The abundance of biographies, novels, movies, and television focused on the Tudors makes it appear that every angle of their lives has been dissected and discussed. So it is surprising (and delightful) to find a book that is the first biography written about a fascinating and important member of that family. It’s even better when the biography is penned by well-known historian Allison Weir. I’ve read and enjoyed several other biographies written by Alison Weir, and this book is no exception.
Tudor princess Margaret Douglas was born with a claim to both the English and Scottish crowns. Her mother, Margaret Tudor, was queen of Scotland, and her half-brother, James V, became King of Scotland. Her grandfather was Henry VII of England, and her uncle was the infamous Henry VIII. Her royal blood proved to be both a blessing and a curse. She came of age at the English court, and received favor (most of the time) from Henry VIII. But she was often under suspicion as a Catholic and potential usurper to the English throne.
Before reading this book, my only real knowledge of Margaret was as the mother of the ill-fated Lord Darnley, the murdered husband of Mary Queen of Scots. She had been a peripheral character in the biographies of others. Allison Weir’s book sheds light on this strong and powerful woman who lead a fascinating life and navigated the treacherous Tudor court. She is a true survivor.
Margaret spent her early life in Scotland with her mother, and then joined the court of her uncle Henry VIII after her parents divorced. During Henry’s reign, she served as lady in waiting to queens Anne Boleyn, Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard, and Katherine Parr. She also wrote poetry and, to Henry’s great displeasure fell in love twice. One of these affairs landed her in the Tower of London. Finally, with Henry’s approval, she married Matthew Stuart, Earl of Lennox. Their marriage was a love match, but nonetheless was filled with controversy and tragedy.
Margaret and Lennox devoted their lives to the dynastic claims of their children. Without the consent of Elizabeth I, they plotted for their son Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley to marry Mary Queen of Scots. This action landed them both in the Tower and later resulted in Darnley’s murder. Margaret would be sent to the Tower one more time after marrying off her son Charles without Elizabeth’s consent.
Weir’s research and information is extremely thorough and she brings Margaret into sharp focus. Those interested in Tudor history or biographies of strong females will enjoy this book.
Author: Alison Weir
Publication Date: January 12, 2016
Source: Net Galley