Alison Weir's "Mary, Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord Darnley" is the fourth book of this author's that I have read. This one, at nearly 700 pages, kept me reading until the last page although it took a while to finish. Alison Weir's depth of research is so extensive that I rarely question anything about the historical information or her own opinions because she has gone to the original documents and sources as much as is possible.
Mary, Queen of Scots had a difficult life once she returned from France and became Queen in Scotland. She and Elizabeth I of England were cousins and Mary relied on Elizabeth for support when things were falling apart for her, but Elizabeth knew that Mary felt that her rightful place was Queen of Scotland and England and Elizabeth would never let that happen. Mary had married Lord Darnley who turned out to be a philandering husband and was most likely bisexual, which didn't help their marriage. He was young, impulsive, drank, partied and more than anything else wanted the crown as King of Scotland which he could only achieve by Mary's grace. She knew he was power hungry and once he was king, her power would be gone. In those days, even a Queen submitted to a male sovereign.
Lord Darnley was killed when the building he was staying overnight in blew up as a result of being mined with gunpowder. He was not liked by so many that a plot arose among those surrounding Mary to murder him. The question still remains whether Mary was in on the plot. She was very close to James Hepburn, the 4th Earl of Bothwell. Bothwell was part of the large group of men who had planned Darnley's murder. Bothwell himself was a power-seeker and was a confidante of Mary. Lord Darnley died on February 10,1567. Some questions about his murder are still being discussed by historians.
One of the most important and intriguing parts of the history of Mary, Queen of Scots and her subsequent trial in Darnley's murder are what is known as the Casket Letters. They are called that because they were found in a silver box that was called a casket. They were apparently written by Mary but it is also apparent that the letters were tampered with and even changed so as to make Mary look guilty of being in on the plot to kill Darnley. I personally don't think she played a part in it. She had her son, who she had with Darnley, to think about and he was the only rightful heir to the throne. She certainly didn't want Darnley claiming it, but I don't think she was foolish enough to involve herself in murder. Mary went on to marry Bothwell, but it seemed a foolish move on her part to marry someone who she highly suspected of being in on the death plot and who also who had raped her.
I was intrigued with this excellent history of Mary, Queen of Scots the entire way through the book and I learned so much about her. I felt sympathetic towards her but on the other hand, I wonder still why she did some of the things that she did, and about her poor decision-making. As it was, she wound up as Elizabeth's prisoner for so many years until her trial and death. It is a bittersweet story in history.
- Paperback: 640 pages
- Publisher: VINTAGE ARROW - MASS MARKET; 1 edition (1 September 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0099527073
- ISBN-13: 978-0099527077
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 4 x 19.8 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 440 g
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