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Mary, Queen of Scots, and the Murder of Lord Darnley

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  4,208 Ratings  ·  126 Reviews
BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Alison Weir'sMary Boleyn.

Handsome, accomplished, and charming, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, staked his claim to the English throne by marrying Mary Stuart, who herself claimed to be the Queen of England. It was not long before Mary discovered that her new husband was interested only in securing sovereign power for himself. Then,
ebook, 704 pages
Published December 18th 2007 by Random House (first published January 1st 2003)
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Jeffrey Keeten
May 04, 2016 Jeffrey Keeten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scotland
"En Ma Fingit Mon Commencement
In my end is my Beginning
Mary had this saying embroidered on her cloth of estate while in prison in England.

Mary was 6 days old when her father died and she was crowned Queen of the Scots. At age 15 she married Francis, dauphin of France, and he ascended the throne a year later. Just when events seemed to be going in Mary's favor Francis died after only 18 months as King. Mary was not that welcome in France due to fears she would make a play for the throne. She re
Jan 16, 2008 Katie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Alison Weir is a menance and probably the most disreputable and pathetic excuse for a historian alive today. She cannot let history be what it is, rather, she feels the need to reinvent the wheel every single time and tell you the truth that she alone has uncovered. Never mind that there are factual holes in her research so big the governator should be driving his Hummer through them, or that it is unlikely that Ms. Weir has been gifted with historical powers so extraordinary that she uncovers t ...more
C.S. Burrough
Jul 03, 2014 C.S. Burrough rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History readers
Alison Weir surpassed herself penning this tome, the first in my opinion to rival Antonia Fraser's 1969 Mary Queen of Scots. Via Mary Stuart runs the continuous line of succession, from Plantagenets & Tudors, down to England's current royals.

Mary has always polarised debate, first when alive and then, through the centuries, from the grave. Regardless which account we accept, she cannot be seen as entirely blameless for her unfortunate life. It's also beyond question that too much blinkered b
Oct 09, 2008 Heidi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is partly a biography of Mary Queen of Scots, and partly an indepth examination of the source material surrounding the explosive murder of her second husband, Lord Darnley, with some conclusions over who was involved.

I have been slowly ploughing through this over-long book. Although the title focusses on the murder of Lord Darnley, the early chapters are more of a biography as they go in great depth through Mary's early life and the actual murder comes quite late on in the book. Then t
Pete daPixie
I have encountered yet another historical work that bears accurately the maxim that truth is indeed stranger than fiction. I'm sure that the master of Scottish historical fiction, Sir Walter Scott would struggle to concoct a more dastardly series of plots that Alison Weir sets to untangle in her 2003 publication, 'Mary, Queen of Scots-and the Murder of Lord Darnley'. In fact it is a piece of Scott's verse which springs to mind, that sums up this book precisely. "Oh what a tangled web we weave, w ...more
Normally, I love Alison Weir's books. The reader can always count on extensive research and astute reasoning, but this one was a slog. We're talking about one of the most perplexing historical figures of all time in Mary, Queen of Scots and yet, it just dragged on. And on and on.

She was the bosom serpent. The 16th Century Princess Diana of her day. Emotional, needy, irrational, and limelight-loving, she just couldn't handle the heat. Her first husband was the King of France and her second was fo
Apr 09, 2008 Amanda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mary, queen, of, scots, dnf
Like a couple of other readers, I could not finish this book. I retreated at the half way mark. It is without doubt a well researched book, but I had a lot of trouble keeping up with the Scottish nobles, getting confused about the Huntley's, Hamilton's, Maitland's, Melville's, Moray's, and then they were all related by marriage at some point it seemed! I think that personally, I might be better served by reading historical fiction about Mary, as the personalities are better shown by dialogue and ...more
Apr 16, 2010 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a good book. I am a big fan of Alison Weir. This was about an episode in history that I was not very familiar with, and I learned that you have to be a brutal person to survive as a queen. I liked the book very much and plan to re-read it sometime in the future.
Steven Peterson
Nov 15, 2009 Steven Peterson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At the close of the book, author Alison Weir puts the matter in straightforward terms (Page 577): “Her [Mary’s:] tragedy was that she was in many respects innately unsuited for the role to which she had been born. Compared with her cousin Elizabeth, she was a political; innocent, and as such she was thrust into a situation in which a seasoned, hard-headed male ruler might have floundered.” And, indeed, the juxtaposition between Elizabeth and Mary is warranted.

