Queen of Scots

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9780114931223: Queen of Scots

A very enjoyable, nicely illustrated book on one of royalty's most captivating personalities: Mary, Queen of Scots. Her rivalry with Queen Elizabeth I, over Mary's claim to the throne of England, ultimately led to her execution and martyrdom.

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From the Publisher:

CLASSIC LIFE OF MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS REISSUED
DESCRIPTION:

Rosalind K Marshall’s Queen of Scots, first published in 1986, quickly established itself as the standard life of Mary, the most romantic and tragic of all Scotland’s monarchs. Her dramatic account owes its immediacy and power to the fact that it is closely based throughout on the original sixteenth-century sources, and tells the story using, wherever possible, the actual words spoken and written by the Queen herself. Now it is available again in a new, revised edition.

The life of Mary, Queen of Scots, was full of incidents and personalities which at the time and ever since have captured the imagination and divided the opinion of the public. After her sensational imprisonment and shocking death in 1597 so many questions were left unanswered. Was Mary a promiscuous murderer, or the innocent, misunderstood victim of evil men? Did she love David Riccio, or merely use him as a pawn in her intrigues? Was she a party to the murder of her second husband, Lord Darnley? Why did she then marry the Earl of Bothwell, the man everyone believed was guilty of the crime? Was she a dangerous enemy of Elizabeth constantly plotting her downfall, or an unjustly accused kinswoman desperately fighting for her own survival?

Some of these questions may never be resolved, but in this compellingly readable book a wealth of evidence is presented which will enable readers to make up their own minds. The narrative is complemented by some two hundred illustrations, most of them in colour, of the people, places and objects associated with Scotland’s most enigmatic monarch. Whatever mysteries remain, one thing comes across unmistakably: the sense of a passionate and individual woman, as real in her emotions and responses as if she were a contemporary of our own. What Rosalind Marshall achieves in her unforgettable portrait is to make Mary, Queen of Scots, live again for the modern reader.

EXCERPT:

Nothing the English commissioners said could shake her calm but by the end of that first afternoon they were all shouting agitatedly at her in a storm of accusations and she looked visibly shaken when she retired to her apartments.

The next morning, she addressed the court herself, insisting once more that they had no right to try her because she was a monarch, and telling them many times that she was innocent of any assassination plot. After making a final request for a hearing before Elizabeth, she rose to her feet and with great dignity told her accusers that she forgave them for what they had done. She then crossed over to where Walsingham sat and said a few words to him, before turning again to the assembled company. In a quiet voice she asked God to pardon them for treating her ‘somewhat rudely,’ and then with a small, ironic smile, she added, ‘May God keep me from having to do with you again.’ With that, she walked slowly from the hall.

The courtiers rode back to London and on 25 October they reassembled in the Star Chamber at Westminster to announce their verdict. The Queen of Scots was guilty of plotting the assassination of Elizabeth, they said. Both houses of parliament then presented an address to the English Queen, begging her to order Mary’s execution.

While Mary waited calmly at Fotheringhay, sewing, reading English history, arguing with Paulet and attempting to cheer her own household, Elizabeth tried to nerve herself to sign her cousin’s death warrant. It was not sentiment which made her hesitate, for she believed that Mary really had aimed at her death. She delayed because by executing a fellow monarch she would create a dangerous precedent, and she was nervous of the reaction from abroad. Plagued by the conflict between her desire to eliminate a dangerous enemy and her fear of the consequences if she did, Elizabeth wept, argued and put off taking a decision until in the end her well-developed sense of self-preservation won the day.

On 1 February 1587 her secretary handed her a pile of papers. She went through them, signing each one with scarcely a glance, pretending that she did not know that the fateful document was among them. Afterwards she would claim that she had signed it by mistake, but in reality she knew exactly what she was doing and even at this late date she wrote to Paulet telling him of her disappointment that he had found no private means of shortening Mary’s life. Much as he disliked the Queen of Scots, Sir Amyas was outraged.

‘God forbid that I should make so foul a shipwreck of my conscience!’ he replied, whereupon Elizabeth cursed what she called his ‘daintiness’. During that week, a loud hammering was heard throughout Fotheringhay Castle as the carpenters built the scaffold. The Earl of Shrewsbury and other courtiers were arriving from London and on 7 February, after dinner, he, Paulet and two of their companions went to the Queen and read out her death warrant.

‘I thank you for such welcome news,’ she replied. ‘You will do me great good in withdrawing me from this world out of which I am very glad to go’, and she put her hand on a copy of the New Testament and swore that she was innocent of any crime. When she asked them when she was to die, no one had the courage to tell her until, at last, Shrewsbury in a broken voice murmured that the execution would take place the following morning.

REVIEWS:

‘A magnificently readable, well-documented book, that captures the mood of the times and shows how intrigue and expediency coloured the life of a nation… splendidly illustrated.’—Edinburgh Evening News

‘This short illustrated biography provides an authoritative and highly readable account of Mary’s tragic life.’—Scotland on Sunday

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY:

Dr Rosalind K Marshall is an award-winning professional historian and the author of many books and articles on Scottish history and personalities, including her highly successful Bonnie Prince Charlie.

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