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Book Review: Mary, Queen of Scots and The Murder of Lord Darnley

Mary, Queen of Scots and The Murder of Lord Darnley by Alison Weir

From the author of ‘The Six Wives of Henry VIII’ and ‘The Lady in the Tower’ comes this examination and defence of Mary, Queen of Scots concerning the murder of her second husband.

In 1567 Mary’s estranged husband Darnley died under mysterious and still unexplained circumstances. Mary was accused of holding no proper investigation and then to the shock of Europe she married the chief suspect Bothwell. This resulted in her people rising up against her; she lost her crown and fled to England never to see her country, child or freedom again.

This is a well written account of a turbulent time and shows how Mary was an inept ruler. It does not in my opinion clear her of murder. Weir provides many excuses for Mary’s bad judgment and inadequate Queenship.

But the bizarre circumstances of Darnley’s murder, the lack of investigation into the death of the king-consort and her astonishing marriage to the chief suspect in Darnley’s murder defy even Weir’s attempt to explain them away.

Mary comes across as a schemer with terrible judgment and no skills whatsoever at being a monarch. She was cosseted during her upbringing in France, she had health problems and was obsessed with the English throne and seemingly had no real interest in Scotland, she married Darnley seemingly because Queen Elizabeth I told her not too and then after marrying Bothwell refused to give him up.

Mary was an incessant schemer, she wanted Queen Elizabeth’s throne more than her own, she plotted against her own son and was a manipulative idiot right to the end. Mary, Queen of Scots was a failure as a Queen. She lost three husband and three kingdoms.

She probably did order the murder of Darnley who was a syphilis ridden idiot. Weir defends Mary on the charge of murder but does admit Mary had bad judgement. The very fact that Mary married Darnley at all is proof of that. This is good but Mary’s innocence is not proved.
Tags: book review, reign, the tudors
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