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The Royal Stuarts: A History of the Family that Shaped Britain

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"Compelling...A masterly feat...A magnificent, sweeping, authoritative, warm yet wry history." --The Wall Street Journal In this fascinating and intimate portrait of the Stuarts, author Allan Massie takes us deep into one of history's bloodiest and most tumultuous reigns. Exploring the family's lineage from the first Stuart king to the last, The Royal Stuarts is a panoramic "Compelling...A masterly feat...A magnificent, sweeping, authoritative, warm yet wry history." --The Wall Street Journal In this fascinating and intimate portrait of the Stuarts, author Allan Massie takes us deep into one of history's bloodiest and most tumultuous reigns. Exploring the family's lineage from the first Stuart king to the last, The Royal Stuarts is a panoramic history of the family that acted as a major player in the Scottish Wars of Independence, the Union of the Crowns, the English Civil War, the Restoration, and more. Drawing on the accounts of historians past and present, novels, and plays, this is the complete story of the Stuart family, documenting their path from the salt marshes of Brittany to the thrones of Scotland and England and eventually to exile. The Royal Stuarts brings to life figures like Mary, Queens of Scots, Charles I, and Bonnie Prince Charlie, uncovering a family of strong affections and fierce rivalries. Told with panache, this is the gripping true story of backstabbing, betrayal, and ambition gone awry.


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"Compelling...A masterly feat...A magnificent, sweeping, authoritative, warm yet wry history." --The Wall Street Journal In this fascinating and intimate portrait of the Stuarts, author Allan Massie takes us deep into one of history's bloodiest and most tumultuous reigns. Exploring the family's lineage from the first Stuart king to the last, The Royal Stuarts is a panoramic "Compelling...A masterly feat...A magnificent, sweeping, authoritative, warm yet wry history." --The Wall Street Journal In this fascinating and intimate portrait of the Stuarts, author Allan Massie takes us deep into one of history's bloodiest and most tumultuous reigns. Exploring the family's lineage from the first Stuart king to the last, The Royal Stuarts is a panoramic history of the family that acted as a major player in the Scottish Wars of Independence, the Union of the Crowns, the English Civil War, the Restoration, and more. Drawing on the accounts of historians past and present, novels, and plays, this is the complete story of the Stuart family, documenting their path from the salt marshes of Brittany to the thrones of Scotland and England and eventually to exile. The Royal Stuarts brings to life figures like Mary, Queens of Scots, Charles I, and Bonnie Prince Charlie, uncovering a family of strong affections and fierce rivalries. Told with panache, this is the gripping true story of backstabbing, betrayal, and ambition gone awry.

30 review for The Royal Stuarts: A History of the Family that Shaped Britain

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Huston

    There are times when a book truly sucks, and this was one of them. Massie uses mostly fictional sources, and over-glamourizes his subjects, focusing more on racy stories than anything factual. Pity, as this one could have been so much more. I can't honestly recommend this one, as I found myself getting more annoyed the more that I read. There are far better books about the Stuarts out there. Given that the author is a newspaper tabloid journalist, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Not recommende There are times when a book truly sucks, and this was one of them. Massie uses mostly fictional sources, and over-glamourizes his subjects, focusing more on racy stories than anything factual. Pity, as this one could have been so much more. I can't honestly recommend this one, as I found myself getting more annoyed the more that I read. There are far better books about the Stuarts out there. Given that the author is a newspaper tabloid journalist, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Not recommended at all. Just two stars. For the longer review, please go here: http://www.epinions.com/review/Allan_...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Paul Pessolano

