Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Stewart Dynasty

Rating: 3 Stars


So, up until the last line of the book, literally the last line, I wasn't sure if Ross actually LIKED any of the Stewarts he wrote about. Seriously. He spent 305 pages taking potshots at them throughout history. But then he gives us this, the very, very last line:

"Irrepressible in life, long after their mortal remains have crumbled to dust the remarkable family lives on in the imaginations of all who are fascinated by the extraordinary piece of work that is man."

So, at least he called the family remarkable?

Even so, he also called many ineffectual, even stupid. And can't forget sexual. Apparently pretty much almost all of them were quite, shall we say, amorous. Unfortunately however, the last generations proved to be far less so than their ancestors, and thus the Stewart line came to a quiet end in 1807.

I have felt a deep affinity for Scotland for a long time, yet have known relatively little of the kings who came before Mary Queen of Scots - herself a tragic and maligned figure who can't be solely blamed for her shortcomings as queen. She was, after all the darling of the French court and was doted upon for years before being basically exiled back to her country of birth thanks to her formidable former mother in law, Catherine de Medici. I found this to overall be a decent work of the Stewart family, though I can't say for certain how accurate it all is, as it is the first real study of the Stewarts I have done (besides of Mary herself so far). And there were certainly facts about Mary and her son James VI/I that are no longer considered correct - this text having been published in 1993. Certainly whole books can and have been devoted to individual monarchs of the House of Stewart, so I would consider this an introduction and not an in-depth look. It is, of course, difficult to provide EVERY DETAIL of 600+ years of a dynasty in 300 pages, but this is an interesting attempt to introduce them to new readers.

One detail I can't help but notice, though, one glaring omission: any mention of the King James Version of the Bible. Perhaps I am mistaken, perhaps I somehow missed it among all the milieu of James' court, but I do not recall it being mentioned. Kind of a strange thing, considering it is without a doubt one of the most important books ever published. 

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