My Heart is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots
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My Heart is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  721 ratings  ·  64 reviews
A long-overdue and dramatic reinterpretation of the life of Mary, Queen of Scots by one of the leading historians at work today.

She was crowned Queen of Scotland at nine months of age, and Queen of France at sixteen years; at eighteen she ascended the throne that was her birthright and began ruling one of the most fractious courts in Europe, riven by religious conflict and...more
Paperback, 574 pages
Published August 2nd 2004 by Harper Perennial (first published January 1st 2004)
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Interesting insight on what Mary was really like but the author is VERY biased in her favour and bends over backwards to show her in a favourable light, often to the detriment of others. I wonder how he feels about the recent revelations by medical historians that for it to be apparent that Mary had miscarried Bothwell's twins (rather than a single baby), she must have been at least five months pregnant - 16th century medicine would not have been able to discern twin foetuses before that stage....more
Aug 01, 2009 Mrsdarcy rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone more interested in hagiography than the truth
Shelves: history
Good read but too biased and tries to present Mary as a far better person than the evidence suggests she could possibly have been.

What are we to think of a woman who, when the husband she loathes is murdered, gives his horse and some of his clothes to the man EVERYONE says is the killer?

What should we think when she refuses to allow more than a "show" trial at which the court is surrounded by armed men employed by the defendant, who threatens to kill anyone who speaks out of turn?

What should...more
Mary Queen of Scots, when she's not being muddled up with Mary Tudor, is generally known as a scandalous Queen. She is the emotional, flighty counterpart to Elizabeth I's steely calculation. John Guy does a wonderful job of rubbishing this stereotypical view.

He is obviously a fan of Mary and does his best to show the other, lesser known facets of her character. Unlike her English cousin, Mary became the Queen of Scotland when she was only six days old and she left Scotland to marry the French Da...more
Jan 15, 2008 Katie rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who don't like stupid theories
I hate most of the contemporary literature on Mary. It's all a bunch of did she or didn't she a. murder Darnley b. plot to murder Darnley c. write the casket letters d. consent to marry Bothwell e. plot against Elizabeth f. die a tragic martyr g. all of the above. Let it rest, people (Alison Weir, I AM LOOKING AT YOU). And yes, Guy takes an opinion on all of these subjects, but stays within reasonable factual boundaries and doesn't spend chapters and chapters on ridiculous theories about Darnley...more
Nick Sweeney
This is a very detailed look at the story of Mary Stuart. I always looked upon her as a tragic figure, churned helplessly up in her times and circumstances, but this book makes that into a convenient myth. The truth was that Mary was as much of a player in what led to her ultimate downfall as all of the other people around her. In her early life she was up against the machinations of the french court, led by her own Guise family - her mother was the scheming Mary de Guise - who inflated Mary's s...more
Danielle Reily
I found this in-depth biography absolutely fascinating. I love Tudor history, and of course I have read about Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots before. She has always been more of a background character in the books I've read. I knew the basic facts of her life and death and how she impacted the English monarchy, but there is a lot more to her than I expected. I had made a lot of assumptions regarding her and her actions as a queen.
John Guy goes through all of the contemperary records and evidence i...more
This is a very thorough and interesting account about Mary Queen of Scots. The author, John Guy, attempts to answer the questions of the murder of her husband Lord Darnley, the marriage of Mary to Bothwell, and her plots against Elizabeth I. The author depicts Mary not as a "femme fatale" as many other historians have. He believes that she did not conspire to murder her husband. What is interesting is the extent to which the author explains the plot against Darnley and the whole marriage to Both...more
C S Burrough
May 20, 2014 C S Burrough rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History readers
An essential element of any historical biographer's task is to put colour into the cheeks of their subject, which Professor Guy effects with aplomb in this meticulously penned tome. This queen, who has has for centuries polarised commentariats, is a personal favourite, this being the approx twenty-something book of her I've relished. Each biographer depicts her as predominantly innocent or guilty. This one is firmly on Mary's side and puts his case supremely.

