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Mary Queen of Scots (Medieval Women Boxset)

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  7,516 ratings  ·  201 reviews
Author of Marie Antoinette

She was the quintessential queen: statuesque, regal, dazzlingly beautiful. Her royal birth gave her claim to the thrones of two nations; her marriage to the young French dauphin promised to place a third glorious crown on her noble head.

Instead, Mary Stuart became the victim of her own impulsive heart, scandalizing her world with a foolish passion...more
Paperback, 568 pages
Published September 1st 1993 by Delta (first published 1969)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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I’ve never read a nonfiction book about Mary Stuart, and the last (and, I think, only) fiction book I’ve read about her was back in elementary school, when I read her book from the Royal Diaries series. (I think it was called Mary, Queen of Scots: Queen Without a Country or something like that, and I remember not liking it very much.) What I knew about her going into this book was taken almost entirely from Elizabeth-centric history books, which obviously don’t always show Mary in the best light...more
Helen (Helena/Nell)
I won’t hiver-haver here: this is a wonderful book. From about page twenty onwards (it took a little while to get me into the swing of things) I was riveted. I arrived at page 691, on my third day of reading at 1.30 a.m., having been unable to put the volume down for the final three or four hours. As I lay in bed at the end of each day of reading, my mind returned to this astonishing woman, who was a Queen in the sixteenth century, and acquired mythic status. Which she deserved—which indeed she...more
I have to admit that before reading this, I mainly knew Mary Queen of Scots from the film Elizabeth, where she was presented in a minor part as a sensual French Catholic traitor prolonging a bloody war with England.
In actuality, her story is almost more fascinating than that of Elizabeth, her cousin: Mary serves as Queen of France until her husband the King dies, when they're both barely 20. She returns to Scotland as Queen. But Scotland is still very medieval, plus it's protestant and she's Cat...more
I hesitate recommending this book because the writing is often dull and the author has an annoying habit of placing latin and french quotes without a translation. But in the end I do recommend this book because the story of Mary Queen of Scots tragic life is compelling. Twice a Queen, first of France than of Scotland. Mary was almost six foot tall in an age when five feet for woman was average. Beautiful, athletic, pampered, intelligent, naive and a magnet for misfortune. Her first husband died...more
Erik Graff
Dec 06, 2012 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mary fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: biography
This tome represents an impressive amount of research--too much if one expects a quick and easy read. While the portrayal is sympathetic, the picture which emerges of Queen Mary is not very positive. She was, as might be expected, spoiled, selfish and adolescent, certainly not one who might have been competent as an autocrat unless shepherded by ministers. As it was, she was poorly guided, both by her supposed allies and by her own unregulated desires. I was reminded of the late Princess of Wale...more
There are no words to describe how much I love this book! I don't know how many times I've read it but each time I do it leaves me with a new feeling. Although a historical study, the book reads like a good novel. The writing is compassionate, thought-provoking as well as chillingly gritty. Antonia Fraser has written a complete account of Mary Stuart, a character analyses that was sadly lacking until she first tackled the subject forty-one years ago. What she writes is the story of a woman who i...more
Mar 06, 2009 Kelly marked it as to-read
Shelves: history-british
I want to read this because I want to answer the question, 'Why is everyone so fascinated by this damn woman??'. I've never liked her. I've always thought she was stupid, petty, petulant and self-indulgent. I pity her, but I've never respected her in the least. She seems to have some rabid fans. I'm curious as to why. Perhaps Fraser, whose voice I really like in her stories of Henry VIII's wives, will be able to explain it to me.
Mary is cast in a very understandable and sympathetic light. The author does a marvelous job of showing Mary’s intelligence, courage, queenly bearing, and strength, while also including her education, style, travels, appointments, involvement in games and sports, her reading, political stances, her choice of clothes and jewelry, and motivations in her choice of husbands. Mary is brought thoroughly to life by the author’s skill in portraying the historic woman and equally the feminine woman, the...more
Charlotte M. Liebel
Jul 08, 2011 Charlotte M. Liebel rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: British History
Magnificent. Detailed historical drama of Mary Queen of Scots. Gripping story of a brave woman who had to endure an end sentence in death and who, ultimately, lived in squalid surroundings. The last few pages were dear and touching ~ particularly disheartening and tragic.

I loved reading this book. The writing was so vivid as to become aware and to share the joys and tragedies of Mary Queen of Scots.

