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Mary Queen of Scots (Medieval Women Boxset)

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  8,333 ratings  ·  219 reviews
More than 400 years after her death, Mary Queen of Scots remains one of the most romantic & controversial figures in British history. Fraser's classic biography of her won the James Tait Prize when it was 1st published in '69, became an international bestseller & was translated into 9 languages.
Mary passed her childhood in France & married the Dauphin to becom
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Hardcover, 629 pages
Published 1970 by Delacorte Press (NY) (first published 1969)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Madeline
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
Jennifer
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
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Bap
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
Mel
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
Erik Graff
Dec 06, 2012 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
Caitlin
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.
Kelly
Mar 06, 2009 Kelly marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
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.
David
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 Liebel
Jul 08, 2011 Charlotte Liebel rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
Elissa R.
Antonia Fraser’s book on Mary Queen of Scots is a love letter to a woman who fought her whole life to rule as the rightful queen of Scotland, according to her birthright, in a world that wanted only to use her as a pawn. I found the book difficult to get through because I don’t read a lot of non-fiction, but it was very rewarding. Mary had a fascinating, dramatic, and tragic life. Fraser’s bias towards her is clear, but since it matches my own, I was more than ready to accept the author’s explan ...more
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.
Brett
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
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Silver
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
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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
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Slayermel
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
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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
Tim
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
Jul 12, 2012 Bev marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition

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
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Lexi Wolfe
Thank goodness I read this book. Had I not, I might have slipped back into my old habit of thinking that the Tudors - with the POSSIBLE exception of Henry VII, weren't all gits. Alas, it is Elizabeth who is cast in a harsher light than we are used to seeing her and Mary herself is shown to be pious, tolerant, maternal and so severely wronged, there is no surprise when she is relieved from this life smiling. The English view of her, generally, is horrendously that of a villainess who was promiscu ...more
Ker
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
William Clifford
Enjoyable in spite of the outcome.
Patricia
This is a re-read and I loved it as much the second time as I did the first. This time I picked it up to check something and found myself absorbed again so I settled in to allow myself to be reminded of this amazing life. Fraser treats her sympathetically but how else can Mary Stuart be treated? She is the perfect romantic heroine. After an indulged and protected royal childhood and early marriage in France her life suddenly spiralled out of control. When she left France and her Guise family she ...more
Jerry Delaney
I bought this book as a souvenir when we were traveling through Scotland. Touring castles and walking down streets in Edinburgh are enhanced by reading about the events that took place in them so long ago, and the people who also walked there.

Mary is a controversial figure in history because, while we have letters and eyewitness accounts of events in her life, some believe documents were doctored and narratives skewed for political reason. Was she in on the plot to kill her second husband? Was
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Rbell
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
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Susu
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 Stuarts life. In her view the woman cant 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. ...more
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.
Barbara
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.
Elysium
This was the first book about Mary Queen of Scots that wasn't boring. I still think Mary was an idiot but the book was good.
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Tudor History Lovers: June 2015 - Mary, Queen of Scots, by Antonia Fraser 11 58 Jul 06, 2015 10:48AM  
REIGN - Francis Vs Sebastian 1 13 Nov 22, 2013 02:13PM  
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Antonia Fraser is the author of many widely acclaimed historical works, including the biographies Mary, Queen of Scots (a 40th anniversary edition was published in May 2009), Cromwell: Our Chief of Men, King Charles II and The Gunpowder Plot (CWA Non-Fiction Gold Dagger; St Louis Literary Award). She has written five highly praised books which focus on women in history, The Weaker Vessel: Women's ...more
More about Antonia Fraser...

Other Books in the Series

Medieval Women Boxset (6 books)
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  • Medieval Women: A Social History of Women in England 450-1500
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  • Elizabeth I
  • 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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