The Lost Tudor Princess: The Life of Lady Margaret Douglas by Alison Weir: A Book Review

The Lost Tudor Princess: The Life of Lady Margaret Douglas
Author: Alison Weir
Genre: Nonfiction, History, Biography
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: January 12, 2016
Pages: 576
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: From New York Times bestselling author and acclaimed historian Alison Weir comes the first biography of Margaret Douglas, the beautiful, cunning niece of Henry VIII of England who used her sharp intelligence and covert power to influence the succession after the death of Elizabeth I.

     Royal Tudor blood ran in her veins. Her mother was a queen, her father an earl, and she herself was the granddaughter, niece, cousin, and grandmother of monarchs. Lady Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox, was an important figure in Tudor England, yet today, while her contemporaries—Anne Boleyn, Mary, Queen of Scots, Elizabeth I—have achieved celebrity status, she is largely forgotten. 

     Margaret’s life was steeped in intrigue, drama, and tragedy—from her auspicious birth in 1530 to her parents’ bitter divorce, from her ill-fated love affairs to her appointment as lady-in-waiting for four of Henry’s six wives. In an age when women were expected to stay out of the political arena, alluring and tempestuous Margaret helped orchestrate one of the most notorious marriages of the sixteenth century: that of her son Lord Darnley to Mary, Queen of Scots. Margaret defiantly warred with two queens—Mary, and Elizabeth of England—and was instrumental in securing the Stuart ascension to the throne of England for her grandson, James VI.

     The life of Margaret Douglas spans five reigns and provides many missing links between the Tudor and Stuart dynasties. Drawing on decades of research and myriad original sources—including many of Margaret’s surviving letters—Alison Weir brings this captivating character out of the shadows and presents a strong, capable woman who operated effectively and fearlessly at the very highest levels of power.

      My Review: Margaret Douglas, the Countess of Lennox, was the daughter of Queen Margaret Tudor and the Earl of Lennox. She is the granddaughter of Henry VII, the niece of Henry VIII, cousin of Mary I and Elizabeth I. She was also the mother-in-law of Mary, Queen of Scots, and the grandmother of James I. At one point, she was the heiress to the English throne.

     Despite Margaret’s colorful and prestigious history, she is often overlooked by the more famous historical figures in the Tudor family. Indeed, I really did not know anything about her, except that she was the mother of Lord Darnley, the husband of Mary, the Queen of Scots. However, Alison Weir’s biography attempts to bring this forgotten woman to light. This was a surprising read. Not only did she lead a dramatic life, but she was a primary witness for the scandal and drama of the Tudor court.

     As King Henry VIII’s niece, Margaret served as a lady-in-waiting to four of his wives. She ended up incurring her uncle’s wrath twice by having romances with two men related to two of her uncle’s wives, Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard. One angered her uncle so much that he imprisoned her in the Tower. She eventually married the Earl of Lennox. Her son, Lord Darnley, married Mary, Queen of Scots.

     Overall, this biography shows us that Margaret Douglas was an important figure in Tudor history. Her story is full of tragedy, but she has accomplished much. It is through her hard efforts that put James I on the English throne. While the biography can be dry at times and written like a textbook, it tells a story of court intrigue, murder, treachery, and danger that will keep the reader interested. Margaret Douglas’s story needs to be told so that she will no longer be forgotten, but to give her the recognition she deserves.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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