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The Royal Stuarts: A History of the Family That Shaped Britain
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The Royal Stuarts: A History of the Family That Shaped Britain

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  417 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
"Compelling...A masterly feat...A magnificent, sweeping, authoritative, warm yet wry history."

--The Wall Street Journal

In this fascinating and intimate portrait of the Stuarts, author Allan Massie takes us deep into one of history's bloodiest and most tumultuous reigns. Exploring the family's lineage from the first Stuart king to the last, The Royal Stuarts is a panoramic
Hardcover, 370 pages
Published December 20th 2011 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published January 1st 2010)
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Rebecca Huston
There are times when a book truly sucks, and this was one of them. Massie uses mostly fictional sources, and over-glamourizes his subjects, focusing more on racy stories than anything factual. Pity, as this one could have been so much more. I can't honestly recommend this one, as I found myself getting more annoyed the more that I read. There are far better books about the Stuarts out there. Given that the author is a newspaper tabloid journalist, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Not recommende ...more
May 26, 2012 rated it liked it
This is a hard book for me to rate. It was very informative( I would rate a 5 star for this), not text book but finely tuned history-not a "story". I found it somewhat hard to read in terms of following the family lines-even though I'm familiar with the history(I would rate a 3 or 4 star for this). Took me much longer to read than usual because I followed up with all the footnotes cited in the back of the book. Massie is a good and thorough writer. I do recommend reading the "Envoi" chapter (the ...more
Paul Pessolano
Apr 01, 2013 rated it liked it
“The Royal Stuarts” by Allan Massie, published by Thomas Dunne Books.

Category – English History

This book could very easily been subtitled: “Off with their Heads”, Every King should have several Mistresses”, or “Let’s have another War”.

Allan Massie does a masterful job of telling how the Stuarts shaped the history of Great Britain. The reader must be informed though that this is a history book and is really geared to those that have an interest in the history of Great Britain but also the lineage
Sarah -
Mar 05, 2013 rated it liked it
My book blog --->

I keep trying to get beyond James VI/I, but I fear I never will. I picked this one up because I thought maybe if I read about the Stuart family, instead of just Great Britain AFTER James, it might make a difference. Sadly, it does not. James is really the last one who is interesting to me, I think because I kind of feel bad for him because he gets such crap for being 'undignified' for a king - I guess he was allowed to be a tipsy whene
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
"The Royal Stuarts" is a well written (explicitly non-academic) survey of the family which produced a dynasty of kings, and whose blood runs in the veins of the present ruler of Great Britain. (Indeed, when and if the Duke of Cambridge become king, it will course even more vigorously--his mother, Diana, Princess of wales, was a direct descendant of Charles II, unlike his father Prince Charles, who gets his drop of Stuart blood via a daughter of James I.)

The Stewarts or Stuarts (Mary Queen of Sco
Dec 22, 2013 rated it liked it
The Stuarts. Stubborn to the point of losing realms and heads (literally), they made quite the impact on the Scottish and English thrones. Allan Massie always has fun with his subjects and he clearly enjoys writing about this house of royals who originated in Brittany and eventually ruled a united Britain.

Family feeling may easily be extinguished when power is the prize.

This is a chronological examination of each reigning Stuart personality from Robert II of Scotland to the Young Pretender. The
Melisende d'Outremer
I found the info on the James' lacking in substance as well - which is pretty much what I was looking for - not particularly interested in the Stuarts after Charles - and Mary, quite frankly, is a pain in the arse. Glad to see I was not the only one who couldn't rate it over two stars.
Lois Clark-Johnston
I enjoyed this. It's easy light reading and fairly interesting. Extremely readable.
I don't know much about this period in history yet so I can't say if this was accurate or off. However, the author references Sir Walter Scott often and so I'm guessing not that accurate.
None the less an entertaining and light look at the Stuart Monarchs.
This was a very enjoyable read. I particularly appreciated how it lead the reader down the Stuart family tree. I love reading historical biographies and I've read a number about Mary, Queen of Scots, and Charles II and his father, as well as Mary and Anne, the daughters of James II, however, I really knew practically nothing about the early Stuarts nor what happened to the family after James II was kicked out of Britain. It just made all so much more sense to me, than reading individual biograph ...more
Jason Cecil
Oct 30, 2012 rated it really liked it

Pretty good read that takes you through the royal Stuart/Stewart line without getting too bogged down. Fun for a royal history buff
Feb 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
A fascinating look at where the Stuarts came from, how they came to power, and how that power was eventually lost due to the politics of a state faith.
Jul 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Great presentation of a dynasty.
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
A great explanation of the Stuart history and explanation of the reason and the failings of the Jacobite uprisings.
Steve Stuart
I'm not a Scottish or royal history buff, by any means; I read this book because I share the same last name as the line of monarchs. That (lack of) background probably affected my enjoyment of the book a bit, as I wasn't familiar with all of the details of Scottish and English history and geography that were assumed. As a result, I read this book with Wikipedia at my elbow as a study guide. Unfortunately, I soon began to realize that the Wikipedia articles were usually about as engaging as and f ...more
Through this well-written historical account, Masse makes the volatile and intriguing politics of Western Europe, particularly Scotland and England, almost understandable – no small task. Though the genealogy gets a bit confusing at times due to the repetitious use of given names among historical personages, the author provides family trees at the beginning of the book to which the reader can flip back for reference. The book covers the Stuarts from their beginnings in Scotland to their inherita ...more
Jul 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, history
Eh. Maybe 2.5 stars.

