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Ungrateful Daughters: The Stuart Princesses Who Stole Their Father's Crown Hardcover – January 21, 2003
This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, "The Lying Game." See more
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From Publishers Weekly
In November 1688, the Protestant Prince William of Orange landed in England with an invading Dutch army. The Catholic King of Britain, James II, prepared to meet William in battle, but the unpopular James soon found himself deserted by his army and navy-and, most surprisingly, by his own daughters. Crestfallen, James fled to France, and William became king. This "Glorious Revolution," London-based historian Waller (1700: Scenes from London Life) tells us, was largely the product of a family feud. James's eldest daughter, Mary, was married to William, who was also James's nephew. James's other daughter, Anne, also defected to William. Why did both daughters betray their father at his hour of greatest need? Waller believes it was partly religion-the fervently Catholic James had failed to convert his Protestant daughters and nation. Moreover, Princess Anne loathed her Catholic stepmother, Queen Mary Beatrice. When the queen became pregnant in late 1687, Anne claimed the pregnancy was a papist hoax. As for Mary, she supported her husband, William, and her Anglican faith. Neither Mary nor Anne had children, and Anne eventually became the last Stuart monarch. Waller, using Stuart family letters and an impressive array of secondary sources, has written a highly readable, thoroughly researched family saga that shows vividly how the personal and the political interacted to produce one of the seminal events in British history. 16 pages of color photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
“Richly illuminating...this is history at its most enjoyable and personal, narrated with brio, based on solid research, and brought to life with the social detail at which Waller excels.” --The London Times
“Waller’s voice is appealing, and her opinions as spirited as they are intelligent. Her light style and sense of drama are so compelling that you hardly notice her scholarship. Ungrateful Daughters is a wonderful book.” --The New Statesman [U.K.]
“The historical facts of the story are well known, but it is Maureen Waller’s treatment of the personal aspects of the betrayal, based on the letters which the chief participants wrote at the time, which gives it poignancy.... Fascinating.” --The Spectator [U.K.]
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Top customer reviews
Both Anne and her sister were raised as Children of State. Their upbringing was directed by Charles II and his ministers with the goal in mind of creating staunch Protestant heirs to the throne. From their earliest childhood they were brought up to disdain the religion of their father and stepmother and with a firm belief in popish plots. That in their adult years, they fulfilled this role shows them to be grateful Daughters of State more than ungrateful daughters to James.
This book is worth reading for it's strong narrative of events surrounding the birth of James' son and its recounting of the events in the revolution itself. However the reader must keep and open mind about some of the conclusions. "Ungrateful Daughters" chronicles the events and aftermath of the Glorious Revolution. The bloodless coup that removed James II from the English throne and installed his Daughter Mary and her husband William as joint monarchs. Maureen Waller, the author, writes not of high politics but rather tells the story of a family split by politics, religion, and perhaps even simple jealousy. While the title references both daughters, it is the younger Anne, who Ms Waller sees that the prime villain of the piece.
Maureen Waller's narrative of events is divided into three sections. In the first third of the book, she provides biographies of each of the main participants in the family drama. This is then followed with a narrative of the events surrounding the revolution itself and King James' escape to France to join up with his wife and infant son. The last third of the book presents the reigns of Mary, William, and the last Stuart, Queen Anne.
In an ironic twist the revolution's direct cause was the one thing all Kings strive for - the birth of a male heir. However, King James II was a Catholic king in a protestant country. While many of his subjects we displeased with the favoritism shown by James in promoting Catholics to high office, they were content to bide their time and await the reign of his daughter. When James announced that his young wife was pregnant, many Protestants began to see this a danger to the reformation and the country. Rumors were spread that the pregnancy was a hoax; that James was planning to foist an unroyal infant on the nation, and that the infant was to be raised a catholic to prevent the monarchy from falling back into protestant hands. To prevent this from happening, Protest nobles invited James' son-in-law, Prince William of Orange, to invade England in order to protect his wife's claim to the crown and to rule England in her name. James' escape to France proved a convenient excuse for Parliament to declare that he had abdicated the Throne and then award it to his heir Mary and her husband.
After the successful invasion, William became preoccupied with cementing his hold on the government and using English resources in his war against Louis XIV of France The relation ship between the Queen and Anne soon deteriorated as they quarreled over Sarah Churchill. After Mary's death from smallpox, Anne and William reconcile outwardly, but animosity remained throughout the rest of William's reign.
