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Mary Queen Of Scots: And The Murder Of Lord Darnley [Kindle Edition]

Alison Weir
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

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Book Description

On the night of 10 February 1567 an explosion devastated the Edinburgh residence of Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots. The noise was heard as far away as Holyrood Palace, where Queen Mary was attending a wedding masque. Those arriving at the scene of devastation found, in the garden, the naked corpses of Darnley and his valet. Neither had died in the explosion, but both bodies bore marks of strangulation. It was clear that they had been murdered and the house destroyed in an attempt to obliterate the evidence. Darnley was not a popular king-consort, but he was regarded by many as having a valid claim to the English throne. For this reason Elizabeth I had opposed his family's longstanding wish to marry him to Mary Stuart, who herself claimed to be the rightful queen of England. Alison Weir's investigation of Darnley's murder is set against one of the most dramatic periods in British history. Her conclusions will shed a brilliant new light on the actions and motives of the conspirators and, in particular, the extent of Mary's own involvement.


Product Description

Amazon.co.uk Review

The prolific Scottish historian Alison Weir, in her new book Mary Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord Darnley, grapples painstakingly with a mystery that has dogged history for centuries.

At midnight on February 9 1567, a violent explosion ripped apart Kirk o’Field, the Edinburgh residence of Lord Darnley, the 20-year-old King and second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots. His unmarked body was found lying under a tree, together with that of his valet. The cause of his death and its perpetrators have remained obscured since that night, though Mary was a prime suspect in her husband's murder. Her apparent apathy regarding the murder investigation was regarded with deep suspicion but more incriminating were the infamous "Casket" letters, said to have been written by her to her lover Lord Bothwell, the supposed architect of Darnley’s assassination. Yet if Mary had good reasons for wanting her (Catholic) husband dead, then so had much of Scottish nobility.

Using contemporary evidence Weir argues exhaustively that the letters could have been the work of forgers employed by Protestant lords "laying snares for the queen". Sympathetic to Elizabeth I, intent on justifying Mary's subsequent imprisonment and forcing her abdication, the prospect of a young foreign Catholic queen, unversed in diplomacy, refusing a Protestant alliance through marriage was anathema to the Scottish lords. Weir's book claims that Mary’s fate was sealed as much by the country of which she was monarch as by Elizabethan England.

Alison Weir’s carefully researched addition to the wealth of material on the myth and reality of Mary Queen of Scots is too long, at 600 pages, but nevertheless makes for a thoughtful, scholarly and compelling read. --Catherine Taylor

Amazon Review

The prolific Scottish historian Alison Weir, in her new book Mary Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord Darnley, grapples painstakingly with a mystery that has dogged history for centuries.

At midnight on February 9 1567, a violent explosion ripped apart Kirk o’Field, the Edinburgh residence of Lord Darnley, the 20-year-old King and second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots. His unmarked body was found lying under a tree, together with that of his valet. The cause of his death and its perpetrators have remained obscured since that night, though Mary was a prime suspect in her husband's murder. Her apparent apathy regarding the murder investigation was regarded with deep suspicion but more incriminating were the infamous "Casket" letters, said to have been written by her to her lover Lord Bothwell, the supposed architect of Darnley’s assassination. Yet if Mary had good reasons for wanting her (Catholic) husband dead, then so had much of Scottish nobility.

Using contemporary evidence Weir argues exhaustively that the letters could have been the work of forgers employed by Protestant lords "laying snares for the queen". Sympathetic to Elizabeth I, intent on justifying Mary's subsequent imprisonment and forcing her abdication, the prospect of a young foreign Catholic queen, unversed in diplomacy, refusing a Protestant alliance through marriage was anathema to the Scottish lords. Weir's book claims that Mary’s fate was sealed as much by the country of which she was monarch as by Elizabethan England.

Alison Weir’s carefully researched addition to the wealth of material on the myth and reality of Mary Queen of Scots is too long, at 600 pages, but nevertheless makes for a thoughtful, scholarly and compelling read. --Catherine Taylor


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1956 KB
  • Print Length: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (30 April 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004X0JH0C
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #91,810 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Alison Weir lives and works in Surrey. Her books include Britain's Royal Families, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Children of England, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry VIII: King and Court, Mary, Queen of Scots and Isabella: She-Wolf of France.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Biased and uncritical use of the sources 29 Aug. 2009
By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I always really enjoy reading Weir's books but I've never been impressed by her as a historian, principally because of her very biased and uncritical use of sources. I've found it best to treat her as a historical novelist putting forward an almost fictionalised version of the story she is telling. In this book, she has attempted something a little different from the other books of hers I have read: to untangle a mystery, rather than elucidate a personality as she does in her books on Eleanor of Aquitaine and Isabella of France. And, sadly, this just serves to foreground and highlight her weaknesses.

While this purports to focus on the murder of Darnley, it's almost impossible to untangle that event from so much else in Mary's life, and so the book also treats their marriage, her possible affair with Bothwell, the murder of Rizzio etc etc. My main criticism is that in her discussion of the sources at the start Weir states she is basing her interpretation on Nau's `official' account, as if this is somehow unbiased and objective reporting. But she also admits that Nau's account probably came to him from Mary when he was acting as her secretary - not so unbiased after all then. How this is more objective than what she calls the `hostile' sources isn't tackled at all.

My second, broader criticism is that Weir appears to believe in her unproblematic ability to uncover, for once and for all, the `truth' of Darnley's murder. In her thought world there appears to be no room for possibilities, probabilities, no nuances and no alternatives - despite the fact people have been arguing over this question ever since it happened over 400 years ago.

