Rating: 4 Stars
Having quite a background already on Mary, I did not expect anything new. What I did find, however, was beautiful photographs of Mary's portraits, her belongings, and the many buildings where she spent her life, both free and captive. I love Scotland deeply and it is always nice to see these places. I am especially fond of Stirling Castle, where Mary spent time.
As always, and I have said in many other reviews of this topic. Elizabeth I acted without authority and is guilty of murder, having signed the death warrant for a fellow sovereign who was never her subject, and thus she had no right to do so. Additionally, she is full of it - she knew full well that the moment she signed the warrant, the orders would be carried out, because her counselors couldn't wait to get rid of Mary and destroy the Catholic cause in England. Her behavior is disgusting and I can not understand why she remains so highly esteemed. But that is a whole different argument and I must stop, lest she take over this review and overshadow Mary.
The whole issue of the marriage to Bothwell troubles me - far more than whether or not Mary was complicate in Darnley's murder. Some say she went into the marriage willingly, but by her own words she did not. Mary made terrible choices for most of her adult life and it oddly makes sense to me that she would feel forced to marry Bothwell after having been raped, as any shred of control over her country that she had left would have been blown to smithereens if knowledge came to light that the queen had been raped. I think it is important to note that text makes mention of the fact that in captivity, Mary kept portraits of her first and second husbands, but she nothing from Bothwell. This to me speaks volumes, as it is pretty easy to see that Mary abhorred Darnley, his immaturity, his visits to brothels, his STD(s), and in general his spoiled and bratty behavior.
It saddens me that May was kept from her son, and that James did literally nothing to help his mother. I get that he was pretty much brainwashed his whole life into thinking that she was a terrible person, but she continued to show love and affection for him, sending him embroideries, verses, and jewels. I can appreciate James having Mary's later interred in a place much more suitable for an anointed queen, but it seems too little, too late. I understand having to stay on good terms with Elizabeth in order to inherit the crown on her death, but seriously? No one else had the claim he did, and even if she tried to bar him from succession, after she was dead there would be nothing she could do about it and he still would have been crowned king.
In conclusion, this is a nicely put together biography of a woman who had many difficult decisions to make in a very difficult time. She had few true allies or friends, trusted people she should not have (though these same people are those who should have supported and protected her. I'm looking at YOU, Moray!) Mary was wholly unequipped to rule such a volatile place as Scotland was at the time of her return. She did the best she could, especially in regards to religion, which was the biggest sticking point for everyone. Her life and death are tragic and she should be remembered accordingly.
I can't help it, I love showing off pictures from the trip my mom and I took to Scotland a few years ago. I fell in love with Edinburgh and the country as a whole. What a beautiful, wonderful place. All photos belong to me and were taken in Scotland in November of 2009.
Our first view of Edinburgh Castle, our first morning in Scotland. Mom and I were very anxious to see everything, had just dropped our things off at the Ben Doran (cutest and most comfortable B&B EVER.) We wasted no time falling in love with the city.
St Giles on the Royal Mile between Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace.
At Stirling, my favorite so far.
Stupid guy got in the way of Mary almost!
Leaving Stirling...we were there so long they'd already closed the gates!
In St Margaret's Chapel at Edinburgh Castle. The chapel is the oldest building in the city.
I have tons more pictures I could share, and probably will whenever I read a book about Scotland. It is such a beautiful country, I wish I could ive there, or at least visit more often.