    “The Royal Stuarts” by Allan Massie, published by Thomas Dunne Books. Category – English History This book could very easily been subtitled: “Off with their Heads”, Every King should have several Mistresses”, or “Let’s have another War”. Allan Massie does a masterful job of telling how the Stuarts shaped the history of Great Britain. The reader must be informed though that this is a history book and is really geared to those that have an interest in the history of Great Britain but also the lineage “The Royal Stuarts” by Allan Massie, published by Thomas Dunne Books. Category – English History This book could very easily been subtitled: “Off with their Heads”, Every King should have several Mistresses”, or “Let’s have another War”. Allan Massie does a masterful job of telling how the Stuarts shaped the history of Great Britain. The reader must be informed though that this is a history book and is really geared to those that have an interest in the history of Great Britain but also the lineage of the Stuarts. There are many interesting facts brought out in the book, as well as many supposed facts that cannot be corroborated, and certainly were made up to bring about a certain ending, oft times the ending was a beheading. The casual history fan will be awed at what when on in the lives of the Kings, the Queens, and their mistresses. One also had to very careful of whom he aligned himself up with; this could lead to great riches or a prolonged stay in the Tower of London. Wars were commonplace and were often fought over trivial matters. Massie does a nice job of telling the Stuart story chronologically which makes it an easier read. The story has a nice flow to it but does hit some dead spots when the Stuart in question leads a life that would be considered dull compared to some family members.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    This is a hard book for me to rate. It was very informative( I would rate a 5 star for this), not text book but finely tuned history-not a "story". I found it somewhat hard to read in terms of following the family lines-even though I'm familiar with the history(I would rate a 3 or 4 star for this). Took me much longer to read than usual because I followed up with all the footnotes cited in the back of the book. Massie is a good and thorough writer. I do recommend reading the "Envoi" chapter (the This is a hard book for me to rate. It was very informative( I would rate a 5 star for this), not text book but finely tuned history-not a "story". I found it somewhat hard to read in terms of following the family lines-even though I'm familiar with the history(I would rate a 3 or 4 star for this). Took me much longer to read than usual because I followed up with all the footnotes cited in the back of the book. Massie is a good and thorough writer. I do recommend reading the "Envoi" chapter (the finale,per se) It is a good summary on the whole-maybe even start off reading here and then go to the beginning. If you are into British history this is a must.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sarah - All The Book Blog Names Are Taken

