Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Great Scot

Update: The winner of Mia Marlowe's random drawing is Carrie! Please contact Mia through her website with your snailmail so she can mail out your prize. If you didn't win, don't despair. Mia has a contest at MiaMarlowe.com that will end June 26th. The prize for that contest is a Ready for the Beach Box of Books!

Our theme for the month is fascinating women. Since my Casablanca debut (Sins of the Highlander, January 2012) is set in 16th century Scotland, I've had great fun researching this setting and time period. In my digging, I've discovered some intriguing things about Mary, Queen of Scots.

I always knew she was Elizabeth I's cousin and that she met her end on the chopping block, but I didn't know much about her life. It was like a medieval soap opera, with ill-considered marriages at the heart of her downfall. Made me think Elizabeth was wise to remain the Virgin Queen.

When she was five years old, Mary Stuart was sent to France to avoid a forced marriage with Edward of England's son. This was known as "the Rough Wooing." Once in France, she became quite a pet of the monarchy. She was fluent in French, English, Latin, Greek, Spanish and Italian, in addition to her native Scots! And at the tender age of 14, she married the Dauphin, who was two years her junior.

By the time she was 17, she was the Queen of France. But her reign was short because her husband died of an ear infection. So in 1561, Mary Stuart decided to return to the only throne left to her. Without receiving safe passage from her English cousin Elizabeth, Mary sailed home to Scotland.

She was acclaimed "beautiful" with her fiery red hair and at 5'11" she was a veritable giantess for her day. But Scotland did not welcome her with open arms. While she was in France, the Reformation swept the Highlands and the people weren't in the mood to accept a Catholic monarch and one they feared had become thoroughly French.

She didn't help herself when she married her half first cousin, Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley in 1565. He was a grasping man who demanded the courtesy title of "King" and was jealous of her counselors and advisors. While she was pregnant with her only son, her husband burst into her chambers and murdered her private secretary, David Rizzio, before her eyes.

Needless to say, the marriage was strained. After her son James was born, Mary met with a number of her influential nobles, all of whom wanted the "problem of Darnley" removed by any means. Fearing for his life, Darnley fled to his father in Glasgow and became ill there (possibly from syphillis).

The next year, he returned to Mary in Edinburgh and rumors of reconciliation were on the wind when the house in which he was staying suffered an unexplained "explosion." Darnley's body was recovered in the garden and it was apparent he died from strangulation.

James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, was suspected of supplying the gun powder. Mary convened a trial before parliament and Bothwell was acquitted.

In 1567, Mary visited her son in Stirling and on her way home, she was "abducted" by Bothwell, who supposedly raped her and forced her to marry him. He had conveniently divorced his wife 12 days earlier. The Scottish nobles wouldn't have Bothwell as king and Mary was forced to abdicate her throne in favor of her one year old son James.

After her army was defeated, she fled to England, but instead of receiving help from her cousin, Elizabeth had her imprisoned. In 1587, she was tried and found guilty of the murder of Lord Darnley. She suffered a botched execution--the headsman had to strike twice--and once her head was removed, her little Skye terrier slipped out from under her skirt.

But her son James became King of both Scotland and England.

There's a snarky greeting card out there that admonishes us that "well-behaved women do not make history." Maybe not. But well-behaved or not, history was not kind to female rulers. No matter how fascinating they were. As always, women are held to a different standard than their male counterparts.

Does that irritate anyone besides me?


Mia's first collaborative novel with NY Times bestseller Connie Mason is Sins of the Highlander. “Mad Rob” MacLaren thought stealing his enemy’s bride-to-be was the perfect revenge. But he never reckoned that this beautiful, innocent lass would waken the part of him he thought dead and buried with his wife. Against all reason, Rob longs to introduce the luscious Elspeth Stewart to the pleasures of the flesh, to make her his and only his forever. Pre-order today!

For more about Mia's current release, Touch of a Thief and her backlist, please visit MiaMarlowe.com.
Leave a comment or question for Mia and you'll be entered to win a copy of Connie Mason's LORD OF DEVIL ISLE and Mia Marlowe's TOUCH OF A THIEF! Be sure to check back tomorrow to see if you're a winner!

