The Girlhood of Mary Queen of Scots

The Girlhood of Mary Queen of Scots:

from her landing in France in August 1548 to her departure from France in August 1562

by Jane T Stoddart

Mary's father, James V of Scotland, died when she was just six days old, leaving the country faced with a long minority, and Henry VIII of England with a predatory gleam in his eye.

After several years of the "Rough Wooing", Mary was sent secretly to France to be brought up with Henry II's children and later to marry the Dauphin. The book focuses on the thirteen years Mary spent in France — probably the happiest of her life — cut short by her early widowhood.

The author studied the documents of the period, including private correspondence and the reports of  ambassadors to give a rounded picture of the character of young Mary. In her preface she comments that

In France Mary bore a spotless character, though she enjoyed there two years of comparative personal liberty, during which her character was free to develop along its natural lines. The Court gossip-mongers, who did not leave unassailed the conduct even of such highly placed women as Anne d'Este, Duchess of Guise, and Margaret of Valois, sister of Henry II, would have been ready to calumniate Mary on the slightest pretext.

Inevitably, the book gives a great detail about Mary's French relations — the Guise family. A number of family letters are included, showing a more tender side to their characters than is generally recognised

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The Dunnett connection:

Chapter three describes the state entry into Rouen, and the discovery of a scheme for poisoning Queen Mary devised by an archer of the guard named Robert Stuart, and disclosed by a Scot named Hérisson ... See how these events and people are woven into Francis Crawford's story in Queen's Play