    My book blog ---> allthebookblognamesaretaken.blogspot.com I keep trying to get beyond James VI/I, but I fear I never will. I picked this one up because I thought maybe if I read about the Stuart family, instead of just Great Britain AFTER James, it might make a difference. Sadly, it does not. James is really the last one who is interesting to me, I think because I kind of feel bad for him because he gets such crap for being 'undignified' for a king - I guess he was allowed to be a tipsy whenever My book blog ---> allthebookblognamesaretaken.blogspot.com I keep trying to get beyond James VI/I, but I fear I never will. I picked this one up because I thought maybe if I read about the Stuart family, instead of just Great Britain AFTER James, it might make a difference. Sadly, it does not. James is really the last one who is interesting to me, I think because I kind of feel bad for him because he gets such crap for being 'undignified' for a king - I guess he was allowed to be a tipsy whenever he felt like it, because he felt the being king was a God-given right for him. The difference between James and his son Charles, who was never supposed to be king to begin with, is that while James felt that way he did not shove it in the faces of all his subjects and counselors. Charles and his father could not have been more opposite and unfortunately in the end, it cost Charles both his crown and his life. But don't even get me started on Cromwell. Ugh. So, the good, the bad, and the ugly... The Good: I like that a chapter was devoted to each member of the family, starting before the first Stewart king and explaining both the history and legend of the family - the name deriving from the title of Steward, someone in service of the king (The spelling would later be changed to Stuart with Mary, Queen of Scots, who spent the majority of her childhood and young adulthood in France. She used the French spelling, often signing her name Marie Stuart). I also liked that it was divided in such a way that helped me keep track of who was doing what in Scotland, to mirror my knowledge of what was going on in England at the same time. While English kings make their appearances (Hey, Hammer of the Scots!), I appreciate Scotland getting their due turn in the spotlight. If only they could be their independent nation again. But that is another story. The Bad: Super gossipy sometimes. The author goes so far at one point as to suggest that Maximilian had fallen in love with Perkin Warbeck, the pretender to the thrown of England who claimed he was the younger of the two Princes in the Tower (Richard, Duke of York). Really, he was in love with him? I think not, as nothing else I have ever read about Perkin Warbeck or ol' Max would ever suggest that. Also, not very creative with describing the somewhat unsuccessful reigns of Robert II and Robert III. We get it, they were older when taking the throne, and weren't great leaders. But gosh darn it, they were nice people. That's kind of how it comes across, and that's not very scholarly. Be more objective. The Ugly: The author's extreme obsession with obscenely long sentences, broken, up, by, several, commas. Not kidding. Example (page 140): "Elizabeth, who disliked bloodshed, except when alarmed, might be, despite everything, well disposed towards her 'cousin and sister', but the men around her were Mary's enemies." SERIOUSLY? So unnecessary. Interesting quotes: (page 34) "Later Stewarts might fall into melancholy and depression, but Margaret is the only one recorded as dying of boredom." (page 85) "It seems to have been a matter of no great moment to him (Henry VIII), and the coffin was left at Sheen in a storeroom. It disappeared when that monastery was dissolved more than twenty years later, and no one knows where the bones of Scotland's Renaissance King found their last resting place." Isn't that depressing?! There is no record of where James IV is buried, and Henry was, no surprise, being a jerk about giving a fellow king and appropriate burial. It should come as no surprise that my biggest gripes come in regards to dear Mary, who for all her flaws and incredibly poor decision-making, is never given a proper look. She was not this wicked queen, she was just someone who had unfortunately not been prepared for anything but queenship, so she did not know how to be anything else once she was in captivity. The author makes some assumptions that I don't agree with, and seems to be presenting them as fact. One example, on page 114, he talks about Mary's half brother the Earl of Moray being loyal to her especially in the beginning because their interests were similar. That's completely untrue. The only reason he did not turn on her from the start, or even try to gain the throne himself while she was still in France, was because he knew he would not be successful without greater support. He waited until the right time, then showed his true colors. He was never loyal to Mary. Mary, on the other hand, certainly deserves credit for how she handled the situation after her secretary Riccio was murdered. She feigned conciliation with the murderers to continue to keep the government going and it served her well for the time being, until Darnley's untimely but not unwelcome end. I can though, appreciate the author's conclusion that Mary was not an active conspirator in Darnley's death. I think it is pretty certain that Bothwell murdered him, with help, and then forced Mary into marriage after raping her - something she herself says happened. I don't think she felt she had any choice at that point, as in the past he had always bee on her side. Unfortunately for Mary, it was because he too wanted power, hated Moray, and saw Mary as a way to accomplish both seizing control and getting rid of Moray. Luckily, Bothwell ended up dying in Denmark after being locked away and going mad. Good riddance. And thus, unfortunately again, his actions had long-reaching consequences for Mary. I won't touch any more on what I think of Elizabeth and her false imprisonment of a fellow sovereign. Anyone who has read any other review I have written about that childish, manipulative shrew knows what I think of her and her rubbish about not meaning to sign the death warrant. Of course she meant to. Ugh. Anyway. So, certainly recommended for anyone interested in the time period or the family. You'll have to wade through some nonsense, and if you have a background already related to the Stuarts there will be some facts you'll call bluff on. But it is an easy read, and an interesting one - for me just through James anyway!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nikhil Iyengar

    Well, that was thoroughly not compelling at all. I don't have anything against the Stuarts, but I do have some issues with the writing style of this author and the structure used to describe the reigns and lives of the James'. The information that you could acquire from this book is probably adequate, especially those of the two Charles and James VI and I. But the way that their narratives are inconsistently broken down and then dished out without much ceremony is pretty tedious. Sometimes the a Well, that was thoroughly not compelling at all. I don't have anything against the Stuarts, but I do have some issues with the writing style of this author and the structure used to describe the reigns and lives of the James'. The information that you could acquire from this book is probably adequate, especially those of the two Charles and James VI and I. But the way that their narratives are inconsistently broken down and then dished out without much ceremony is pretty tedious. Sometimes the author merely focusses on the big picture and omits the personal life of the monarch or it's the other way around. The only part that's uniform is the description of the monarch by contemporaries, which isn't always intriguing either. It's credible enough, but it doesn't evoke and move as history should.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Edith

