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Crown of Thistles: The Fatal Inheritance of Mary Queen of Scots

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  243 ratings  ·  39 reviews
The struggle between the fecund Stewarts and the barren Tudors is generally seen only in terms of the relationship between Elizabeth I and her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots. But very little has been said about the background to their intense rivalry.

Here, Linda Porter examines the ancient and intractable power struggle between England and Scotland, a struggle intensified
Paperback, 523 pages
Published August 15th 2013 by Macmillan
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Oct 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
I've always been fascinated by British royalty, especially the Queens. So much intensity and drama. This was a great book. At times a little too narrative and expository, but that's called for in this type of re-telling. Little details stand out. A trove of info for those with keen interest.

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Crown of Thistles: The Fatal Inheritance of Mary Queen of Scots may be more of a comparative-historical study of Scotland's and England's monarchs laid out side-by-side, than a fully mapped out biography of Mary Stewart, opening with sensational conquests and the supplanting of two kings: on one hand, by the victorious creator of the Tudor dynasty, Henry VII and the other, a 15 year-old boy who became James IV after revolting against his father.

Unlike many popular historians who have portrayed
Leanda Lisle
Jan 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
The heir to two kingdoms, Mary, Queen of Scots was to be a victim of terrible violence in both. Brutally deposed from her throne in Scotland, Mary fled to England only to be imprisoned and eventually beheaded by her cousin, Elizabeth I. Yet as Linda Porter describes, this was only the last chapter in the long, bloody family rivalry that was Mary’s fatal inheritance.

The first of the three generations whose story Porter tells is that of Mary’s Stuart grandfather, James IV of Scots, and his bride,
Dec 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book gives an overview of the coming of Mary Queen of Scots, her troubled reign and its immediate aftermath. Aside from a long introduction about the rise of Henry VII, Tudor history is minimized. I was glad for the focus on Scotland there is not a lot available in other sources for the general reader. The subtitle is a better description of the content than the title.

The Scottish story begins with the rebellion against James III. His teen aged son, who may have been prodded by his mother,
Although related by blood and residing in bordering countries; the Tudors and Stuarts (Stewarts) were far from chummy. This dramatic relationship best-suited for a soap opera is retold by Linda Porter in, “Tudors Versus Stewarts: The Fatal Inheritance of Mary, Queen of Scots”.

Having previously read two books by Porter; there are certain characteristics of the author’s writing which I was on the lookout for. As per usual, “Tudors Versus Stewarts” has a slow start which feels too much like
Jerry Ozaniec
Aug 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Excellent exposition of a subject others have written much about but never (to my knowledge) in parallel such as this treatment of both the Tudors & Stewarts. My only criticism would be that there was too little examination as to why there was such vehement opposition to Mary's marriage to Darnley.
Ros Ds
Aug 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
A well written book, but it does not focus at all on Mary Stuart. It is more about her ancestors and in some part might be a bit boring.
Aug 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A political thriller that made me forget I was on the stationary bike. Which is high praise. Having just visited Scotland this summer and seen many of the places mentioned in this biography, it was particularly compelling.
Jan 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
more about Mary's ancestors and the generations that led to her reign than about Mary herself, a very good history of the Stewart and Tudor dynasties and their relationships.
C.S. Burrough
Jan 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If, like myself, you feel to have exhausted all biographical coverage of those two British queens in one isle, Mary of Scots and Elizabeth I, Crown of Thistles is the ultimate addendum. Exploring the background to, rather than the substance of, this fatal sisterly relationship, Linda Porter brings a freshly insightful perspective to a much told tale, forever mesmerising in its many complexities and uncertainties.

There is no cut and dried version of much of this legend whose allure lies in its
Donald Rice
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This history states many things I have never heard about the subjects in the title. The revelations are most interesting !

Many of the quotes are in old English and the sentence structure is quite odd to read in the 21st century. Yet, this adds quite a lot to the story.

I loved the story of Margaret Tudor.

The genealogical charts need to be more complete as to dates and names.

Queen Mary of the Scots, and her story is lacking a lot. Much has been dumped into the epilogue.

In the text, little is
Helen Carolan
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have to admit this was a totally fascinating read, especially the first three parts. While Mary queen of Scots is dealt with it's the history of both her grandfather James the fourth and her father James 5th which are really compelling. Both are now little more than a foot-note in history, James 4th being remembered as the man who took a pasting at Flodden and James 5th famous for allegedly saying the dynasty began with a woman and would end with a woman. But as Ms Porter shows there was much ...more
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book filled a void in my readings of British history. The examination of both the Tudors and the Stewarts co-existing certainly clarified what was happening in both in England and Scotland in the 1500s. The author was sympathetic to Mary's plight and I wish she could have been a little more sympathetic to Richard III. Maps would have been helpful and I did appreciate the short biographies at the end of the book. All the Scottish Earls can become quite confusing. I highly recommend this book ...more
Kay Wahrsager
Very generic and relies heavily on other sources
Carolina Casas
A great book that shatters all the myths regarding this period. There were many things I didn't know about the Stewarts like James IV being a skilled sewer, building a great navy and possessing some of the best canyons in Europe and investing on making his country the center of European politics. His son and heir, James V while not being a skilled musician and singer like his father and uncle, or erudite like the latter, nevertheless made sure his court became the center of knowledge and ...more
Toni Moore
"Tudors Versus Stewarts" is very organized and well-written and covers the years 1485 to 1568 in England, Scotland, and France. Most of the focus is on Scotland, whose history is not as well-known as that of England during the same time period. It's the story of the rivalry between the Tudors of England -- starting with Henry VII, who vanquished Richard III, the last Plantagenet -- and the Stewarts of Scotland. James I was the first Stewart to rule Scotland; his reign began in 1406.