48 comments:

  1. Hi Mia,
    So good to see you here. I enjoy reading about royalty and the woman rulers who were few in comparison to the men. The only word I can use for the way women were treated back then is ridiculous. Their being so narrow minded was unbelievable as well as their ignorance.I thank the good Lord I was not born in that time frame. I'd probably have been burned at the stake lol lol
    I enjoyed reading about Mary in your post as well.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750@aol.com

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  2. Thanks, Carol. I agree. People often ask me which time period I'd love to travel to if such things were possible. My answer is always none of them. I'm fascinated by history, but so grateful to be living now!

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  3. I so agree with you, Mia! I would not want to be living back in any other period of time. It's fun romanticizing about them, but.... :)

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  4. Terry, I hate to admit it, but in addition to enjoying the freedoms we enjoy as women now, I'm also addicted to modern conveniences. Indoor plumbing, modern medicine and room service are the hallmarks of civilization!

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  5. My first romance book ever was "The Concubine" and I read it through two times before I took it back to the library. Thank goodness I wasn't alive back in those days. They'd have chopped my head off and put it up on a stake and I betcha they wouldn't have fixed my hair either!

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  6. It just makes me sad, to read about a life that had to have been lonely and scary. I feel awful for Mary, who seems to have been exploited and dehumanized on every hand, and even bad for Elizabeth, who put off taking her cousins' life as long as politics would allow it. And MUCH of the upheaval and mayhem was related to theological differences. Spare me from such interesting times!

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  7. Hi Mia. I learned alot about Mary from your post. Life back then was definitely harsh. Can't wait to read your book.

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  8. How horrible. I love reading historicals, but darn, I'm sure glad I don't have to go through all my favorite characters had to.

    Poor Mary-- how did they botch the execution? It's not brain surgery!

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  9. Carolyn--Sadly women did not always enjoy the rights and freedoms we do. And there are still plenty of places in this world where they are still more likely to be illiterate and live in poverty than men.

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  10. Grace--Mary was definitely a pawn, but in some instances, she allowed herself to be used. She was the sort who loved "not wisely, but too well."

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  11. Thanks, Crystal. Part of what I love most about writing is that I get to play with history and find out all these fascinating little tidbits. Of course, lots of it never makes it into my books, but because I know it, I hope that background gives my words a certain spice!

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  12. Robin--I'm sad to have to tell you that the headsman missed the first time and struck the back of her skull instead of her neck. And in a final indignity, when her head was finally removed and lifted aloft, her red wig came off, exposing her gray hair.

    I was very moved by the fact that her little terrier accompanied her all the way to the block and wasn't discovered hiding under her skirts untill her body was removed for burial.

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  13. Hi Mia. I really enjoyed your post. What a history Mary had. It was so hideous that women were treated so poorly. I'm so thankful for this day and age, even with our problems.

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  14. Mia, I'm fascinated by Mary too. We went to Scotland a few years ago and before we left I read Margaret George's "Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles." It's a fictionalized biography and really made Mary come alive. Highly recommended!

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  15. Fascinating post! I have to say that it irritates me to no end too! Thank you for the informative post, looking forward to reading the book!

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  16. That was really fascinating. I know I studied a bit about it in school but of course they didn't tell the half of it . And yes it irritates me. We women still have a ways to go but not for lack of trying. I really enjoy reading about that time period and anything highlander!

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  17. Interesting post. I can't imagine what life was like for women in that time period. Mary was clearly talented in languages and it sounds like her time in France was probably the best time of her life. Sounds like Lord Darnley deserved what he got. I think Elizabeth probably was the wise one to stay single...lol

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  18. Hello Mia!
    Sins of the Highlander sounds lovely. I like that his quest for revenge leads him to a fall for his captive. I can't imagine how you go about writing a book with another author. I'm sure there was a lot of negotiating done prior to starting the book. Good luck with the new book!

    I've been to England several times but I've never been to Scotland. I've always wanted to go there. I enjoyed the history lesson!

    user1123 AT comcast DOT net

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  19. Oh, yes, it does irritate! Great post on Mary, QoS. What a tragic life.

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  20. What a great post! I am fascinated by that entire time in history. You're right. Women have never fared as well as their male counterparts. Sucks doesen't it?

