Slanted, but still thorough biography Feb 1, 2009
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.