I was pleasantly surprised when I saw how short this book was, that it managed to cram in so much detail. There are so many little details throughout the book that I didn’t expect. It’s a great introduction to the reign of Mary I, and especially her role in the Catholic Counter-Reformation in England in the 1550s. There is lots of detail about the Protestant martyrs of her reign who I didn’t really know much about to be honest, but I do now!
I especially enjoyed the introductory section about Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, and the section about Thomas Cranmer’s recantation and execution. John Foxe’s book lists many of the people who were killed under Mary I as Protestant martyrs, and their beliefs and executions are covered in a surprising amount of detail. I haven’t yet got around to reading Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, just dipping in and out for assignments and blog posts, but this makes me want to spend more time with it.
What kind of tone does the novel’s opening scene instantly set, and what does it tell us up front about Hannah’s and Elizabeth’s characters? If you’ve read other fictional accounts of Elizabeth’s life, how does this portrayal of her compare?
I think the opening of the novel shows both Hannah and Elizabeth as very strong characters, but both have their secrets. It’s an interesting opening to contrast a very real person in Elizabeth I, whose life is so well-known, and an entirely fictional one, Hannah. Somehow their lives seem to seamlessly intertwine which is quite clever. I’ve read many other fictional accounts of Elizabeth’s life, but as she doesn’t play a very important role in the developing story in The Queen’s Fool, it’s difficult to compare, because in most stories she appears in she is the main character.
In public, Hannah plays the fool to Mary’s queen, but in private their bond is more intimate. Why is the relationship valuable to each of them, both personally and politically? How is Hannah’s connection to Elizabeth different?
I think Mary feels connected to those on the outside, as she once was. Hannah is different to those who pander to Mary and want her to give them something. Mary knows that Hannah is different and that she can relax her guard with her. I think it gives Mary a respite from the public persona that she projects. Elizabeth and Hannah’s relationship is more challenging because Elizabeth is more perceptive than Mary, and I think it challenges Hannah intellectually more than her relationship with Mary, but I think she benefits equally from both relationships in different ways. Continue reading “Discussion Questions – ‘The Queen’s Fool’ by Philippa Gregory”
Titles: Princess of Wales / Lady Mary / Queen of England, Ireland and France / Queen of Spain
Dates: 18 February 1516 – 17 November 1558
Spouse: Philip II of Spain 1527-1598
Parents: Henry VIII 1491-1547 & Katherine of Aragon 1485-1536
Siblings: Elizabeth I 1533-1603 & Edward VI 1537-1553 (half-siblings)
Noble Connections: Mary was the grand-daughter of Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain. She was also the cousin of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Her governess was the Countess of Salisbury, and her godparents included the Duchess of Norfolk and the Countess of Devon.
1542 – James V dies and is succeeded by his daughter, Mary Queen of Scots.
James V dies and his successor is his first daughter, Mary, who becomes Mary Queen of Scots. The Stuarts were known for being Catholics, and that is partially why Henry VIII didn’t wish for the succession to pass to the children of his sister Margaret (the mother of James V). Mary was only a year old when she succeeded to the throne and at one point there were plans to marry her to the future Edward VI of England.
1543 – Knox converts to Protestantism.
1545 – Knox becomes an associate and bodyguard to George Wishart.
So I’ve put together a list of all of the Tudor and Wars of the Roses related books I want. The ones scored through are the ones I’ve already got or read. Any opinions on any of them, or are any of them better than others? Any opinions would be greatly appreciated as I don’t think it’s sensible to splurge and buy them all at once!
Ackroyd, Peter, ‘Foundation’ (2011)
Ackroyd, Peter, ‘London: the Biography’ (2001)
Ackroyd, Peter, ‘Tudors’ (2012)
Baldwin Smith, Lacey, ‘Anne Boleyn’ (2013)
Baldwin Smith, Lacey, ‘Catherine Howard’ (2010)
Baldwin Smith, Lacey, ‘Henry VIII’ (2012)
Baldwin Smith, Lacey, ‘Treason in Tudor England: Politics and Paranoia’ (2006)
Bernard, George W., ‘Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions’ (2010)