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  21. Yes, yes and yes. It very much irritates me! It's so easy to say you would want to live back then, when in reality if you DID somehow get to go back in time you probably would find you wanted to come back. Still, though, I love that quote :-)

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  22. I wouldn't mind visiting the past for about a day or two but I wouldn't want to go back and live in it.

    iqb99@yahoo.com

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  23. I love historical romances as well, but realize that the way women were treated was terrible. Few people and men realized the validity of women's thoughts and logical intelligence. I would like to travel back in time to see what it would be like---for a day or so.
    Great post, Mia.

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  24. What I find fascinating with royal heroines is all the deceit, treachery, greed, and crime that surround her reign. And, no, I definitely wouldn't want to live in the past. I prefer the modern age with all the digital and virtual conveniences.

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  25. I have always been fascinated with history, and up there on the list is Scotland. There is so much history, not just with the monarchy (scary time to be a king or queen), but in the buildings as well.

    I really love stories that can take me there. Make me feel, smell, taste and indulge in the life and times of that era. All these novels sound great. Whatever happened to highlanders? We need more modern men like that.

    Thank you for a great post.

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  26. Fascinating piece of history. I love historical romance but I'm so glad we are not longer in that era. Must have been miserable being female then.

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  27. Being royalty in history was a dangerous occupation - always someone wanting your job over your dead body. To be a woman in charge you pretty much had to be the smartest one in the room by far. Interesting post!

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  28. Anita--There were so many other inequities in her life. For example, she lost custody of her son James fairly early in his life.

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  29. Joanne--I'm envious of your trip to Scotland. So far my journeys there have been in my mind.

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  30. Thanks, Carrie. While you're waiting for Sins of the HIghlander, I hope you'll try Connie's backlist and my Touch of a Thief!

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  31. Catslady--I know what you mean! There's just something about a guy in a kilt with a long ... claymore! (Honestly, what did you think I was going to say?!?)

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  32. Maria--Mary's fluency in so many languages speaks to her fine mind and the fact that she was groomed to be a Queen from her earliest moment. The fact that she wasn't able to rule was her downfall.

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  33. Stacie--Working with Connie was a golden opportunity for me. She's a brilliant storyteller.

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  34. Shana--Thanks for dropping by!

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  35. Sara--Scotland does set my creative juices flowing, no matter what time period.

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  36. Chelsea--I remember reading Michael Crichton's TIMELINE and thinking "He gets it." Life in the past was often brutish and short. We're so blessed to be living now.

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  37. Danielle-- I love visiting reenactments and admire the folks who take such pains to recreate history for us, but I can't see myself living that way for even a weekend.

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  38. Deb--The best way to time travel is with a well-researched book. That way, I still get to sleep in my own non-bedbug infested bed. I have to give Diana Gabalson high marks for including the wee beasties in her OUTLANDER series. She kept it real.

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  39. Vonnie--Any time you get near a person of power, there are plenty of people with their own agenda and a plan for how to use that powerful person to their own ends. Politics is the language of the devil and you can't miss the whiff of sulfur swirling in any royal court.

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  40. Na--Oh, yes! I'm fascinated by architecture because it's so informative about how people lived. I just finished reading PILLARS OF THE EARTH. The building of a cathedral is central to the plot and the way such a monumental project impacted so many lives.

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  41. Linda--Even though Mary's life was full of upheaval, wellborn women in any age had an easier time of it than their poorer counterparts.

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  42. Amanda--So true. And youth was no protection. In 1483, Edward V of England, only 13 years old and his brother, Richard of Shrewsbury, 1st Duke of York, a mere 10, disappeared into the Tower of London and were never seen again. Two child-sized skeletons were discovered in the 17th century, but no exact identificaion could be made.

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  43. Oh, I think those facts probably irritate a lot of people. I guess the reason women are held to a different standard is because it would be tough for a woman to kidnap a man, rape him, and force him to marry her.
    Not impossible, though.
    Might make for a good book....

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  44. Such a tragic story. In all of that, I can't let go of the fact he died of an ear infection. OMW - makes one appreciate modern medicine.

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  45. This is so fascinating. I love the details of her husband dying of an ear infection. Thanks for the great read, Mia!

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  46. Leah--The humanity is in the details of history. Thanks for dropping by!

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  47. A little late, but had to tell you how much I enjoyed your post, Mia! Good stuff!

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  48. I fell in love with the Tudors when they were on and so I went through a phase where I had to read everything about that time period. I love the info on Mary. Some of the stuff I knew and some I did not. Thanks for the info. would love to win, so thanks for the chance.
    christinebails@yahoo.com

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