The details that divide on the Queen...more
Sarah Finch
A meticulously documented overhaul of the centuries of scurrilous myths surrounding Mary Queen of Scots. John Guy makes no bones about where his sympathies lie, and yet that strengthens rather than weakens the experience of this historical narrative. Mary comes alive to the point where I almost expected her to leap off the page and start reciting a Ronsard verse. The various factions of the Scottish lords are similarly well-drawn, and it is to Guy's credit that the confusion of the reader during...more
I enjoyed this book but found it difficult not to be furious with Mary's stupidity and short-sightedness, not to mention her vanity which allowed her to be easily led by similarly vein and ambitious men. Guy perhaps is a little in love with Mary and the book lacks incisiveness and impartiality because of it but it's still one of the best biographies I've read.
This was an enlightening historical account of Mary, Queen of Scots. The author, John Guy, brought her to life for me, and he intermingled factual writings along with many discrepancies written throughout the years. This book gives a detailed account of her life from childhood to death. It makes me wonder, what if? Very well written as a biography.
I did it. I read the whole book. I am very proud of myself. I have never not finished a book. It is very detailed which is what made it difficult for me. There are alot of characters with alot going on. Keeping it straight was hard. I may read it again just to make sure I got everything.
Jacob hurt
I originally bought this as an "anti-Elizabeth I" book. But, I really enjoyed it. I gave it 3 stars because it's really one-sided, and it tries to prove that Mary was a saint... yeah right. But very enjoyable.
Mary was in my estimation was still a nitwit, but I enjoyed this book immensely.
Robin Evans
I finally finished this book! Over 500 pages of very thoroughly researched information about Mary Stuart. The queen of Scotland by birth, later the queen of France by marriage, aspiring to be the queen of England too...she was ultimately imprisoned and later executed by Queen Elizabeth. I learned a great deal from this book, and if you like history you will enjoy it. The author is obviously partial to Mary and tries to clear her name in many instances, but does a great job of giving the facts fr...more
A Queen beheaded. Is it a result of her own doing or is she a victim of circumstances?

Every historian has certain innate biases and points of view he or she is wanting to discover or reveal. However, John Guy is an award winning historian/biographer of high caliber, and according to his research, the ill-fated Queen was as much a victim of conniving Scottish noblemen and English royal advisers as she was a scheming member of the Royal family.

From reading this book it comes to light that being a...more
Lauralee Jacks
Mary, Queen of Scots has captured many imaginations today. Indeed, the latest historical tv drama, Reign, focuses on the young life of Mary, Queen of Scots. She is portrayed in history as a femme fatale who uses her beauty and charms and manipulates those around her to get the throne of England. She is also portrayed as a failed ruler whose country would have been better had she never been queen at all. However, in John Guy’s biography of Mary, Queen of Scots portrays her as a woman of intellige...more
Nov 01, 2012 Marilyn rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mary Mae Callan-garcia
Queen of Scots, written by John Guy has become one of my personal favorite books. John Guy certainly did an incredible amount of research, in putting this book together. It was touching to read Mary's personal accounts, written to Elizabeth I.

Mary made poor choices in men, and she trusted her beloved cousin Elizabeth to a fault. She also trusted her noblemen more than she should have. It is a shame that she was betrayed by so many trusted people whom she held dear. I have to say that I changed...more
A sympathetic portrait…

Having thoroughly enjoyed Guy's recent biography of Thomas Becket, I had high expectations of this book, which Guy more than fulfilled. A meticulous historian who prides himself on stripping back the layers of accepted history by returning to and re-evaluating the original sources, Guy also has the skill of a true storyteller. For a non-historian like myself, it is this skill that makes his books so readable, that makes his characters emerge as rounded human beings with st...more
I have always been fascinated by the figure of Mary, Queen of Scots, so much so, that I wrote my undergraduate dissertation on her. At the time I was very much influenced by Jenny Wormald's A study in Failure which led me to be very critical of Mary and to view her as a bit of an idiot (obviously I wrote this conclusion up in more academic language). John Guy's Tudor England was my bible during my degree, so I was interested to read this biography of Mary.

