“At the end of the Tudor era, two queens ruled one island. But sixteenth-century Europe was a man’s world and powerful voices believed that no woman could govern. All around Mary and Elizabeth were sycophants, spies and detractors who wanted their dominion, their favour and their bodies.
Elizabeth and Mary shared the struggle to be both woman and queen. But the forces rising against the two regnants, and the conflicts of love and dynasty, drove them apart. For Mary, Elizabeth was a fellow queen with whom she dreamed of a lasting friendship. For Elizabeth, Mary was a threat. It was a schism that would end in secret assassination plots, devastating betrayal and, eventually, a terrible final act.
Mary is often seen as a defeated or tragic sovereign, but Rival Queens reveals instead how she attempted to reinvent queenship and the monarchy – in one of the hardest fights in royal history.” (Amazon blurb)
Why read Rival Queens?
I can’t think of a single reason why I wouldn’t want to read this book! First, I am Scottish. Until I was six I lived in a council house directly opposite Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh. Every day we walked past the gates of Holyrood, a palace where Mary lived and where her favourite musician, David Rizzio, was murdered. I’m not sure how old I was the first time we visited the palace but the plaque where Rizzio was murdered made a big impression on me.
Mary’s story is full of drama: from the murder of Darnley to her relationship with Bothwell, from her imprisonment in Fotheringay, to the plots and then her death on the command of her cousin Queen Elizabeth. Anyone interested in royal history should want to know more about these two Queens.
If the blurb is to believed, Kate Williams’ book is not to be missed. I love this publicity banner too, which I’ve just lifted from Amazon because it says it all: