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Crown of Thistles: The Fatal Inheritance of Mary, Queen of Scots [Kindle Edition]

Linda Porter
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Book Description

The struggle between the fecund Stewarts and the barren Tudors is generally seen only in terms of the relationship between Elizabeth I and her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots. But very little has been said about the background to their intense rivalry. Here, Linda Porter examines the ancient and intractable power struggle between England and Scotland, a struggle intensified during the reigns of Elizabeth and Mary's grandfathers. Henry VII aimed to provide stability when he married his daughter, Margaret, to James IV of Scotland in 1503. But he must also have known that Margaret's descendants might seek to rule the entire island. Crown of Thistles is the story of a divided family, of flamboyant kings and queens, cultured courts and tribal hatreds, blood feuds, rape and sexual licence on a breath-taking scale, and violent deaths. It also brings alive a neglected aspect of British history - the blood-spattered steps of two small countries on the fringes of Europe towards an awkward unity that would ultimately forge a great nation. Beginning with the unlikely and dramatic victories of two usurping kings, one a rank outsider and the other a fourteen-year-old boy who rebelled against his own father, the book sheds new light on Henry VIII, his daughter, Elizabeth, and on his great-niece, Mary Queen of Scots, still seductive more than 400 years after her death.

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Review

' ... coolly crafting the authentic story of how Mary, Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I came to be, rather than simply who they were. This is Porter's unique selling point in a crowded field ... Her writing is bold, insightful and vivid.' The Times Saturday Review

'In focusing on the family rivalries that led to Mary's reign and fall, Porter has found a fresh approach to a familiar subject.' Mail on Sunday

'... the book is elegantly written, decently researched and, crucially will alert a new readership to a neglected subject.' The Herald

'... Crown of Thistles is to be applauded as a highly courageous, pioneering attempt to brush the cobwebs off the existing national histories. Linda Porter has a considerable talent for synthesis and in this genre she is likely to excel in the future. Always professional in conception and dispassionate in style, her book deserves a wide readership.' Literary Review

'This gripping account has as many over-lapping branches as a monkey-puzzle tree, but as she weaves those warring kingdom's affairs the author maintains a firm grasp ... The jacket blurb promised rape and violence, and the latter is delivered with regularity. But this many-layered book offers much more, including fresh insights into Mary's downfall, especially the parts played by James V's discarded mistress.' Country Life

'Mary's life was rich in incident and Linda Porter recounts it with judiciousness and verve.' --New Statesman

Book Description

The struggle between the fecund Stewarts and the barren Tudors is generally seen only in terms of the relationship between Elizabeth I and her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots. But very little has been said about the background to their intense rivalry. Here, Linda Porter examines the ancient and intractable power struggle between England and Scotland, a struggle intensified during the reigns of Elizabeth and Mary’s grandfathers. Henry VII aimed to provide stability when he married his daughter, Margaret, to James IV of Scotland in 1503. But he must also have known that Margaret’s descendants might seek to rule the entire island. Crown of Thistles is the story of a divided family, of flamboyant kings and queens, cultured courts and tribal hatreds, blood feuds, rape and sexual licence on a breath-taking scale, and violent deaths. It also brings alive a neglected aspect of British history – the blood-spattered steps of two small countries on the fringes of Europe towards an awkward unity that would ultimately forge a great nation. Beginning with the unlikely and dramatic victories of two usurping kings, one a rank outsider and the other a fourteen-year-old boy who rebelled against his own father, the book sheds new light on Henry VIII, his daughter, Elizabeth, and on his great-niece, Mary Queen of Scots, still seductive more than 400 years after her death.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 10801 KB
  • Print Length: 545 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan; Unabridged edition (15 Aug. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00CRIWOJ8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #37,600 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Difficult times - well told 13 Dec. 2014
By markr TOP 500 REVIEWER
Verified Purchase
This is an interesting book which tells what was going on in both Scotland and England from around 1485 to 1603, and explains clearly how Mary came to be Queen of Scots and why her claim to the crown of England too was so strong but never achieved. The political manoeuvrings, in which France also played a key role are explained, along with the battles which often followed in an interesting and very readable manner.

There are of course quite a cast of characters in these pages - the dramatis personae at the end of the book is very useful, as are the genealogies at the front to help to try to keep track of who is who especially if you have to put the book down for a few days.

Only about half of the book is about Mary - but this approach helps to set the scene in which she became queen, and what caused the very difficult times during which she reigned.

There is so much betrayal, double dealing, and self interested treachery in these pages- difficult times indeed
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
By EleanorB TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Crown of Thistles tells a fascinating story of the complex, shared history of Scotland and England across a key period of time, including the years in which Henry the Seventh was seeking to establish the authority of his nascent regime and to establish a dynasty by forging advantageous marital alliances, such as that of his eldest boy, Arthur, with Katherine of Aragon.

