Top positive review
Mary Queen of Scots' Downfall
15 March 2018
The rather eventful death of Henry, Lord Darnley, second husband to Mary Queen of Scots, is probably the best known thing about Darnley to most people. But why his life, and his death were so important, and the impact that he had in death and living on both Scotland and England add up to much more than the character of this rather unpleasant man might suggest. The author is at great pains to explain all the whys and wherefores and does an exceedingly good job at it.
Darnley was the oldest son of Margaret Douglas, daughter of Margaret Tudor by her second marriage to Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus. Margaret Tudor was the eldest sister of Henry VIII, King of England. So, Darnley was related to the Tudor rulers of England, and thus Queen Elizabeth I, daughter of Henry VIII. But Darnley was also the son of Matthew Stuart, 4th Earl of Lennox, and thus directly bound by blood to one of the powerful families of Scotland. His roots were in both England and Scotland, and his destiny lay there, too.
The marriages of Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth of England were of vital importance to their subjects, and their countries. Religion, succession, and politics were what impelled their lords, and their own motivations, and security on the throne. Elizabeth played the game well; her cousin Mary Queen of Scots not so well.
Quite how carefully things were planned, quite how dangerously close to the scaffold people sailed in their schemings, is all laid out here. The author first covers in depth the background of the Lennoxes; the Earl, and Margaret Douglas; why their children were important to the succession of both England Scotland. The second part of the book covers the struggle for recognition to the succession as England’s ruler. In the third part, the schemes to marry Darnley to Mary, how wanted the marriage and why are discussed, and the outcome of that marriage. Then in part 4, the death of the King. Finally, in part 5, what happened afterwards; and why it all turned out the way it did.
This is a brilliant book. I knew the story of Mary Queen of Scots; I knew the story of Darnley; of the succession struggles in both Scotland and England; yet I found this book utterly enthralling, and riveting. It reads like a pacey thriller, and is hugely absorbing in interest. Thoroughly researched, beautifully written, and a real find; this book is definitely recommended.