~Charlotte Liebel
This sprawling, fascinating book is the most appealing & exhaustive look at the famous (or infamous) Mary Queen of Scots that I have read. It shows why Lady Antonia Fraser is truly a past master at the art of making history into something so richly gripping that fiction just can't touch it. I feel that it will appeal to people who are either serious history junkies or people who are just interested in reading more about this tragic offshoot of the Tudor dynasty, destroyed by her own family b...more
Maia B.
Once again, I have dithered for minutes over what rating to give this book. Four, for its excellent research, bright writing, and obvious love of history? Or two, for its sometimes slow pace, untranslated French and Latin, and positively biased viewpoint on Mary herself?

So I settled on three, as so often before. That said, it may deserve more than that. It really is written very well; Antonia Fraser is not only a marvelous historian, she's a great writer. She writes easily and cleverly; the dry...more
I do not read a lot of non-fiction, becasue often times I find the way non-fiction books read, tends to be tedious and dry and feel a bot text book like, but I am interested in history and I do try and expand out my reading experiences.

I have to say that I thought Fraser did a wonderful job with this book, it read almost like a novel for me, something that rarely happens with non-fiction. It was such a captivating and engaging story from start to finish. I was a bit daunted at the prospect of r...more
Ruth Ann
Antonia Fraser is one of my favorite authors. This book about the fabled Mary Queen of Scots is a real heartbreaker--like that poor Other Boleyn Girl a generation earlier, Mary Queen of Scots was used and then abused by the people who were supposed to support and protect her.

Unlike Mary Boleyn, she did not have the smarts to survive the intrigues of nobility. Time after time, she chose the wrong man to champion her, took the low road, and antagonized people who could have helped her.

After I rea...more
Aug 05, 2010 Slayermel rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoys detailed facts over just pure story telling
Well I have finally finished this book; it only took me 28 days (that was pure sarcasm by the way).

Let’s start off with all the positives about this book.

Antonia Fraser loves detail and it comes through, she really does her research and that definitely impressed me. I learned things about Mary Queen of Scots that I probably would have never thought to look up, but was nice to know, the subtleties which really bring a character from history to life. Not to mention I enjoyed learning of all the h...more
Carol Morgan
I read this book years ago, yet something about the memory of reading it haunts me still. As I read it, I felt I was walking alongside Mary through her life, but with the benefit of a time-traveler guide who secretly gave me background and perspective not available to Mary herself. It is an eerie story about a privileged woman who was unable to master her station in life. As another reviewer said, the story is reminiscent of the late Princess of Wales in many ways, although of course Mary's glor...more
After I read the Steel Bonnets, by Malcolm Fraser (no relation, I think) I wanted to know more about the 16th/17th century Scottish Borderlands. The socio-religio-political chaos that existed in the Debatable Lands also played out in the perils of pauline melodrama that was Mary Queen of Scots' life. In the span of ~18 months, her husband carved up her lover before her very eyes, she gave birth to James VI of Scotland (who was to become James I of England), she spent 3 months in the Debatable La...more
Bev Hankins
Jul 12, 2012 Bev Hankins marked it as did-not-finish

I'm only about 1/8 of the way through this, and I must say that so far it is boring me silly. I'm reading it for my Birth Year Challenge and the biggest questions in my mind is "Why did Antonia Fraser have to publish this in 1969?" and "What made me put it on my challenge TBR list?" Actually, I can answer that last one...I've always been fascinated by the history of the British Isles and I'd heard about this book long ago and far away. When it popped up on a list of books for my birth year, I th...more
I wanted desperately to like this book. I respect Antonia Fraser's intense research and her devout efforts to portray history accurately. As a historian, she is marvellous. However, despite her efforts, this book was a slog and failed to appeal to me as a reader. Though Fraser tried hard, this history was not engaging, nor interesting or even mildly fun to read, despite the subject matter. This book was a chore for me and I struggled to get through it.

One of my main criticisms of this work was...more
Hamburg - Frankfurt - Hamburg - enough time to get a serious headstart - then one whole day lounging in cafés and beside the Alster... Mary Stuart is depicted in great detail and the author tries to give enough detail and background to support her view on Mary Stuart´s life. In her view the woman can´t go wrong and if she does there always seems to be good reason - that gives the impression as if the author has tweaked the whole thing a little in her favor. Whatever - very readable biography.
Remember that time you thought your closest cousin was trying to have you assassinated and you thought it might be a good idea to execute her (after wrongfully imprisoning her for nineteen years)? Don't bother, 'cause you're going to die childless and her son is going to take over your throne, thus ensuring the survival of her line--not yours--for at least thirteen generations.

