A new view of Mary Queen of Scots

Robert Stedall
Robert Stedall

Lurgashall author Robert Stedall is in print with Mary Queen of Scots’ Downfall: The Life and Murder of Henry, Lord Darnley.

In the early hours of February 10 1567 a large explosion ripped through the Old Provost’s lodgings at Kirk o’ Field, Edinburgh, where Mary Queen of Scotland’s consort, Henry Lord Darnley, was staying. Darnley’s body was found with that of his valet in a neighbouring garden the next morning. The Queen’s husband had been suffocated and the ramifications for Mary and Scottish history would be far-reaching… As Robert explains, Lord Darnley cuts an infamous figure in Scottish and Tudor history. In life he proved a controversial character, and his murder at Kirk o’ Field in 1567 remains one of British history’s great, unsolved mysteries. Establishing whether Mary was implicated has taxed historians ever since.

In his biography, Robert re-examines Darnley’s life and his murder, promising to shed new light and offer compelling conclusions to a story surrounded by political betrayal, murder, falsified evidence and conspiracy.

“If you attempt to write about the period of Mary Queen of Scots, it is inevitable that you become sucked into her story and the murky tales of the murders of Riccio and her husband, Lord Darnley.

“I was not an acknowledged historian and had no real access to original sources, but if I was to write a book on such a well-trodden subject, I had to say something new, but I also wanted it to be genuine history.

“My first approach was to write it from the point of view of the Scottish nobility surrounding the Scottish throne, of whom the Earl of Mar was one, but he was not, initially at least, very important to the story. Thus, it became a tale of the decline of the Scottish Crown under Mary and its remarkable recovery under her eccentric, but astute, son, James, who restored the Scottish monarchy to its former glory and even achieved her ambition of inheriting the English throne on a wave of English support.

“At this stage, I did not approach a publisher, so I set off in the dark, researching the genealogy of the Scottish peerage. I also read every modern history written about Mary and James. To my surprise there was great conflict between acknowledged historians on the facts, particularly over the murders of Riccio and Darnley. It became clear that those who had been involved in the murders had written the contemporary versions of events. Both murders involved conspiracies among sections of the Scottish nobility, often encouraged and incentivised by the English government led by William Cecil.

“Much of the evidence had been extracted under torture, and much had been fraudulently manipulated. The only common thread was a determination to remove Mary as a Catholic monarch from the Scottish throne, and to prevent her from inheriting from Elizabeth in Protestant England, despite being her dynastic heir. “

The book is published by Pen & Sword Books Limited.

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