Thank you to Pen and Sword for gifting me a copy of this book for review.
I’m not very knowledgeable about Mary Queen of Scots’ early life in France and Scotland. I know more about the period after she fled to England in 1568. I hoped that this would fill in some of the gaps in my knowledge.
William Maitland isn’t a person I had ever heard of before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect though “Politician, Reformer, and Conspirator” gave me some suggestions. He was involved in the early plotting of Mary Queen of Scots during the Darnley period after her return from France to rule Scotland. He is certainly an interesting figure, though Mary Queen of Scots is far more so. I know that we can learn a lot from the figures on the edges of a famous person’s life, but Maitland didn’t seem to really interest me.
I found the book quite complex and difficult to read in places. This was perhaps because I didn’t know much about the period, or that I didn’t find Maitland a very interesting person. I felt that the dates were given so you could tell how much research had gone into it, but I had to keep flicking backwards to check which year we were in. This is one of my pet peeves in history books – assuming that 4 or 5 pages later you can still remember which year you’re in! This is particularly annoying if you’re using the index to look for references to a particular person or event.
The book is divided down into easily digestible chunks in chronological order, so if you are looking for a particular event it is fairly easy to find it. Maitland comes across as a shadowy figure, never really at the heart of things but with plenty of opinions and involvement on the periphery of events surrounding Mary Queen of Scots. Some of the reference notations were a little sparse for my liking, constantly having to cross-check with the full bibliography and list of abbreviations to find sources which was annoying.
I think this is a book I’ll have to come back to once I’ve read some more of the background to Scotland in this period as I did feel a little out of my depth, but I’ll hope to understand and discover more when I reread it!
- Maitland established his standing under Marie of Guise
- The Lords of the Congregation challenge French authority
- The return of the widowed Mary Queen of Scots
- Diplomatic efforts to establish Mary as Elizabeth’s heir
- Lord James (soon to be Earl of Moray) and Maitland establish authority
- The negotiations for Mary’s remarriage
- Mary’s efforts to take up the reins of government
- Marriage to Darnley
- Moray’s rebellion
- Riccio’s murder
- Restored as Secretary of State
- Ending Mary’s marriage to Darnley
- The Chameleon
- The plot for Darnley’s murder unfolds
- Providing evidence of a crime of passion
- Enticement for Mary to marry Bothwell
- Bothwell’s exonerations and marriage to Mary
- The Confederates challenge Mary and Bothwell
- Negotiations while Mary is held at Lochleven
- Mary’s escape and Maitland’s signs of sympathy
- The Conferences at York and Westminster
- A last hurrah for Mary’s cause