le 19 février 2012
Mary Queen of Scots was perhaps the unluckiest royal in history. Queen of France thanks to her marriage to Francis II, the physically weak boy-king she adored, she returned to her native Scotland on his death, presumably still a virgin as the boy had presumably been incapable -- according to the excellent IN MY END IS MY BEGINNING, A LIFE OF MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS by James Mackay -- of `penetration.' The English Elizabeth sent another boy, Darnley, this one tall for the equally very tall Mary, to ensnare the Scottish Queen. Melville described him as `more like a woman than a man,' for he was `lady-faced.' The boy reportedly was intimate with Mary's secretary, David Riccio, forming another of those crowded royal happenings. Riccio was assassinated while hiding behind the queen, the blade passing so close to her shoulder that she could feel the cold steel. Then her adviser, Bothwell, hatched a plot to blow up Darnley, but when the boy escaped, Bothwell strangled him. Bothwell then raped Mary so that `the Queen could not but marry him, seeing he had ravished her.' She wrote a Bishop, `Albeit we found his doings rude, yet were his words and answers gentle.' (Autres temps, autres moeurs.) Bothwell was married at the time, but his wife, presented with the God-fatherly `offer she couldn't refuse', in this case divorce or poison, consented to divorce. The marriage lasted just 4 weeks. Scottish nobles rose up against Bothwell who escaped to Denmark where he was imprisoned under the cruelest conditions imaginable, and where his mummified corpse can be seen to this day. Mary escaped to England ... but I've said enough. It's 5 star.
Antonia Fraser's MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS, although written over 30 years ago, is still an excellent read.