    "The Royal Stuarts" is a well written (explicitly non-academic) survey of the family which produced a dynasty of kings, and whose blood runs in the veins of the present ruler of Great Britain. (Indeed, when and if the Duke of Cambridge become king, it will course even more vigorously--his mother, Diana, Princess of wales, was a direct descendant of Charles II, unlike his father Prince Charles, who gets his drop of Stuart blood via a daughter of James I.) The Stewarts or Stuarts (Mary Queen of Sco "The Royal Stuarts" is a well written (explicitly non-academic) survey of the family which produced a dynasty of kings, and whose blood runs in the veins of the present ruler of Great Britain. (Indeed, when and if the Duke of Cambridge become king, it will course even more vigorously--his mother, Diana, Princess of wales, was a direct descendant of Charles II, unlike his father Prince Charles, who gets his drop of Stuart blood via a daughter of James I.) The Stewarts or Stuarts (Mary Queen of Scots changed to the latter spelling to ease pronunciation for her French family) arrived in Britain with the Normans, and found a place for themselves in Scotland. The tale of their rise to the crown is a bloody one, proving that, for example, the Tudors were not the only family killing off their kin to consolidate power. (An English army in the time of Henry VIII beat the Scots at Flodden Field and killed the King, who happened to be Henry's brother-in-law, husband of his sister Margaret Tudor. Regent Catherine of Aragon enthusiastically dispatched the king's bloody coat to her husband in France.) Not many of them died in bed. They came to England with the death of Elizabeth I, and ruled England, Scotland, and Ireland until the death of Queen Anne, and caused a good deal of trouble thereafter in the shape of the Jacobite rebellions of 1715 and 1745, aiming to put the exiled branch of the Stuart family back on the throne. Allan Massie has an excellent command of this huge sweep of history and personalities--a good thing, because I knew very little of the early Stewarts. He has provided a handy set of family trees--although even these cannot entirely clarify who was what, and who did what, to whom in the early days of Stewart monarchy. They early on established the habit of having large legitimate and, simultaneously, illegitimate families. Brother killed brother; uncle, nephew; and so on in a manner that defied my ability to follow (especially since most people seemed to be named James or Alexander). I do not blame Massie for this--but I would have had to get out a pad and pencil to really follow what went on. It got easier with the later Jameses--after they got to England, a piece of cake. Like some other readers, I missed having portraits. Portraits of the early Stewarts were non-existent, then primitive, but of the later ones, we only have the five miniatures on the cover, and there are plenty of portraits from that period. A map or two might have been nice as well. I found this family biography very readable (with the above exception), literate, and, for the most part, well-balanced. (Although I am not hostile to Mary Stuart, Massie obviously fell in love with her at an early age, and is too willing to be her apologist. However, his explanation of why Darnley's body was found outside in what appeared to be odd circumstances I found entirely credible.). He writes with humor and compassion. I do not find the mere use of Sir Walter Scott's poetry as a commentary inappropriate in the least. I expected to find, from some other reviews, that Massie had relied almost exclusively on literature as source material, but a look at his notes, as well as reading what literary quotes there were, in context, put this complaint to rest for me. He has used, and footnoted, sources, including contemporary ones, appropriate for a historical survey intended for a general audience, and, as he mentions early on, not intended as an academic work. I also do not understand the complaint that the book is "gossipy," unless by the word reviewers mean what contemporaries of the Stuarts thought, said, and believed about them. How does one write a meaningful biography without that? It's all here: the Stone of Scone, Macbeth and Banquo, Bonnie Prince Charlie, Glencoe, the Auld Alliance, the Winter King and Queen, the continual playing off of England against Scotland and France or Spain, religion, literature, romance, betrayal. Allan Massie does an excellent job of containing the Stuarts in 330 pages of text, (with notes, ideas for further reading, and family trees). If you have an interest in Scottish, English, or British history, I think you will enjoy this book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    GoldGato