Anne's reign began in 1702 following the death of her unpopular brother-in-law. The premature death of Anne's son in 1701 meant that Anne would be the last Stuart monarch. It was a time of great success for Anne as England became the most powerful nation in the world thanks to its successful war against France ended in 1713; it was also a time of great sadness as Anne was to loose many of her former friends and favorites as she grew into the role of queen and attempted to implement her own policies. Anne's death in 1714 was end of the Stuart line. By the act of settlement in 1701 the throne passed to the Elector George Ludwig of Hanover.
Maureen Waller's book might as easily have been called "Ungrateful Anne". The author places much responsibility for the Glorious Revolution on Anne. Her position in the English court gave her greater access to information than her sister possessed. Mary was frustrated at Anne's failure to be at the birth of the Prince James and her inability to provide more accurate and unbiased facts surrounding the birth. It is Anne who always gets the role of bad apple. Anne who kills one younger sibling with an accidental exposure to smallpox. Anne who refuses to give up her court favorites at her sister's request. Anne who sends Mary nasty notes about their stepmother.
Mary is portrayed as devoted to her husband William and interested in making sure that a changling is not allowed to usurp the crown. James II is a doting father and Mary Beatrice is a loving, if naïve, stepmother who can't imagine how Anne or Mary would not be overjoyed at loosing her own place in the succession.
The narrative structure of the first third of the book focuses on each of the participants in turn. This means that a great deal of material is covered repeatedly. To some extent this is useful as each time it is from a different perspective, however it comes off primarily as redundant since the author is advocating for her perspective against Anne in each of these sections.
At first the relationship between the princesses and their young stepmother was very warm; but as she grew older, Anne became more and more hostile to her father and stepmother, who became the King and Queen of England in 1685. When the pregnancy of Mary of Modena became known in 1688, it was Anne who eagerly picked up the malicious rumours that the child would be illegitimate and later, when the boy was born, that it was a changeling. She passed these on to her sister Mary in Holland, who believed them.
In 1677 Mary had married her cousin William III of Orange: Charles II’s government had forced upon the King the desirability of a Dutch alliance, and the marriage had taken place against the wishes of her father. Mary was a gentler soul than her sister and had none of Anne’s resentment against James II and his queen; but she accepted Anne’s story. As for William, he was embattled against France with whom James was now allied, had an interest in overthrowing his father-in-law; and Mary felt it her duty to support her husband, though, unlike Anne, she was always pained by the choice she had had to make in loyalty to her husband and her church.
There is a very detailed and graphic account of the Revolution of 1688/9, during which the focus shifts for long stretches from the “ungrateful daughters” to William, who played his strong hand so skilfully, and to James, who played his weak one with his usual ineptitude.
William and Mary were declared jointly King and Queen. This would mean that if Mary pre-deceased William (as she did in 1694) William would continue to rule rather than that the Crown would pass directly to Anne. Anne resented this greatly, and immediately became hostile to William whom she called “the Dutch Abortion”. She was also worked up to this by her closest friend, Sarah Churchill. Her husband had been made Earl of Marlborough; but William distrusted a man who had already betrayed one king, and Marlborough was aware of that. In 1691 he made contact through intermediaries with James, and when William discovered that, he stripped Marlborough of all his offices and ordered him to leave the Court. Anne defiantly took Sarah to the Court, and when Mary told Anne that she must dismiss Sarah, Anne defied her and left the Court altogether. The sisters did not see each other during the last two years of Mary’s life.
After Mary’s death, various politicians brought about a reconciliation between William and his heir apparent, and Marlborough was brought back to the Court, and would brilliantly lead the Army in Anne’s reign.
The picture of Anne that emerges in the years before she became Queen is a very unpleasant one: resentful, quarrelsome, deceitful, and selfish. Only in the last chapter, which chronicles her reign, do we have some sympathy with her, as she is bullied by the tactless and presumptuous Sarah to take ministers she did not want, until the Queen could stand it no longer and sent her old friend packing.
I am quite well acquainted with the period; but I have learned much from this book that I did not know. For instance, I knew nothing of Mary of Modena, other than that her giving birth to James Edward, the future Old Pretender, was the final trigger for the Revolution of 1688. She is the subject of the first chapter of the book which describes her personality and gives an account of her earlier life, including that she had had five children who had all died before James Edward was born (and four years later, in exile, she would give birth to a daughter). The second chapter, about Princess Anne, shows more of infant mortality: of no fewer than seven siblings, only Anne and her elder sister Mary survived childhood. Anne herself would have seventeen pregnancies in as many years: five resulted in still-births, seven in miscarriages, four in children who died very soon after their birth, and only one lived to the age of eleven.
Just occasionally the book is heavy going, particularly when the author goes into excessive detail about how some of the lesser characters were related to each other; but for the most part it is an excellent read. The personalities of the principal actors come vividly alive, and there is a wealth of details about life at Court.