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The Royal Stuarts: A History of the Family That Shaped Britain Hardcover – December 20, 2011

4.3 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Not just for history lovers but anyone hooked on Showtime's The Tudors or, currently, The Borgias...An enjoyable, often witty read, which will make for a nice introduction to the Stuarts and a fun refresher for aficionados.” ―Library Journal

“A well-fashioned history of the remarkable Scottish monarchs... A palatable history lesson that might help untangle the royal lineage web for American readers.” ―Kirkus

“Smart...A delightfully opinionated but nuanced and action-packed history.” ―Publishers Weekly

“It drips with blood, cruelty and tears... Evocative, visceral - haunting.” ―Daily Telegraph (UK)

“Lively and jauntily paced history.” ―Sunday Times (UK)

“Stirring and eloquent account of the Stuarts.” ―Scotland on Sunday

“A highly readable and impressively panoramic history.” ―The Scotsman

“[Massie] combines dry wit and fondness for well-constructed sentences with a novelist's sense of the enlivening detail.” ―Daily Express (UK)

“A pleasure to read and psychologically compelling.” ―The Spectator (UK)

About the Author

ALLAN MASSIE is the award-winning author of many novels, including his Roman Quartet ―Antony, Augustus, Tiberius and Caesar. He lives in the Scottish Borders and writes for the Daily Telegraph, Scotsman and for the Spectator, where he has a regular column.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; Book Club EDITION edition (December 20, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312581750
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312581756
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.4 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #518,369 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Didaskalex VINE VOICE on December 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover
"Mr. Massie has written a magnificent, sweeping, authoritative, warm yet wry history of this flawed but never dull family. It is just a pity that there are no pictures, for on the whole the Stuarts were a handsome lot." --Allan Mallinson, WS Journal

The Royal Stuarts ruled for over three centuries in Scotland and for a century as the Royal Family of Britain and Ireland. They were leading actors in the foremost political dramas of British history - the Scottish Wars of Independence, the Union of the Crowns, the English Civil War and the Restoration. The Royal Stuarts got strong affections and fierce rivalries, leaving their mark on an extended epoch of British history, and remain a pretty controversial and divisive within the European royal families.

Drawing on the accounts of past and present historians, novels and plays, Allan Massie, the Scottish novelist who wrote about many historical characters, tells the Stewarts family's full story (name changed to Stuarts by Mary Q/Sc), from the marshes of Brittany to the court politics of Scotland and England. Allan Massie's lively family portrait of the Stuarts dynasty takes us deep into the lives of Mary Queen of Scots, Charles I and Bonnie Prince Charlie, uncovering a family of the brave and competent, the lame and unwise.

To tell the story of this royal family from start to end is to pass through a broad search of British history. English readers may think first of the accession of James I, when the Stuart dynasty replaced the Tudors; but the Stuarts had been ruling Scotland since the late 14th century. They moved to England originally from Brittany.
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Format: Hardcover
In the late eleventh century and early twelfth century, Breton descendants of Banquo (of Shakespearean Macbeth assassination fame) begin to rise in power culminating when the grandson becomes the High Steward of Scotland, a hereditary position, and changes the family name to Stewart. The name actually becomes Stuart when Queen Mary makes the modification. In 1371, Robert II becomes the first Stewart to be a monarch. Robert III and James I, II, and III follow but none succeed as monarchs for different reasons. In 1488 James IV becomes king and brings the renaissance to Scotland while his marriage to Margaret, daughter of English King Henry VII, leads to the merging of the two kingdoms and rivalry with the Tudors that culminates with Queen Elizabeth's execution of Queen Mary in 1587. Ironically though the Tudors appeared to have won, Mary's son James VI became James I upon Elizabeth's death. The Stuarts become the rulers of both kingdoms with religious wars costing them the throne which they also regain. Their rule continues with William and Mary II (daughter of James VII and II) and ends with her sister Anne as a failure though James VIII and Charles the Pretender try to reclaim the English throne.

Allan Massie provides a deep look at the Stewart-Stuart dynasty divided into the pre monarchy origins and sixteen kings. Well-written with an exciting look at "A History of the Family That Shaped Britain", readers including Tudor-philes will appreciate the insightful and engaging story of The Royal Stuarts who historians (and the Bard) have painted as Alydar to the Tudor's Affirmed.

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In just 53 years, certainly in the lifetime of many people now living, the English monarchy will observe the jubilee of its first 1,000 years. That would be in 2066 and remembering William the Conqueror and the Norman invasion in 1066 and all that. Sitting on the throne of the United Kingdom at the time will likely be George, who was born and christened this very year, the seventh of that royal name if he chooses to use it. It is called the United Kingdom because it includes other lands than England, paramount among them Scotland which is a crown so old that, unlike the English crown, its origin is lost in the mists of time and of mythology. This wonderful book tells the tale of the Stuarts, by far the most fascinating branch of the family tree that ruled Scotland and whose descendants rule the United Kingdom today.

The Stuarts begin in 1371 with the reign of Robert II, at a time when Scots kings were more like terrible tribal warlords than monarchs with kingly dignity. The first proper Renaissance king of Scotland was James IV (1488-1513), who died in war against England at the famously disastrous battle of Flodden, where the flower of Scots aristocracy fell with him. He was followed quickly by the tyrannical James V, the famous Mary Queen of Scots that Elizabeth of England had executed for treason, and then James VI of Scotland who became James I of England and united the crowns of the two lands forever. This happened because, by way of dynastic politics, his great-grandfather James IV married Margaret Tudor, the daughter of Henry VII of England. When Henry VIII's daughter Elizabeth died never having married, James of Scotland, son of the hated Mary, became king of England and Scotland.
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