Author Linda
G. Lawrence
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An excellent, extremely detailed look at the history of the Stewart and Tudor dynasties side by side. Fascinating and novel approach to telling the stories of the history of these neighbouring countries, made me realise the gaps in my knowledge on Scotland.
Carolina Casas
Best book I've read in this year and I'd like to keep free of criticism because I've noticed there are a lot of trolls when it comes to Renaissance books. There was a lot I didn't know about the Stewarts, enough about the Tudors but not the Stewarts that I found refreshing. A must read, full of details and goes deep into the politics of every Tudor monarch, Stewart and respective officials in their governments. As well as dispelling the myth of Scotland as inferior to England in all aspects, it ...more
Dec 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Excellent. I am a bit of a student of both Tudor and Stewart history and I learned a great deal from this book that I had not picked up in many other books along similar lines. This book starts from the very beginning of both the Stewart and Tudor dynasties and makes it's way all the way to the end of the line when Tudor and Stewart finally merged to rule over both England and Scotland. Despite the cover and the title, Mary, Queen of Scots is not necessarily the center of the book but more the ...more
Ant Koplowitz
Jan 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
Crown of Thistles: The Fatal Inheritance of Mary Queen of Scots is an enjoyable and thought provoking read. But if you're expecting another standard biography of Mary (as another Good Reads reviewer seems to have done, and then only awarded it two stars, presumably because she hadn't realised the book's focus), then think again. Linda Porter reappraises the complex, multifactorial relationships between the Tudors and Stewarts (as well as others), with the bulk of the action taking place before ...more
Sarah -  All The Book Blog Names Are Taken
I'm not sure what there is to say besides, "Mary never stood a chance."

In all seriousness though, this was a wonderfully written, well-researched book about the entwining legacies of the Stewarts and Tudors. I've read quite a bit about Mary, Queen of Scots, but have always wondered about much of Scotland's monarchy before her - especially how Margaret and Henry could co-exist after her husband was killed in battle. Many gaps in my knowledge were filled in during the course of this reading, as
Roman Clodia
May 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
The personal and political inheritances of Mary Queen of Scots

The negative reviews on Amazon seem to be because this isn't just a history of Mary Queen of Scots: they're right, it's not, in that Mary is only born about halfway through this book. What it is, though, is an excellent history of Mary's inheritances, both personal and political, which shaped both her reign and her life.

Porter goes back to Katherine de Valois who, after the death of her first husband, Henry V, married Owen Tudor, a
Catherine McClelland
Jun 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
It is an overview from James III of Scotland and Henry VII of England through Mary, Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I of England. It stopped at Mary I's imprisonment in England. I found it interesting the usurping by James IV of Scotland. I didn't know about that. Also the book deals with the ongoing claim by the Scottish Monarch that they were the the next in line to the British throne. This is a lineage through Henry VIII's sister Margaret who married the King of the Scots. I still find myself ...more
Jul 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
the perfect book for any one who loves tudors! its a lovely compare and contrast piece that digs into Mary queen of Scots Tudor and stewart lineage starting from the war of the roses and ending with her demise....I love the writing and historical facts and how the author poses the question of who is the stronger leader the fertile Stewarts or the barren tudors and the conflict between the 2.
Sara G
Aug 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Enjoyable read about the background of the connections between the Stewarts and Tudors, starting with Henry VII. I like that Mary's life was given context, making her a more sympathetic queen than we typically think of her. This book felt soooo long, but the information was presented nicely and in an easily readable format.
Interesting overview of the interconnectedness between the English royal house of Tudor and the Scottish Stewarts, who eventually ruled both countries. Clearly written for general readers rather than academics. Nonetheless, it held my interest - and even better, it's got my husband interested as well.
Cheryl Powell
Aug 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Very interesting. Puts the story of Mary Queen of Scots into the context of the history of the Tudors and Stewarts. I gave it four stars instead of five because the ending was a bit abrupt - but I guess Porter felt that the story of Mary and Elizabeth had been rehashed ad infinitum. Highly recommended to aficionados of Tudor of Stewart history.
Aug 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am pretty familiar with Tudor history, since I've read other biographies, but it was fascinating to read about Scottish contemporaries. Mary Queen of Scots gets a bad rap, but we have the benefit of hindsight. At the time, it's clear why she made the decisions she did. Even though seeking Elizabeth I's sanctuary was a misstep the author describes Mary's decision making process.
Oct 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a really good book in explaining the Scottish side of the whole thing. Most of the books of those times that I've read have been English-centred and in the course of that you get a fragmented and English-sided view of matters. I loved to get to know more about the other side of the coin.
Valerie Christie
Jan 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'd read quite a few biographies of Mary Queen of Scots before, but this one was different because it focused a lot on the background of the Stewarts and the Tudors, and a bit less on Mary's life. It brought a different perspective to Mary's story.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Linda Porter was born in Exeter, Devon in 1947. Her family have long-standing connections to the West Country, but moved to the London area when she was a small child. She was educated at Walthamstow Hall School in Sevenoaks and at the University of York, from which she has