    The Stuarts. Stubborn to the point of losing realms and heads (literally), they made quite the impact on the Scottish and English thrones. Allan Massie always has fun with his subjects and he clearly enjoys writing about this house of royals who originated in Brittany and eventually ruled a united Britain. Family feeling may easily be extinguished when power is the prize. This is a chronological examination of each reigning Stuart personality from Robert II of Scotland to the Young Pretender. The The Stuarts. Stubborn to the point of losing realms and heads (literally), they made quite the impact on the Scottish and English thrones. Allan Massie always has fun with his subjects and he clearly enjoys writing about this house of royals who originated in Brittany and eventually ruled a united Britain. Family feeling may easily be extinguished when power is the prize. This is a chronological examination of each reigning Stuart personality from Robert II of Scotland to the Young Pretender. The family name changes from Steward to Stewart to Stuart as we pass by the 'mournful procession of the Jameses'. None of the first five Scottish kings named James survived past the age of 43, but they had quite a lively time of it. Parliaments are like cats; they grow crabbit with age. When we finally get past the high drama of Mary Queen of Scots, we get the rather strange James VI/I, with his strong will and love for pretty boys. This is the monarch who unofficially united the British isle, only to have his son Charles I, who acted more like a university don than king, lose control and his own head. Luckily, the swinging Charles II restored power to the Crown and can truly be remembered as the last dynamic King of England. Alas, brother James VII/II lost it again and there went the path toward the future Hanover dynasty. Unlucky in weather and religion, the Stuarts were excellent when young but quickly deteriorated as they aged. Even Queen Victoria referred to them as that 'unhappy race'. Still, Massie makes an excellent point in that a family that ruled for more than three centuries should not be considered failures. Fun to read and hard to put down, I think each reader will discover their own favourite Stuart royal by story end. These royals would make excellent bobbleheads. Book Season = Winter (cold highlands)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Wagner

    Covering the history of the Stuart dynasty from the Middle Ages through the 18th century is a daunting topic and yet this volume manages to accomplish it in less than 400 pages. The result is, as might be expected, dense. At times, that density made this book difficult read, but I did appreciate the amount of detail and story the author managed to include. While I felt I understood much of the history surrounding the Stuarts prior to this book, I discovered new things and there a several topics Covering the history of the Stuart dynasty from the Middle Ages through the 18th century is a daunting topic and yet this volume manages to accomplish it in less than 400 pages. The result is, as might be expected, dense. At times, that density made this book difficult read, but I did appreciate the amount of detail and story the author managed to include. While I felt I understood much of the history surrounding the Stuarts prior to this book, I discovered new things and there a several topics and historical figures mentioned that I hope to explore further.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Melisende

    I found the info on the James' lacking in substance as well - which is pretty much what I was looking for - not particularly interested in the Stuarts after Charles - and Mary, quite frankly, is a pain in the arse. Glad to see I was not the only one who couldn't rate it over two stars. I found the info on the James' lacking in substance as well - which is pretty much what I was looking for - not particularly interested in the Stuarts after Charles - and Mary, quite frankly, is a pain in the arse. Glad to see I was not the only one who couldn't rate it over two stars.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Anthony Nelson

    Charming, breezy history of the Stuart dynasty. Massie gives thumbnail sketches of each monarch, but you may want to take his interpretation of some with a grain of salt.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lois is recovering slowly

    I enjoyed this. It's easy light reading and fairly interesting. Extremely readable. I don't know much about this period in history yet so I can't say if this was accurate or off. However, the author references Sir Walter Scott often and so I'm guessing not that accurate. None the less an entertaining and light look at the Stuart Monarchs. I enjoyed this. It's easy light reading and fairly interesting. Extremely readable. I don't know much about this period in history yet so I can't say if this was accurate or off. However, the author references Sir Walter Scott often and so I'm guessing not that accurate. None the less an entertaining and light look at the Stuart Monarchs.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    This was a very enjoyable read. I particularly appreciated how it lead the reader down the Stuart family tree. I love reading historical biographies and I've read a number about Mary, Queen of Scots, and Charles II and his father, as well as Mary and Anne, the daughters of James II, however, I really knew practically nothing about the early Stuarts nor what happened to the family after James II was kicked out of Britain. It just made all so much more sense to me, than reading individual biograph This was a very enjoyable read. I particularly appreciated how it lead the reader down the Stuart family tree. I love reading historical biographies and I've read a number about Mary, Queen of Scots, and Charles II and his father, as well as Mary and Anne, the daughters of James II, however, I really knew practically nothing about the early Stuarts nor what happened to the family after James II was kicked out of Britain. It just made all so much more sense to me, than reading individual biographies one after another, to have the feeling of continuity. This book doesn't include a huge amount of detail about each monarch, but instead focuses on the main themes of their life and adds in interesting points, where necessary, so it does miss out a huge amount. Having said that, it really sparked my interest in those about whom I knew nothing, and I intend to raid the bibliography! It also struck me that this would make a great "introduction to" for people who know absolutely nothing about the Stuart family members and don't know where to start. It's written in an accessible way, giving you a real flavor of how the Scottish and English kingdoms were ruled differently, what made a successful monarch and what made a failure, and how much of history was essentially chaotic for this family. 4 stars. I really liked it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sally

