Mary Queen of Scots

Mary Queen of Scots

Mary Queen of Scots

Mary Queen of Scots

Synopsis

In this new biography of one of the most intriguing figures of early modern European history, Retha Warnicke, widely regarded as a leading historian on Tudor queenship, offers a fresh interpretation of the life of Mary Stuart, popularly known as Mary, Queen of Scots. Setting Mary's life within the context of the cultural and intellectual climate of the time and bringing to life the realities of being a female monarch in the sixteenth century, Warnicke also examines Mary's three marriages, her constant ill health and her role in numerous plots and conspiracies. Placing Mary within the context of early modern gender relations, Warnicke reveals the challenges that faced her and the forces that worked to destroy her. This highly readable and fascinating study, will pour fresh light on the much-debated life of a central figure of the sixteenth century, providing a new interpretation of Mary Stuart's impact on politics, gender and nationhood in the Tudor era.

Excerpt

On 8 February 1587 with two English soldiers supporting her under her arms, the crippled Mary Stewart, queen of Scots, encountered Andrew Melville, the master of her household, at the entrance to the execution hall at Fotheringhay Castle. During their brief conversation, she asked Melville to testify to the world that she died a true woman to her religion and a true woman of Scotland and France. Although her English succession rights were important to her, she clearly identified herself in those last critical moments as a Catholic of Scotland and France. Mary’s final thoughts focused on her lineage and faith, not her alleged romantic marriages in Scotland that culminated in her long English imprisonment and ultimately her violent, tragic death.

By contrast, beginning even in Mary’s lifetime, her defenders and detractors have mostly been more concerned with the formation and dissolution of those marriages than with her self-identification and understanding of her royal responsibilities and religious commitments. In 1570 John Leslie, bishop of Ross, her ambassador to England, was the first to deny in print that the imprisoned queen had aided and abetted the murder of her second husband, Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, in order to marry James Hepburn, fourth earl of Bothwell, his assassin and her abductor. About two years later, a treatise, written by George Buchanan, a Protestant humanist and Mary’s former tutor, was published to counter Leslie’s defense. Depicting her as an evil, lecherous . . .

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