QUEEN OF SCOTS: The True Life of Mary Stuart

John Guy, Author . Houghton Mifflin $28 (581p) ISBN 978-0-618-25411-8

The story of Mary Stuart has been told in many contexts (most recently in Elizabeth and Mary , Forecasts, Dec. 8, 2003), but nowhere has she been defended more rigorously than in this new study. Guy, a fellow at Cambridge University and BBC consultant, describes Mary's formative years in France, but the heart of the book is her short reign in Scotland. Negotiations with Elizabeth Tudor over the succession in England and the shadow of Mary's final fate dominate the narrative, but while Guy effectively establishes that Elizabeth's chief minister William Cecil was Mary's true English enemy, what is most shocking is how suppliant he shows Mary to have been to Elizabeth. The most dramatic moments, however, are supplied by the Scottish nobles, who shifted alliances around her and colluded in kidnappings and assassinations. Though not the first to challenge Mary's femme fatale image, Guy does not even deign to discuss the accusation that she was romantically involved with her Italian secretary Rizzio and convincingly absolves her of involvement in the death of her second husband. He re-examines her actions and choices and offers a lively textual analysis of letters usually used as evidence against her. Yet he does not conclusively argue that she ruled from the head, and, in the end, the question of whether Mary Stuart ruled from her head or her heart appears beside the point. Guy's detailed account of the familial, political and religious machinations of the forces swirling around the queen suggests that it was not flaws in Mary's character but the entire constellation of circumstances that doomed her rule in Scotland and led to her execution. 16 pages of b&w photos. (Apr. 14)

Reviewed on: 02/23/2004
Release date: 04/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-06-058643-0
Paperback - 581 pages - 978-0-618-61917-7
Compact Disc - 978-0-06-058644-7
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