That's what I got out of this book. Oh, and also that rebel lords aren't nearly so fun as they sound.
Lynne Stringer
I haven't read anything else on Mary Queen of Scots, so I have no comparison to draw when it comes to the quality and factual information in this book. However, I found it informative and well written. It was interesting to learn more about the queen who was considered such a threat to Protestantism just by her existence.
A review of the life of Mary from a decidedly pro-Mary angle it was nonetheless an interesting look at an historical figure about whom I knew little.
Elizabeth Blake
I love reading books about English history. Antonia Fraser is one of my favorite authors. If you like English history, you'll like this book.
This book was very good for a biography. I find most biographies to be a bit dry and tedious to read so the fact that Fraser wrote this with many adjectives and almost biased opinions made it seem more like a novel, which I enjoyed. I learned a lot about Mary, Queen of Scots and advanced my knowledge of the 1500s royals greatly. I would have liked if all of the passages were translated and disliked having to google translate some quotes that we're written in French. Also, I feel the book would h...more
Definitive. Because it was originally written more than 40 years ago, I'll forgive her the comment about the 'twisted' Richard III... I don't know what scholarship and discoveries could have come up in the intervening years that would supplant this. Sympathetic (such an unhappy life this woman had!), logical, and also gracefully written. I have owned the hardcover since it first came out, but wanted to get it on Kindle so I could read it whenever and wherever I felt like it, and it did the trick...more
Historical accounts with a bit of intrigue . . .
Don't ever put your fate in the hands of others!
Michela Marie Mifsud
A heavy read for's definitely not for bedtime as one has to be focused and attentive in order to grasp the history...also a basic knowledge of British history would not do harm in reading this book, as is perhaps the norm when reading such biographies. The story of this sad, unfortunate queen is of great interest to all lovers of history. It is riddled with tragedies and injustices and while reading one perhaps asks himself how much more this queen could have endured especially during...more
C.S. Burrough
Aug 14, 2014 C.S. Burrough rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: History readers
Nobel Laureate Lady Antonia Fraser's rare combination of formidable historical knowledge and exquisite penmanship makes this book a supreme standalone piece.

For this, her first major publication, she was awarded the 1969 James Tait Black Memorial Prize. The 40th anniversary edition was published in 2009, two years before she was elevated to Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2011 New Year Honours for services to literature.

Few of Lady Fraser's other historical biograp...more
Fraser's book is a tome and like any tome, is chock-full of detail. While I definitely learned a lot about the overall arch of the tragic life of the Queen of Scots, I didn't absorb much of the finer detail, about her life or even the society and times in which Queen Mary was embedded. Some of that may have been because that finer detail was never included, despite the length of this book. Fraser had the annoying habit of including Latin and French phrases with absolutely no translation as well...more
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REIGN - Francis Vs Sebastian 1 9 Nov 22, 2013 02:13PM  
  • Mary Queen of Scots and The Murder of Lord Darnley
  • Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart
  • Catherine of Aragon
  • Edward VI: The Lost King of England
  • Nell Gwyn: Mistress to a King
  • Margaret Beaufort: Mother of the Tudor Dynasty
  • Arbella: England's Lost Queen
  • Great Harry
  • Elizabeth I
  • The First Queen of England: The Myth of "Bloody Mary"
  • Mary Tudor: The Spanish Tudor
  • After Elizabeth: The Rise of James of Scotland and the Struggle for the Throne of England
  • Bess of Hardwick: First Lady of Chatsworth, 1527-1608
  • The Sisters of Henry VIII: The Tumultuous Lives of Margaret of Scotland and Mary of France
  • Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens
Lady Antonia Margaret Caroline Fraser, DBE (born 27 August 1932), née Pakenham, is a British author of history, novels, biographies and detective fiction. She is the widow of the 2005 Nobel Laureate in Literature, Harold Pinter (1930–2008), and prior to his death was also known as Antonia Pinter.

(from Wikipedia)
More about Antonia Fraser...
Marie Antoinette: The Journey The Wives of Henry VIII Love and Louis XIV: The Women in the Life of the Sun King The Warrior Queens The Weaker Vessel

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“Darnley, who, like Banquo's ghost, seemed to play a much more effective part in Scottish politics once he was dead than when he was alive.” 3 likes
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