Bestselling historian Alison Weir turns her attention to Mary, Queen of Scots and one of the great mysteries of the 16th century.
At midnight on February 9 1567, a violent explosion ripped apart Kirk oField, 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 Darnleys 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 Marys fate was sealed as much by the country of which she was monarch as by Elizabethan England.
Alison Weirs 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 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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.