And yet despite all this, Weir's Mary is not significantly different from the other Marys who have come down to us through history.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An in depth study. 29 Jun. 2003
Format:Paperback
Befeore I go any further let me say this is a truly excellent book. Having said that I can now be a little more critical. The book essentially splits into 3 parts. An introduction to Mary and the build up to her marriage with Darnley, the marriage to darnley and his murder and finally Mary's imprisonment and execution in England. I think this is a mistake. The book is essentially an in depth study of Darnley's murder. If it had stayed with this area of speciality it could have been reduced from 600 to 450 pages and not lost any if its impetus. We would also had greater focus. The first and third parts are general overviews, whereas the main part of the book is a very detailed account. The two styles sit uneasily with each other.
When we get to the main account of Darnley and his murder from being easy going, the book becomes hard work. It is extremely detailed and often difficult to work out who is who with so many characters entering the plot. However the author writes superbly and manages to tie up this immense level of detail in a highly readable manner. It is extremely well researched and very careful in it's dealings with highly biased source material. Alison's Weir's conclusions on Mary and the murder of Darnley hardly rock the boat, but nevertheless this is a readable and highly detailed account of a most interesting historical event.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By C. Ball TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
The murder of Lord Darnley at Kirk o'Field is one of the most celebrated mysteries in Scottish history, and with Alison Weir being one of the most well-known historians writing today, I was looking forward to reading this.

I've always approached Weir's books with a hefty dose of caution - she's never been shy of 'nailing her colours to the mast' when it comes to her subjects so I was prepared for a certain amount of bias. After all, all history is to a certain extent conjecture; we can never truly know what happened, only assemble a plausible story based on the evidence available to us. Weir certainly relies very heavily on primary sources, which is to be applauded, although I did find endlessly reading large chunks of arcanely-written letters and documents very quickly became tedious.

Without being more familiar with this era in history, I can hardly claim to be aware of sources ignored or refuted unfairly, facts presented in a specific light - but it doesn't require any level of familiarity to be aware that right from the beginning Weir is presenting the whys and wherefores of this whodunnit with the aim of exonerating Mary, and this necessarily requires a certain amount of accepting as fact something which just cannot be known - such as Archibad Douglas' role in the murder of Darnley. Weir repeatedly presents him as the man who actually did the deed, as those who plotted, planned, schemed, were present etc. But this simply cannot be taken as fact, there are so many conflicting reports and tales, and it is impossible at this remove to ever know exactly what happened as fact, just as it impossible to definitively convict or exonerate Mary.

Page after page of speculation presented as fact proved wearing, and I found this book a slog.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hard Going 7 May 2012
Format:Paperback
I have not read quite all of Ms Weir's books but I've read most of them. As I have written before, on these pages, she is responsible for getting me interested in Tudor history in the first place, many years ago.

On the whole I have found her books to be very readable and, despite what others have written, in my view, learned and authoritative.

Whilst I had naturally picked up a good deal of knowledge about Mary, Queen of Scots, from other books, I had not, hitherto, read a full biography of her life. I possess Antonia Fraser's book on Mary but this is one of the very few books, in fact I think the only book, in a very extensive Tudor collection, that I have never managed to read. One day I must attempt it again. But, in the meantime, this Weir effort is my first. I now realise it was not a good choice as a first.

It is very hard reading indeed being emersed in extreme detail that I had great difficulty in presevering with. I managed it, just, but I was left wishing I had started on a more general biography rather than one focusing in so much detail on the murder of Darnley.

Of course I knew that the Darnley episode was the fulcrum of this book - the subtitle makes this clear - but I nonetheless expected rather more on the rest of her life - especially in the latter period of her life when she was under house arrest in England.

Consequently I was a bit disappointed; but my main point would be that this was nothing like as readable as the other Weir books that I have read and, for that reason alone, I cannot not find it in myself to recommend it except perhaps to someone looking for an in depth analysis of the murder of Lord Darnley.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great condition and value for money
Published 2 months ago by ronnie
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent book and service.
Published 2 months ago by Terry C
5.0 out of 5 stars WILL BE a BRILLIANT READ!
I don't want to cheat anybody here because I haven't actually read all of this book yet. Even without reading reviews (anywhere), I would have bought this book... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Lou
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good, well written
Very good ,well written . No complaints.
Published 9 months ago by roberts
5.0 out of 5 stars mary queen of scots
another brilliant book by Alison weir. she keeps you interested from beginning to end. quite simply, this book tells you all about the life of mary queen of scotts.
Published 12 months ago by susan
4.0 out of 5 stars Mary Queen Of Scots: And The Murder Of Lord Darnley
The book progressively reveals a fascinating but turbulent time in history that was built on a web of lies, deceipt & treachery. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Valerie Thompson
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Weir's best
When I pick up an Alison Weir book I know that I'm in for a good time (this is my 4th book by Weir in a row. Read more
Published on 28 Jan. 2013 by Boyd Hone
4.0 out of 5 stars Mary Queen of Scots and the murder of Lord Darnley Alison Weir
Alison Weir's in depth research is evident in the reading of this book. It is not a book for you if you are looking for the romantic tale of the delightful young woman whom... Read more
Published on 2 Nov. 2012 by gail
4.0 out of 5 stars A marathon historical whodunnit
Alison Weir aims to revisit the murder of Lord Darnley and decides 'whodunit' - this is a real historical murder mystery. Read more
Published on 4 July 2012 by History Geek
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommends it for those who want to learn about English/Scottish...
Mary Queen of Scots was blessed with many gifts, but unlike Elizabeth, her contemporary and cousin in England, she did not have the right gifts to be able to reign as a medieval... Read more
Published on 22 Dec. 2010 by Rebecca
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