The Royal Stuarts: A History of the Family That Shaped Britain

Allan Massie. St. Martin’s/Dunne, $26.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-312-58175-6
In this smart history, Massie gives its due to the British dynasty that has long played second fiddle to the Tudors. A key Breton ancestor of the Stuart monarchs was appointed, circa 1124, High Steward of Scotland, a prestigious role that gave the Stewarts their family name (changed to Stuart by Mary, queen of Scots), and in which they served ably for eight generations. Robert II became the first, if ineffectual, Stewart king of Scotland in 1371. The five Jameses were men of unusual ability, and James IV’s marriage to Henry VIII’s sister led to the union of Scotland and England 100 years later. The deaths on the scaffold of Mary and her grandson Charles I, says Massie, lent their memory a nobility that their lives frequently lacked. James VI, an intelligent, canny politician, was patron of the King James Bible. The most intelligent, charming, and deceitful of Stuart kings, Charles II, was followed by his brother James, whose Catholicism cost him his throne. The Stuart dynasty ended on an inglorious note with the “politically insignificant” Mary II and her sister Anne, an “ordinary woman” who despite over a dozen pregnancies, failed to produce a living heir. Massie, a novelist (Caesar) and Spectator columnist, offers a delightfully opinionated but nuanced and action-packed history. Illus. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/2011
Release date: 12/20/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 370 pages - 978-1-250-02492-3
Paperback - 370 pages - 978-0-224-09100-8
Open Ebook - 384 pages - 978-1-4299-5082-4
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-1-84595-090-3
Hardcover - 370 pages - 978-0-224-08064-4
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