Synopses & Reviews
The acclaimed author of The Princes in the Tower
now brilliantly investigates another of Britain’s notorious unsolved mysteries: the murder of Lord Darnley, second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots.
Tall, handsome, accomplished, and charming, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, had it all, including a strong claim to the English throne, a fact that threatened the already insecure Elizabeth I. She therefore opposed any plan for Darnley to marry her cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots, who herself claimed to be Queen of England. But in 1565 Mary met and fell in love with Darnley—and defied Elizabeth by marrying him. It was not long before she discovered that her new husband was weak and vicious, and interested only in securing sovereign power for himself.
On February 10, 1567, an explosion at his lodgings left Darnley dead. There were many who might have had a motive for murdering him, not least Mary herself. The intrigue thickened after it was discovered that apparently he had been suffocated before the blast. Emerging from the tragedy were more mysteries than any historian has ever satisfactorily solved.
Mary and Darnley’s marriage had been an adulterous disaster. After Darnley’s death, Mary showed favor to the powerful Earl of Bothwell, causing her enemies to accuse her of being his partner in both infidelity and murder. Mary insisted that the murder conspiracy had been aimed at her, and that she had escaped only by changing her plans at the last minute. It has even been suggested that Darnley himself had planned the explosion in order to kill her.
The murder of Darnley ultimately led to Mary’s ruin. After her deposition, there conveniently came to light a box of documents—the notorious Casket Letters—that her enemies claimed were proof of her guilt. But Mary was never allowed to see them, and they disappeared in 1584. The question of their authenticity has haunted historians ever since.
After exhaustive reexamination and reevaluation of the source material, Alison Weir has come up with a solution to this enduring mystery that can be substantiated by contemporary evidence, and in the process has shattered many of the misconceptions about Mary, Queen of Scots. Employing once more the bright writing and stunning characterizations that have made her a favorite writer of popular history, Weir has written one of her most engaging excursions into Britain’s bloodstained, power-obsessed past.
"[O]ne of the most intriguing murder mysteries in European history....No stone is left unturned in [Weir's] investigation, and despite its detail, her book is as dramatic as witnessing firsthand the most riveting court case." Brad Hooper, Booklist (Starred Review)
"Mary could not hope for a better advocate than Weir, who exhaustively evaluates the evidence against her and finds it lacking. Mary's ultimate sin, according to Weir, was not murder but consistently 'poor judgment,' especially in choosing men. This is entertaining popular history that will satisfy fans of Weir's previous bestsellers." Publishers Weekly
"Entertaining royal historian Weir falters with a dull attempt to discover who ordered the death of Mary Stuart's husband in 1567....[Weir] entirely fails to make the case that Mary was 'one of the most wronged women in history.' Strictly for those who like their murder mysteries ancient and peopled by aristocrats." Kirkus Reviews
"Weir skillfully analyzes the politics and religious tensions of the time. But while she adeptly makes her case, her detailed and sometimes dense book will intrigue mainly monarchy buffs." Library Journal
Armed with new information and the bright writing and stunning speculations that have made her a favorite writer of popular history, Weir reopens the case with riveting results. Mary, Queen of Scots and The Murder of Lord Darnley is one of her most engaging excursions into England's bloodstained, power-obsessed past and a worthy successor to her other bestsellers.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -649) and index.
About the Author
Alison Weir is the author of Britain's Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, The Princes in the Tower, The Wars of the Roses, and The Children of Henry VIII. She lives outside London with her husband and two children.