So High a Blood: The Story of Margaret Douglas, the Tudor that Time Forgot

Morgan Ring. Bloomsbury, $35 (368p) ISBN 978-1-63286-605-9
In this quick-paced overview, Ring, a doctoral candidate in history at Cambridge, depicts a determined Tudor family survivor who eschewed tranquility in favor of scheming for the thrones of England and Scotland. Margaret Douglas’s calculated maneuvering resulted in the marriage between her son, Lord Darnley, and Mary, Queen of Scots, and the succession of their son, James VI of Scotland (and I of England). Ring intends to rescue Margaret from the popular role of overbearing mother to her “spoiled” son, but she provides little textual support for her claims. Mary, Queen of Scots, appears as a lightly drawn figure with hazy motives and Darnley seems almost an afterthought. The relationships between Margaret and the reigning Tudors takes center stage, especially the rash romantic entanglements and shifting court alliances. Still, it’s hard to sense Margaret’s charisma and the strategic abilities that allowed her to remain a claimant while repeatedly switching alliances as her family’s needs changed. Interestingly, Ring successfully argues that Margaret’s strong midlife adherence to Catholicism—after years of remaining privately Catholic—derived from the needs of her children, both living and buried. Ring’s work has its flaws, but it’s suitable for introductory reading on Margaret’s complex life. Agent: Anna Power, Johnson & Alcock (U.K.). (May.)
Reviewed on: 02/13/2017
Release date: 04/25/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
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