    A fascinating look at where the Stuarts came from, how they came to power, and how that power was eventually lost due to the politics of a state faith.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jason Cecil

    Pretty good read that takes you through the royal Stuart/Stewart line without getting too bogged down. Fun for a royal history buff

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sherry Sharpnack

    What a group of feckless idiots! The Stewarts/Stuarts claimed descent from Robert the Bruce and were Kings of Scotland for hundreds of years, and of England for 100 years. Most of them were stubborn, poor rulers, except for James IV and V, who both lost major battles to the English and died young. Smart of them. A couple of them were murdered by their nobles. James V was succeeded by his six-day-Old daughter, Mary, who eventually lost her head b/c she conspired the death of her cousin/jailer, El What a group of feckless idiots! The Stewarts/Stuarts claimed descent from Robert the Bruce and were Kings of Scotland for hundreds of years, and of England for 100 years. Most of them were stubborn, poor rulers, except for James IV and V, who both lost major battles to the English and died young. Smart of them. A couple of them were murdered by their nobles. James V was succeeded by his six-day-Old daughter, Mary, who eventually lost her head b/c she conspired the death of her cousin/jailer, Elizabeth I. Maybe Mary was framed by Elizabeth’s spymaster... or maybe she wasn’t. We’ll probably never know the truth. Mary wasn’t the only Stuart to lose her head: her grandson, Charles I, had the distinction of causing a Civil War and being executed after a trial in Parliament. Smooth move, Chuck. His son was asked back to the throne in 1660 after England figured out it wanted a king after all... but after easy-going Charles II, his brother was Catholic, married a Catholic, and they had a son. England couldn’t handle a Catholic succession, so they kicked James out and invited his daughter and son-in-law from the Netherlands to replace him, and become a constitutional monarchy, meaning Parliament was in control, not them. Queen Anne was the last Stuart British monarch, who legally united the two kingdoms w/ the Act of Union in 1707. Parliament had to by-pass FIFTY-SEVEN Stuart heirs to get to Sophia, Electress of Hanover, to find a Protestant heir to Queen Anne! The Stuarts were bad sovereigns, but good breeders. When Sophia’s son, George of Hanover, became George I after Anne’s death, Scotland especially was disgruntled by having a non-English-speaking, non-Scot as ruler, so hence the two Jacobite “rebellions” trying to put Stuarts back on the throne. First, the “Old” Pretender—James II’s son James. Second, the “Young” Pretender, Bonnie Prince Charlie, in 1745, as memorably portrayed in the early “Outlander” books and TV show. Both were doomed to failure b/c Britain had moved on. “The Royal Stuarts” was an interesting book if you’re mad about history, as I am, but if you want a better book about the Stuarts, I would recommend “Daughters of the Winter Queen” about Elizabeth Stuart, Daughter of James I and sister of Charles I, and her children. SHE would have been a far-better replacement for the great Elizabeth I than her father was, IMHO.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Lomako

