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)

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  10,894 Ratings  ·  290 Reviews
She was the quintessentially regal: statuesque, beautiful. Birth gave her claim to two nations' thrones. Her marriage to the young French dauphin promised a 3rd. Instead, Mary Stuart became victim of her impulsive heart, scandalizing her world with foolish passion leading to abduction, rape & murder. Betrayed by those she trusted, she'd be lured into a power struggle, ...more
Hardcover, 629 pages
Published 1970 by Delacorte Press (NY) (first published 1969)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
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
Oct 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 04, 2016 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
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.
Erik Graff
Feb 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.
Carolina Casas
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 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.
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
Dec 30, 2008 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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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

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 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
May 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very good
Elizabeth Blake
Jul 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Reading Faerie
3.5 round up.

Not bad; the end was rather gruesome.
Aug 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having binge-watched the TV series "Reign" which was VERY loosely based on a portion of the life of Mary Queen of Scots, I decided I needed to know more facts about her life. To my delight, I found this book for $2. "Reign" was a guilty pleasure, although I felt slightly ashamed to be watching it since my daughter informed me it won a lot of "Teen Choice" awards on TV. The actors were all stunningly beautiful people, and the costumes were magnificent, although very oddly modern and historically ...more
The 30 year old paperback copy I read had folios falling out as I went. Towards the end, I threw each page into the trash once completed.

3.5 stars. This was dry as dust and hard to get into for the first couple of chapters, but once it gets going, you can't set it down. It's hard to believe any of this actually happened, and yet here we are. Fraser sifted every particle of Mary's story. It's easy to see why no other book on Mary has come up to this standard.
Another delightful(ly sad) biography by Antonia Fraser! Yes, I did too five months to finish it but it was worth it as it cleared and expanded the little knowledge I had of Mary Queen of Scots. Antonia Fraser's biographies are worth reading almost for /just/ the ending chapter, honestly, way to make me tear every time.
Občas je to hrozne zdĺhavé a detailné (rozoberaný je totiž nielen život Márie, ale i celková politická situácia krajín v tom období, náboženská otázka a spory medzi rodmi + nespočet What if scenárov) až mi to lezie na nervy, kapitola sa môže venovať napríklad iba jednej nie až tak podstatnej hovadine a celkovo ku koncu už som z toho bola celá nešťastná (skôr preto, že Máriin život je tak napiču, že ťa to až bolí), ale - celkový dojem?
Neviem, či by som našla niečo lepšie - hej, francúzske
Mar 05, 2011 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
Feb 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
« 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 64 Jul 06, 2015 10:48AM  
500 Great Books B...: Mary, Queen of Scots - Antonia Fraser 1 5 Jul 25, 2014 08:24PM  
REIGN - Francis Vs Sebastian 1 17 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
“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.” 4 likes
“sunken to that of an old woman in the harsh disguise” 1 likes
More quotes…