Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Mary Queen of Scots” as Want to Read:
Mary Queen of Scots
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Mary Queen of Scots (Medieval Women Boxset)

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  9,636 Ratings  ·  260 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
Paperback, 568 pages
Published September 1st 1993 by Delta (first published 1969)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jan 09, 2014 Madeline rated it liked it
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)
Oct 22, 2011 Helen (Helena/Nell) rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 31, 2009 Jennifer rated it really liked it
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
Apr 30, 2008 Bap rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
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
Jul 25, 2011 Mel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, scottish
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
Jul 07, 2016 Kirsty rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: july-2016
I am very much interested in Mary's story, but haven't studied any history of the period since I was at secondary school. I chose to read Fraser's account of hers because she is so well revered; I thought that if anyone could present her tale in a fascinating and memorable way, it would be her. Alas, I have a few issues with the book. Mary Queen of Scots held my attention for the first 150 pages or so, but I felt as though it shifted after that point, losing some of its initial sparkle. Fraser's ...more
Erik Graff
Dec 06, 2012 Erik Graff rated it really liked it  ·  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
A sad biography of the Queen of Scots. I have given this book three stars though my enjoyment was edging towards two stars. This is my second book of Antonia Fraser and I much prefer The Wives of Henry VIII. My interest lagged even though I love Fraser's writing style, I never felt pulled into this sad account of the misunderstood queen of Scots. I plan on reading her other books and I hope that I can enjoy them much more than I had of this one.
Athena Ninlil
One of the best biographies on Mary, Queen of Scots. It is well researched and detailed; you don't have to be a history buff to enjoy this book. Fraser's writing style is very good, she keeps you hooked from the start. I do have some minor criticisms, one of them is how she presents Mary at tragic moments in her life. I felt like she was romanticizing her there. Other than this however, the book was great. I highly recommend it.
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.
Feb 18, 2015 Caitlin rated it really liked it
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.
Maia B.
Oct 17, 2011 Maia B. rated it liked it
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
Aug 05, 2010 Slayermel rated it liked it  ·  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
Oct 29, 2013 David rated it it was amazing
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
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
Mar 06, 2014 Bettie☯ rated it liked it

Now for the film:

Vanessa Redgrave ... Mary Queen of Scots
Glenda Jackson ... Queen Elizabeth
Patrick McGoohan ... James Stuart
Timothy Dalton ... Henry - Lord Darnley
Nigel Davenport ... Lord Bothwell
Trevor Howard ... William Cecil
Daniel Massey ... Robert Dudley
Ian Holm ... David Riccio

Charlotte Liebel
Jul 08, 2011 Charlotte Liebel rated it it was amazing
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
Elizabeth Blake
Jul 22, 2009 Elizabeth Blake rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 12, 2012 Bev 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
Jill Bramhall
Sep 20, 2016 Jill Bramhall rated it it was amazing
This was such a moving book, so sad & so tragic.
Apr 30, 2012 Brett rated it really liked it
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
Sep 05, 2011 Silver rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Bonnie Staughton
Sep 28, 2015 Bonnie Staughton rated it liked it
I picked this book up at a book sale and tried reading it 2x previously before abandoning it. This last time I started it I told myself I would finish it. The reason I wasn't able to get through it the 1st two times is that it is not an easy read. Besides the story of Mary Queen of Scots there is a lot about the political atmosphere at the time and the conflict between the Catholics and Protestants in Scotland. Lots of characters coming and going and lots of different castles in both Scotland an ...more
Jul 05, 2013 Tim rated it really liked it
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
Apr 14, 2016 Jessika rated it really liked it
I'm not a big non-fiction reader. I do enjoy it, but 9 out of 10 books I read are fiction. So when I started this mammoth biography--I was INTIMIDATED. I always like expanding my knowledge about certain topics though, so I wanted to try to make it through this book as far as I could. I'll be honest--I did not think I'd finish this when I first picked it up. I'm still haunted by memories of falling asleep over my AP European History textbook in high school. So I made myself a goal--just one chapt ...more
Aug 30, 2014 Rbell rated it it was ok
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
Feb 21, 2016 Para rated it really liked it
After two attempts at trying to read this book, I finally finished it on my third attempt. I'd recommend anyone attempting to read this book (without any prior knowledge on Scots history) to have a go at Queen Elizabeth's biography (I read Alison Weir's).

First, the bad. There are so many characters introduced at various points in the book that you're left wondering - "when did this character appear?" Having read books on Russian, French and English history, this is the one book where I've been
Jul 07, 2013 Carol rated it really liked it
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
Ruth Ann
Jun 30, 2009 Ruth Ann rated it really liked it
Shelves: european-history
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
Lexi Wolfe
Nov 06, 2014 Lexi Wolfe rated it it was amazing
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Tudor History Lovers: June 2015 - Mary, Queen of Scots, by Antonia Fraser 11 63 Jul 06, 2015 10:48AM  
500 Great Books B...: Mary, Queen of Scots - Antonia Fraser 1 4 Jul 25, 2014 08:24PM  
REIGN - Francis Vs Sebastian 1 15 Nov 22, 2013 02:13PM  
  • Mary Queen of Scots and The Murder of Lord Darnley
  • Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart
  • Nell Gwyn: Mistress to a King
  • Arbella: England's Lost Queen
  • Great Harry
  • Elizabeth I
  • Anne Boleyn: In Her Own Words & the Words of Those Who Knew Her
  • Elizabeth the Great
  • Edward VI: The Lost King of England
  • The Sisters of Henry VIII: The Tumultuous Lives of Margaret of Scotland and Mary of France
  • Bess of Hardwick: First Lady of Chatsworth, 1527-1608
  • After Elizabeth: The Rise of James of Scotland and the Struggle for the Throne of England
  • The Uncrowned Kings of England: The Black History of the Dudleys and the Tudor Throne
  • Catherine of Aragon
  • Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne
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)
  • The Warrior Queens
  • Medieval Women: A Social History of Women in England 450-1500
  • Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Biography
  • Elizabeth I
  • The Weaker Vessel

Share This Book

“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
“sunken to that of an old woman in the harsh disguise” 0 likes
More quotes…