    This is a chronicle of the Royal House of Stewart/ Stuart. This tome follows the Stewarts from their humble beginnings, as their first known steward ancestor travels from Brittany to England (a link to ‘Macbeth’ there); to the peak of Stewart Kingship in Scotland; and back to England as Kings of Great Britain. 🇬🇧 A somewhat melancholy epilogue is unavoidable, as their legitimate male line dies out with a Cardinal in Italy, who at one point is proclaimed to be Henry IX. 👑 There is a lot to unpack her This is a chronicle of the Royal House of Stewart/ Stuart. This tome follows the Stewarts from their humble beginnings, as their first known steward ancestor travels from Brittany to England (a link to ‘Macbeth’ there); to the peak of Stewart Kingship in Scotland; and back to England as Kings of Great Britain. 🇬🇧 A somewhat melancholy epilogue is unavoidable, as their legitimate male line dies out with a Cardinal in Italy, who at one point is proclaimed to be Henry IX. 👑 There is a lot to unpack here. Every chapter tells of one Stew/uart monarch in a very dynamic yet succinct way #StuartStew 🤴🏻 This volume puts this Royal House under one narrative umbrella. Of course, there was more Stuart blood on the British throne after Queen Anne: the Hanoverians themselves were descendants of James VI of Scotland; and Queen Victoria herself was proud of her Stewart and Stuart lineage. 👸🏻 The story of Royal Stew/uarts covers roughly four centuries, and the cast of characters and events is to die for, literally: murder, betrayals, family politics, love matches, beheadings, executions, Religious Reformation, Civil War, assassinations, an exploding cannon, Regicide execution, and all that before you even get to the official ‘Stuart Age’ in the 17th century. 🍌🍍 All the above is then superseded by Witch hunts, Gunpowder plot, more executions, more love matches, more Regicide executions, Great Fire of London, Great Plague, an abdication, a revolution, topped by another civil war and finally exile. 🏹 A link to Flaald (Fleance in ‘Macbeth’) is also included, along with the Stuarts’ FitzAlan ancestors. 💣 All in all, the Stew/uarts were a nuclear dynasty and deserve to be celebrated as such. Move over, Tudors. #keepitstuart 🤩

  17. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    A brisk history of the Stuart family, from Robert Stewart's marriage to Marjorie Bruce (daughter of Robert the Bruce) in the earth 14th century to the death of Bonnie Prince Charlie, at the end of the eighteenth. The history of Scotland, then England, then eventually the rest of Europe, unfolds as the Stuart family rises from obscurity to power, before gradually fading into the shadows again. I really enjoyed this one. For someone who didn't know a whole bunch about the Stuarts before, I came aw A brisk history of the Stuart family, from Robert Stewart's marriage to Marjorie Bruce (daughter of Robert the Bruce) in the earth 14th century to the death of Bonnie Prince Charlie, at the end of the eighteenth. The history of Scotland, then England, then eventually the rest of Europe, unfolds as the Stuart family rises from obscurity to power, before gradually fading into the shadows again. I really enjoyed this one. For someone who didn't know a whole bunch about the Stuarts before, I came away feeling like I had learned a lot, without being inundated with dry facts. The whole work was well paced and with each chapter I found myself feeling sympathy for the latest Stuart and their particular failings. Massie admits to being something of a Jacobite himself, which explains why he has so little to say about Mary II or Anne (a shame, in my mind). I also depicted a bit of sexism in his treatment of John Knox, but his passionate defense of Mary, Queen of Scots allows me to forgive him that. Highly recommend for any age (Massie isn't given to bawdiness, as some historians are). I'll look out for more from Allan Massie.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    I know, the author goes out on some gossipy limbs, but he is careful in his language about them. And unlike others, I appreciated the contextualuzation in Scottish culture that many of the literary sources provided. I read this book for three reasons. (1) I understand the Tudors and I get the Hanoverians, but as a clueless American, I had no idea what went on in between. (2) I have English and Scots ancestors who emigrated to New Jersey and Pennsylvania in the 1650s-70s and I wanted to know what I know, the author goes out on some gossipy limbs, but he is careful in his language about them. And unlike others, I appreciated the contextualuzation in Scottish culture that many of the literary sources provided. I read this book for three reasons. (1) I understand the Tudors and I get the Hanoverians, but as a clueless American, I had no idea what went on in between. (2) I have English and Scots ancestors who emigrated to New Jersey and Pennsylvania in the 1650s-70s and I wanted to know what they were leaving behind. And (3) I am watching Highlander. After reading this very accessible account, I feel a good bit more informed. And if I want to.put my academic hat on, there are plenty of footnotes to follow up.