This book, ostensibly, focuses on wh
The murder of Lord Darnley at Kirk o'Field is one of the most celebrated mysteries in Scottish history, and with Alison Weir being one of the most well-known historians writing today, I was looking forward to reading this.

I've always approached Weir's books with a hefty dose of caution - she's never been shy of 'nailing her colours to the mast' when it comes to her subjects so I was prepared for a certain amount of bias. After all, all history is to a certain extent conjecture; we can never trul
Sep 09, 2008 Su rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Alison Weir is one of those authors that I think I should love, but I don't.

I have read quite a bit about Mary Stuart, and wanted to read Ms. Weir's book to further my understanding of the Queen. The murder of Darnley is fascinating history, unfortunately this book is not. I found the book to be plodding and dry. I felt there was too much distance between the author and the subjects, as if Ms. Weir was going down a list and now it was time to write about Mary of Scotland. Ms. Weir unnecessarily
Mar 23, 2011 Jsmith1000 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many writer/filmmakers present Mary in this big, romantic, misunderstood role as a Queen caught in the middle of a tug of war for the throne of England, and she had a legitimate part to play in this saga. However, Mary was not the sharpest knife in the drawer when it came to leading a country, and she let her heart get in the way of leadership decisions for Scotland. This was one of the weak links that Elizabeth I played to her advantage.

Darnley was a fool and an idiot. Weir captures that precis
Mar 28, 2013 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Emily by: google search on Elizabeth I
An account of factionalized backstabbing in olde Westeros Scotland.

This is history written in the style of a Zagat's guide. I miss MacPherson's skepticism about the words that make it into the record, and his humanistic moral sense about the choices people made.

I also miss MacPherson's ability to tag his expansive cast of characters with memorable attributes to help the reader keep up with them. Weir offers the swamp of titles and houses, and while she helpfully keeps track for us of which are C
Dec 29, 2008 Pia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
had a tougher time with this one than some of her others. This felt like it was written as a history paper. I'll give her that she did her research, but she is so biased toward believing Mary innocent (which she well may be), but she doesn't let the reader draw the conclusion, she makes these arguments about how obvious something is given her argument/research. IMO Many of the facts she presented could've been interpreted differently, but she doesn't give the reader a chance, she plows forward w ...more
Michell Karnes
Jul 07, 2013 Michell Karnes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting read. It was full of facts refuting the common theory that Mary was involved in the murder of her husband and knowingly married of the murders. I did think Mary was an ineffective ruler and either completely ignorant of what was going on or had more suspicions that she acted on in the murder of Darnley. Which leads me to place more blame than the author in some ways does. I also don't excuse her behavior considering how Bothwell used her and her behavior concerning Elizab ...more
Sep 06, 2009 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-tudors
In the Introduction, Ms. Weir says the purpose of this book is to answer the question "...was Mary, Queen of Scots the instigator of, or a party to, the murder of her husband?" She proceeds to take a fresh and comprehensive look at the evidence to draw her conclusion. The result is an entertaining and engaging narrative in which she interprets the evidence in the context of the times.
Dec 27, 2012 Clarissa rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Finally! Oh lordy, I never thought such a short book could be so tortuous. The beginning was good, the end was good... but the middle? Talk about dragging out things that probably didn't need to be included. Oy!
Shonda Wilson
Weir loves this subject and she makes a pretty compelling case for her assertions involving Mary and Darnley's death...but with me being bias against Mary, I root against her...
For popular history Weir does OK, I would not use her as an academic source.
I waited about a week before writing my review because I wanted to think it through carefully and finish my reading of another slightly-more-recent look at Mary's life by John Guy (I highly recommend his biography, even over Fraser's!!). I'll be writing a lot of words as anyone who knows me knows that this is a pet interest but I'll begin with a more broad review. Following that, I'll type up more about some quibbles with her findings that will probably constitute "spoilers" (though I have no id ...more
Sep 28, 2016 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical-tudor
Very well written book. I had a hard time following at times, as I am not well acquainted with Scottish nobility and the people are always called by their titles, not actual names. Alison Weir has a great discussion of Mary's culpability in Darnley's murder, yet but the end she had put forth so many different theories that I had a difficult time extracting her conclusion. However, she does a great job of demonstrating how Elizabeth tricked Mary into marrying Darnley in hopes that he would destab ...more
John Findlay
Sep 07, 2016 John Findlay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Being of Scottish descent, I heard about Mary Queen of Scots from my father, but really didn't know anything about her. This book completely changed that. I learned that she lived one of the most fascinating and tragic lives that I have ever come across. The book is full of details, but also provides an analysis by the author of the highly conflicted record of her life. It was not an easy read because it was difficult to keep all the various nobles straight, and sometimes different names were us ...more
Dec 27, 2015 Frrobins rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book started out strong. I usually enjoy Alison Weir's biographies, and the earlier portions of the book that deal with Mary's early life were enjoyable and punctuated with wit and humor. It was when the matter of Lord Darnley's murder was broached that this book fell apart. In short, the organization was a mess!

