remains one of the most romantic and controversial figures in British history. Antonia Fraser's classic biography of her won the James Tait Prize when it was first published in 1969, became an international bestseller and was translated into nine languages. Mary passed her ...
More than four hundred years after her death, Mary Queen of Scots remains one of the most romantic and controversial figures in British history. Antonia Fraser's classic biography of her won the James Tait Prize when it was first published in 1969, became an international bestseller and was translated into nine languages. Mary passed her childhood in France and married the Dauphin to become Queen of France at the age of sixteen. Widowed less than two years later, she returned to Scotland as Queen after an absence of thirteen years. Her life then entered its best known phas: the early struggles with John Knox, and the unruly Scottish nobility; the fatal marriage to Darnley and his mysterious death; her marriage to Bothwell, the chief suspect, that led directly to her long English captivity at the hands of Queen Elizabeth; the poignant and extraordinary story of her long imprisonment that ended with the labyrinthine Babington plot to free her, and her execution at the age of forty-four.Antonia Fraser's biography, four years in the writing, enters fully into the life of an historical figure who continues to capture the popular imagination, and provides a moving answer to the question, What was Mary Queen of Scots really like? '
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Antonia Fraser is famous for writing historical biographies including the book about Marie Antoinette that Sofia Coppola?s 2006 movie was based on. This was her first biography published in 1969.
Mary Queen of Scots is one of the most polarizing figures in history. People either think she was a slattern, black widow or a Catholic martyr. Fraser definitely skews toward the latter, but she still manages to provide a great deal of interesting details. Mary was much maligned in her time mainly because she had the temerity to try to run the country she had been the anointed sovereign of since she was 6 days old and to insist on choosing her own husbands (only her second and third husbands, her first marriage was settled before she was even a year old). On the second point Fraser provides ample evidence that Mary actually thought she was following the advice of her advisors (Elizabeth of England and her half-brother Moray with her second husband and the lords of Scotland with her third).
Mary?s true flaws where in her stubbornness and her habit of blindly trusting people based on family connections even when they showed themselves to be primarily self interested. While it?s true that she did eventually plot against her cousin Elizabeth, Fraser makes clear that this was after she had been held in England for nearly twenty years against her will.
Overall it?s a well researched biography, but my one gripe is the number of untranslated French and Latin lines Fraser includes. It was annoying to have to stop an look up so many lines just to keep up with the story.
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