Two English Kings, Henry and his son Henry the Eighth were the major royal players, and their near contemporaries in Scotland were the Stuart Kings, James IV and V. Scotland at this time, also had its established Auld Alliance with France and the English always had a difficult relationship with that country, despite flowery political language and big ticket events such as the Field of the Cloth of Gold.
This complex back story produced strong family ties between the Tudor and Stewart families - Henry the Seventh's eldest daughter, Margaret, was married at age 13 to James the IV and subsequent Stewart marriages with French princesses gave the little daughter of James V of Scotland a shared English/Scottish/French ancestry. This little heiress became Queen of Scotland at the age of 6 days, and although her own story is well known, the background to it all is perhaps less familiar. No longer, however, as this pacy book, which reads at times like a novel, puts everything into sharp focus and greatly helps our understanding of the turbulent events that formed the backdrop to Mary Stuart's ultimately tragic life. It also demonstrates that the potential circumstances for a united kingdom were present many, many years before the Union of the Crowns actually happened.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Sammy
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I enjoy reading about history. This book covers the areas that I didn't learn about in school. Or if we did, I wasn't paying attention. I didn't know for instance that Henry VIII had a sister Margaret who was married to the King of Scotland.
I would definitely recommend this book
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars loved it 16 Mar. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
for anyone interested in the bond between the English and Scottish thrones this is an essential. Well written with detail but does not bog you down with too much detail. Wonderful book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best history 19 Oct. 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Very easily read and gave differing opinions in context. It was quite gripping which surprised me, if school books had been so well who knows!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book 16 Sept. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very well researched and written enjoyed it very much..Will be interested in anything else she writes. Thought it covered Scottish history well
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scottish History. 2 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Although my Father was born in Scotland I didn't know much about Scottish History. I enjoyed this book going back several generations.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The negative reviews here seem to be because this isn't just a history of Mary Queen of Scots: they're right, it's not, in that Mary is only born about halfway through this book. What it is, though, is an excellent history of Mary's inheritances, both personal and political, which shaped both her reign and her life.

Porter goes back to Katherine de Valois who, after the death of her first husband, Henry V, married Owen Tudor, a very unlikely second husband for a French queen. From here she traces the intertwined destinies of the Tudors and Stuarts whose lines merged when Margaret Tudor, sister to Henry VIII, married James IV, grandfather to Mary Queen of Scots.

So much has been written about the Tudors, but the lives of the difficult James III, the charismatic James IV, and the unlucky James V are far less well known, and Porter does an excellent job of bringing them to life. A minor criticism is that, given the English bias in current history writing, Porter feels it necessary to spend so much time on the reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII.

So this does cover Mary's life, and does it in a fluent and lively style, but places her within the contexts of her family and national histories. For anyone wanting a more detailed focus on Mary Stuart, there's Antonia Fraser's established biography (Mary Queen Of Scots) and the newer, superlative book by John Guy (My Heart is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots).
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent biography. Its interesting in that her story starts ...
Excellent biography. Its interesting in that her story starts well before she is born and this book put Mary Queen of Scots in context of the logn rivalry (hundreds of years) and... Read more
Published 7 months ago by P. E. Lilley
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very interesting was very impressed with how this part of history was portrayed.
Published 7 months ago by mrs jennifer mary carroll
4.0 out of 5 stars The Scottish Court in a new light.
Gives a good insight into the relationship between the English and Scottish courts; which is refreshing as so many authorities concentrate on the English court, neglecting what was... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Michael Huggett
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm from Scotland and didn't know most of it so was good to read and...
Really enjoyable book. I thought it was just going to be about Mary Queen of Scots but it was a history of her family as well. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Hazel Davidson
3.0 out of 5 stars disapointing
I much prefer to read my history on 1st person novels rather than a history book but factually it was very good
Published 16 months ago by Layla Hughes
2.0 out of 5 stars Biased history
I gave up reading this after about two chapters because of the obvious and grating bias of the author, who dismissively rejects any alternative interpretation of actions; her... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Historia
3.0 out of 5 stars Hard going
Unexciting catalogue of events. Scholarly and fine as a text book but a tedious read. Detailed and excellent factual resume but poor Mary came out of this as a passive and dull... Read more
Published 18 months ago by jeannie france-hayhurst
5.0 out of 5 stars Mary Queen of Scots
Enjoyed reading this book on Mary, and I have read a few. A good price on the kindle for this ebook.
Published 19 months ago by gordyb
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