Having read Weir's biography on Elizabeth I in which she tackles the suspicious death of Leicester's wife, Amy, I know Weir can do better.

She gives only a very cursory overview of t
May 02, 2010 Valeria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one took a LONG time to read. In the preface Weir apologizes for the amount of detail she puts into the book. When I saw that, I thought "Well, she always puts a lot of detail into her books, so what is the big deal?" but this time it was almost too overwhelming.

The book was 577 pages, with tiny print, and was a strain to read. Took me, as moderately quick reader, nearly 2 full weeks, with a couple of nights off, to finish. The information was awesome to have, definitely puts a whole new s
This is not only one of my favorite Alison Weir historical works but also one of my favorite books, in general. All 688 pages of it (I read the hardcover). The overwhelming (but in a positive way) level of research, organization, sleuth-like discoveries, and yet cake batter smoothness of this book results in the perfect combination of informational read and entertainment.

Certainly a page turner, the only thing that kept me taking breaks while reading is that I didn't want to finish it! I've alw
Jan 04, 2015 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is very well written and has a strong voice behind it, but definitly puts the authenticity of the Casket Letters in a bad light. Overall the author did very thorough research for this book and it is packed with hundreds of details of everything from the murder to the Casket Letters. An interesting read.
Weir says about her conclusion, “Even after extensive research, I believed, as I began to write this book, that Mary was guilty. But when I came to analyse the source material in depth,
May 28, 2012 Becky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alison Weir has again done a wonderful job of retracing the historical evidence of a long standing mystery, peeling away the propaganda and political blame game to find the evidence for who was truly responsible for Lord Darnley's murder. And yet even she may have been outwitted here--James Stewart, Earl of Moray always hovers above the action, never implicated, never in the wrong place, quietly benefiting from every turn of events, yet without a shred of evidence of his hand.

Spoiler Alert - it
Not was I expecting. I bought this book thinking it would be something like the work of Margaret George. After realizing that it read more like a history text than fiction, I was still open to the idea of finishing the novel. Unfortunately, history texts are much more organized. It is dense and well written, but the information could have been presented better. There are points at which events that will come in the future are mentioned, but not explained. There is no flow or smoothness to the ch ...more
Dec 02, 2011 Linnea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book - I love Alison Weir. You might say I'm a "Weir"do! I've read several of her books and have always been pleased at the end, like my brain is happy to be receiving so much information. She researches so thoroughly - I love reading the bibliographies. I intern at a library and came across the History of Edinburgh published in the 16th century and wondered if she used that as a source and sure enough, it was there! We all know the Mary Story so I shant rehash it here. Her ...more
Sunny Johnson
Sep 26, 2016 Sunny Johnson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very scholarly work and I have now read it three times, so detailed is it. It presents an unbiased account of Mary's life and the research is incredibly thorough and painstakingly achieved. Letters are examined microscopically as are the characters in Mary's privileged, unfortunate, brave, bold and reckless life. When I first read it I went back and re-read Antonia Fraser's (also excellent but rather more biased) biography of Mary. Between these two accounts of her life the truth lies ...more
WOW! The research done for this book was fantastic. Weir does a good job of looking at all of the information available and extracting what was needed to 'solve' the mystery of Darnley's murder. For me, the sad thing was, the information tended to bog down the book. Make sure you check out the list of lords from the beginning of the book and the royal houses from the back. I kept track of a few of the 'principal' players and tended to gloss over the others. I enjoyed the book but have to say, I ...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

Alison Weir (born 1951) is a British writer of history books for the general public, mostly in the form of biographies about British kings and queens. She currently lives in Surrey, England, with her two children.

Before becoming an author, Weir worked as a teacher of children with special needs. She received her
More about Alison Weir...

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