I was excited to pick up this book, to read more about monarchs I had only read about tangentially. The format of one monarch per chapter appealed as I felt it would give the author a better chance to focus. I was left without as much information as I wanted. The personal lives of the monarchs were often just skipped over, which made keeping a lot of the people involved straight a difficult task (especially since so many shared names/titles). Massie is also a Mary apologist w
Mar 16, 2012 rated it liked it
I picked this up because having read enough historical fiction, generally set in England and Scotland (especially Diana Gabaldon's wonderful series), I thought I would try to get more background on what led to the Jacobite rebellion. Plus, I was curious about Mary, Queen of Scots. She gets such mixed press, I wanted to see what a more historical fiction author would say.

I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the wealth of additional historical material the author incorporated, and I def
Jul 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, biography
An excellent overview of three hundred tumultuous and pivotal years in the history of Scotland and England. Keeping the focus on this extraordinary family and their dramatic, at times tragic, lives, the narrative still gives a good understanding of the politics and nature of the times. The book is well written and thorough, even given its brevity and wide scope.
From the rise of the Stuarts in Scotland, to Mary Queen of Scots, to the joining of the crowns, to the Civil War, to the Glorious Revolu
Nov 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio, historical
So far the only historical factual book I have listened to. I read this to give me a background sketch while reading the OUTLANDER series. Most definitely interesting however I think that this type of book should be READ as opposed to being listened to as I was always wanting to stop it and consult a family tree and notes, supplied, I am sure, in the written edition.
Would definitely read another of this author - but read and not listen to unless I knew more of the subject than I do about the JAM
Maddy Barone
Jul 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
A history of the Stuart family from the early Middle Ages through Bonnie Prince Charlie's little brother's death in the 18th century. Unlike some heavy, boring "scholarly" tomes, this one is easy to read and understand. For someone who wants an overview of the history, this is perfect. An in-depth study would require several volumes. Here, history is presented in ways even the non-scholar can understand and relate to.
Karen Floyd
Feb 10, 2013 rated it liked it
A decent overview the the Stewart dynasty from its earliest beginnings in Scotland to the death of Bonnie Prince Charlie and his brother. I didn't always agree with his readings of character (he has a romantic view of Mary Queen of Scots)and I'm a bit dubious about his citing Macaulay, Scott and Stevenson as sources, but on the other hand he doesn't claim to be writing a scholarly work. And he did pique my interest in reading more Scott.
Sandra Strange
If you have Scottish ancestors, you really ought to read this well written account of the royal family of Scotland that ended up ruling England, then lost the throne because of their religious belief, mostly. From Mary Queen of Scots to Bonny Prince Charlie, the Stuarts were fascinatingly arrogant, intelligent, good looking and somewhat self destructive. Their history reveals interesting details of this crucial time in English history.
Aug 03, 2013 rated it liked it
The names and titles were difficult to remember. The genealogy chart included with the book was not sufficient enough to thwart confusion. Portraits of the historical figures depicted would have been exceptionally helpful in separating one James from the dozen or so other Jameses. Otherwise, a thorough historical account, albeit rather dry at times; nevertheless, worth the read for anyone excessively interested in English and Scottish history.
Nov 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I wasn't sure if this would be as dry as The Tudors, and was pleasantly surprised. The Stuarts were definitely an interesting dynasty! The book is filled with anecdotes that really bring them to life. (I listened to the unabridged audiobook which perhaps made some of the stories, such as Charles Stuart on the run, even more vivid and entertaining.)
Jul 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, research, library
Not a bad overview of the Stuart dynasty. Of course, the problem with overviews is that there's always a lot of information that I've seen before, and the interesting parts tend to be too truncated to fit within the scope of the work at hand. Still, it's a good jumping-off place. And now I have a list of individuals whose biographies I want to look for.
Mar 08, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: european-history
Pretty much what the title of the book promotes. Unfortunately, it's one of those history books that seems to assume its readers come prepared with a decent background in the subject being profiled which in this case was not accurate for my British historical knowledge. And I was hoping for more interesting stories than what Massie offered. Had its moments, but too few and too far between.
Jul 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book of royal biographies. It took you through a consise biography of each of the Stuart rulers, and told you both the good and the bad of each one without sugar coating it. If you like biograhpies of the older royal families, or enjoy British history I highly recommend this one.
Daniel Kukwa
Aug 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A competent, easy to read, and well-organized history of the Stuart royal line of Scotland and England. It's not the most electrifying work of history, but it does a fine job recounting the lives of the earliest Stuart kings...the ones least known to common knowledge, and deserving of as much fame (or infamy) as their post-Elizabethan descendents.
Lauren Albert
The book is a bit sketchy on each of the biographies which is not surprising since 384 pages is not a lot of pages to cover so many monarchs. It would have also been helpful if the page headings had specified which "James" (for instance) the chapter was about so that it wouldn't be so easy to get lost among the same-name monarchs.
Sep 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Well-written, enjoyable book about this most talented, yet obstinate and foolish royal family. particularly useful for the history of Scotland before the Union of the Crowns in 1603. A few incorrect details--but that is nothing unusual these days with publishers not bothering to edit and proofread very much. An easy and educational read.
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Allan Massie (born 1938) is a well-known Scottish journalist, sports writer and novelist. Massie is one of Scotland's most prolific and well-known journalists, writing regular columns for The Scotsman, The Sunday Times (Scotland) and the Scottish Daily Mail. He is also the author of nearly 30 books, including 20 novels. He is notable for writing about the distant past.
More about Allan Massie...
“Macbeth was played before the first Stuart king of Great Britain and Ireland, James VI of Scots and I of England, and this scene served as a compliment to him.” 0 likes
“The word ‘steward’ derives from the Anglo-Saxon ‘stig’, meaning a hall, and ‘weard’, which is ward, guardian or keeper.” 0 likes
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