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Fascinating analysis of our shared English/Scottish history
on 20 August 2013
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. It is also full of detailed descriptions of the Scottish court during the late 15th and early 16th centuries, when it was clearly a vibrant and cultured place and not some desolate backwater.
The author's use of language is excellent, the illustrations are excellent, and this is as good an introduction to the life and times of Mary Queen of Scots as you will ever read.
Highly recommended reading.