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Mary, Queen of Scots by Gordon Donaldson

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The biography that is being reviewed is Mary, Queen of Scots by Gordon Donaldson. Mary Stuart, was born at Linlithge Palace on December 8, 1542, sixs days later she became Queen of Scotland. Mary became Queen of France and soon her greediness grew and she wanted to take over England. Mary was unwilling to stay in France, so she went back to Scotland. There her second husband died and she was imprisoned in England for the suspicion of the murder. Mary had a bad ending to her life. Mary got caught in attempting an assassination of Queen Elizabeth for which she was beheaded on February 8, 1587. In conclusion, Mary had a hard life trying to keep her thrones.

The first chapter in the book discusses the reign of King James V, father of Mary Stuart. He became King of Scotland at the age of one after his father’s death at the Battle of Flodden. His marriage to princess Madeleine ended after her sudden death, and James then married Mary of Guise-Lorraine in 1538. This marriage cemented the Alliance between Scotland and France but worsened relations with England leading to the war with Henry VIII, which ended in Scottish defeat in 1542. James V died in Falkland Palace, on December 14, 1542, “As a worn-out, desperate man, at the age of thirty years”. His daughter Mary, just six days old, was his successor.

In chapter two Mary, Queen of Scots was being educated in France, where she was sheltered from the danger of Scotland, England and France and their constant bloodshed. During Mary’s childhood, France, England, and Scotland fought over religious decisions and particularly over who should control the church. At the end of the chapter, the “Book of Discipline”, comes into effect on setting up a regional organization for the Church.

In the beginning of chapter three, Mary is eighteen years old, married and then widowed, and she is Queen of Scotland and France. The King of England, Francis, is dying, and Mary has the thirst for more power by trying to become Queen of England. Mary’s sister-in-law, Elizabeth, also finds the idea of being Queen tempting but by being illegitimate by birth, Mary feels she has the upper hand. She marries Lord Darnley, her English cousin, and is infatuated with him in the beginning, but she soon starts to dislike him and refuses his demands for crown matrimonial. Darnley becomes jealous of Mary’s most trusted fri...

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...itness the execution of Sir John Gordon in 1562, faced her own end with calm, courage, and dignity”.

The strengths of the book are very apparent. The book provides an in depth description of Mary Stuart from her appearance, to the sports in which she liked to play. Also, the book shows pictures of the castles in which Mary stayed in and also of Mary and her first husband, Francis II. In addition, this book can creatively make you visualize specific events that occurred in Mary’s life.

The one major weakness of the book was that it was a to informative for the average reader. By describing the many ruling families of England, France, and Scotland, this book proved to be quite confusing in recognizing which family belonged to which country. Also, the author seemed to jump from one time period to the next without any flowing text.

I feel that this book should mainly be read by above-average reading level students in high school/ college or by people interested in that particular time period. I enjoyed reading about Mary Stuart and her troubled life. It was sometimes hard to grasp the content, however, when I did comprehend the material, it was quite interesting.
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