  19. 4 out of 5

    han ✨

    I'll read any accessible history of the Stuarts but this was terrible. Not much referencing, acting on conjecture and misogynistic. Alan Massie says Knox couldn't have been a misogynist because apart from Queen Mary he liked women because he married a teenage and had lots of children with her. The assertion that Henrietta Maria was a "silly woman" without any examples to back up this opinion. He has a fair view on Anne which I'll begrudgingly give him credit for. Oh and also, Alan? Charles I was I'll read any accessible history of the Stuarts but this was terrible. Not much referencing, acting on conjecture and misogynistic. Alan Massie says Knox couldn't have been a misogynist because apart from Queen Mary he liked women because he married a teenage and had lots of children with her. The assertion that Henrietta Maria was a "silly woman" without any examples to back up this opinion. He has a fair view on Anne which I'll begrudgingly give him credit for. Oh and also, Alan? Charles I was 5"3/4. Don't say he was "five-foot" if you cannot even do a basic cursory internet search on his widely accepted height.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Theresa Leone Davidson

    My husband read this and wanted my opinion so I read it. It is quite good, if you like a summary of events and people in the Stuart clan (including Mary Stuart, a fascinating figure in history, if for no other reason than she was Elizabeth I's cousin and her opposite in SO many ways, like how easily she was manipulated by others, and Elizabeth was not). However, if you want something more in depth, you will need to continue reading. I think what makes this book good is that if you do not really My husband read this and wanted my opinion so I read it. It is quite good, if you like a summary of events and people in the Stuart clan (including Mary Stuart, a fascinating figure in history, if for no other reason than she was Elizabeth I's cousin and her opposite in SO many ways, like how easily she was manipulated by others, and Elizabeth was not). However, if you want something more in depth, you will need to continue reading. I think what makes this book good is that if you do not really know much about the family, reading this will give you an idea of which events or people you think you would want to go into depth with, and choose other books accordingly.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Joyce

    I actually really only a couple of chapters of this book; the project I am working on required only background on James 1 and Charles 1. I found it to be excellent. Good information, engaging, sympathetic to the personalities involved, and in the Charles 1 chapter, a blessedly succinct account of the English Civil War.

  22. 4 out of 5

    John P. Davidson

    After reading a book by Margaret George about Mary Stuart I wanted to learn more about the entire family. This book covers everyone in the family and all of the major events in which they were involved, from the Scottish Wars of Independence to the English Civil War and the Restoration. Well written and interesting, I would recommend this.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Karen Syed

    A fascinating read to be certain. Being a genealogy buff, I found this book to be very useful. As a reader, I was loathe to stop reading to do other mundane things. The topic is amazing in itself and Massie did a good job bringing the royal spirits to life again.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sofia :)

    This book is a quick summary of the Stuarts. It was informative but lacks detail and depth. Massie should have used names more frequently as sometimes I’d forget who I’m reading about. Not recommended if you want a detailed book about the Stuarts.

  25. 5 out of 5

    John

    So I've read a book about the Plantagenet reign, the Tudor reign and now the Stuart reign. Liked all three books (three different authors), but this seemed to be the least engrossing. And I've already forgotten the facts I just read about. So I've read a book about the Plantagenet reign, the Tudor reign and now the Stuart reign. Liked all three books (three different authors), but this seemed to be the least engrossing. And I've already forgotten the facts I just read about.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    A great explanation of the Stuart history and explanation of the reason and the failings of the Jacobite uprisings.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    Great presentation of a dynasty.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Craig

    I learned some interesting facts about the Stuarts. The writing was a little dry and slow, but there were just enough bits of interesting things to make it worth slogging through.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    It is very long, obviously, but not boring at all if you love history.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Candy

    I enjoyed reading this book. Found very many books on the Tudors, but not many on the Stuarts. I found this book informative and not a bore to read.

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