Mary is a fascinating character for hist...more
Christa - Ron Paul 2016
This was an extremely interesting biography about Mary Stuart who, like the title says, was Queen of the Scots, and as far as I can tell the last monarch of that country before England and Scotland became one.
Her life was very interesting,exciting and a little tragic, and the writing of John Guy was far from boring. I thought everything was laid out in a very comprehensive style with all the connections between family's made very clear so I always knew who everyone was and how they related to ea...more
Bree Bielawski
The story of Mary Stuart is told in depth with lots of details, which is great if you are a history buff. I knew from the attention of detail told in the first chapter that this was not a book to be taken lightly. The author does give their opinion of what they believe Mary and other figures were like, but that happens with most biographies. The truth generally lies somewhere in the middle.
Wow! I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading biographies and/or history...or actually anyone. Although a biography and full of history, this book is a comfortable read. Guy seems to have done his research and presents a new look at Mary, Queen of Scots. I felt for Mary and the troubled times of her life. The only downside is the number of characters. Guy definitely tries to help the reader with maps, family trees, timelines, and other notes. He also does a good job of reminding...more
What else can I say about Mary? I'm glad that she has been remembered so favorably through history and she really was a tragic heroine as the author said at the end. Still considering that she was brought up royalty first in Scotland and then as Queen of France, I think she should have learned more and learned better. You can only make so many mistakes, as we all know, but she continued making so many tragic ones. I will grant that she didn't seem to have very many people she could trust around...more
I was awed by the research, energy, and enthusiasm that went into Guy's engaging portrait of courageous, canny, vulnerable, and sometimes wrong-headed Mary. A few passages did strike a wrong note. Given Guy's convincing account of Mary's courage and brains, perhaps I am wrong to think that the epilogue suggests that she just needed the right man to straighten her out. I was also a bit irritated by the several inventories of Mary's physical charms and by his more provocative than substantiated su...more
I got about 1/5th of the way through this and could not continue. In one paragraph, Mary was eleven. The next, she was five. The next, she was on her second marriage. It was exceptionally hard to follow. It's filled to the brim with wonderful bits of information, but it just was not mapped out well.
As my first foray into Mary Queen of Scots research, this biography was an excellent introduction. While clearly biased, Guy makes clear what is his opinion and his research is documented well. It's heavy on facts and especially details, but since that's what I was after I was pleased with the amount of detail he provided. I would have liked more in the way of the captive years, but I can see how that may have been repetitive and boring. Overall I enjoyed it and found his writing very easy to fo...more
This is one of the best books on Mary, Queen of Scots that I've read. Guy uses a huge number of primary sources and makes a good stab at an impartial view of Mary. She was obviously not suited to the position of Queen, though he makes a good case for this being partly a result of her upbringing and of other parties.

It's a sympathetic portrait of a woman who was popular and highly intelligent but flawed by lack of wisdom and knowledge of the Scottish people. Guy writes well and interestingly and...more
Jun 16, 2008 Katy rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History buffs
Shelves: non-fiction
Guys did an excellent job with this book. His research was extensive and at times his writting, though easy to follow, was really, really detailed. While that was irksome at times it made it possible for Guy to let Mary's life speak for itself. While he does take sides, he is very clear about what is fact and what is his own interpritation of events.

Like others have said, it's 500 pages of text and probably another 30-50 of notes and bibliography. I'm glad to have read it, but also glad that I...more
Sandy W
Richly detailed, this biography of Mary Queen of Scots read like a intriguing novel. Mary was a queen almost from birth, but never really had the political ambition like her cousin Elizabeth, to be a ruler. Mary's tragic life was marked with three marriages, none of which brought her the love she desired. Finally, accused of plotting to assinate Elizabeth, Mary was sentenced to execution.
Even though there are many names and dates, which can be tedious in historical non-fiction, it is a compelli...more
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John Guy studied medieval and Tudor history and is acknowledged as a leading authority on castles.
More about John Guy...
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