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Messages - bell_the_cat

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The Tudors / Re: King Stephen I
« on: February 21, 2007, 04:54:36 PM »
I've been reading a bit more about Stephen, because I kinda like the guy....

Although everyone (even the Pope) agreed that Stephen should become king on Henry I's death, the unanimity did not last long. When Matilda invaded England in 1141 , her supporters discovered a passage in the Bible (Numbers) that allowed women to inherit if a man had no sons!

So Stephen's people came up with another passage in numbers that says that women are allowed to inherit as long as they don't marry into another tribe (thus ruling out Matilda, who was unhappily marrie to Geoffrey of Anjou). Reminds me of Henry VIII, somehow.

Also Stephen was the founder of Buckfast Abbey in Devon, which produces a tonic wine very popular amongst the youth of Glasgow!

The Stuarts of Scotland / Re: why is Mary, Queen of Scots seen as tragic?
« on: February 17, 2007, 05:11:21 AM »
I was thinking about this in bed (!), and it seems to me that one Shakespeare character that Mary resembles is Gertrude, Hamlet's mother. She is a nice, intelligent woman who ends up marrying the murderer of her husband. The play is sort of like the Stuart family if Bothwell ( not Darnley's brother obviously!) had become King of Scotland  instead of James VI (Hamlet)!

Like in the play, it is quite likely that this situation would have ended with a heap of corpses...

The Stuarts of Scotland / Re: why is Mary, Queen of Scots seen as tragic?
« on: February 16, 2007, 03:05:46 PM »
I haven't read Zweig  :-[ but I know Macbeth very well. in fact I did it for "O - level". I can't think of a character more unlike Mary than Lady Macbeth (though I know Mary could be manipulative sometimes....)

The Stuarts of Scotland / Re: why is Mary, Queen of Scots seen as tragic?
« on: February 15, 2007, 04:01:48 PM »

Well, I suppose that what makes Mary a tragic figure -even Shakespeare acknoledged the fact when he used Mary as inspiration for his Lady Macbeth- his downfall, since he arrives to Scotland. Is she a heroine? I don't think so, but she seems to be some kind of femme fatale, that brings death to every single man who is close to her.

Hi Kurt!

I don't think Shakespeare was thinking of Mary when he created the character of Lady Macbeth - wherever did you read that?  :o For one thing the play is an elaborate compliment to the Stuart dynasty (the descendants of Banquo). It's more likely that Will was thinking of his own nagging wife, Anne Hathaway!

The Stuarts of Scotland / Re: why is Mary, Queen of Scots seen as tragic?
« on: February 04, 2007, 04:10:32 AM »
The Earl of Moray was Mary's half brother. When she returned from France he was very much part of her inner circle, and it was in defending his interests against the Catholic Earl of Huntly, that Mary got involved in the first crisis of her reign - one from which she emerged with a  lot of credit.

He disapproved of the Darnley match, after which he was estranged from his sister. He sided with the rebellious lords in 1567, and was regent for the young king, Mary's son (his nephew) until he was assassinated in 1570. This took place at Linlithgow, outside the palace where Mary was born!

The Windsors / Re: Queen Victoria's Family
« on: February 04, 2007, 03:45:46 AM »
Also, how much taller Ducky was than her elder sister Missy  :o!

The Stuarts of Scotland / Re: why is Mary, Queen of Scots seen as tragic?
« on: February 04, 2007, 03:32:52 AM »
Oh good one Bell. Hamartia- The fatal flaw, very Aristotolian ;)

I had to look up "Hamartia" on Wikipedia, but yes, that's exactly what I meant, Kim! From the wikipedia entry I've learnt that "catharsis" is the reason we feel sorry for Mary, we can believe the same thing might happen to us.....

Education's a wonderful thing, as my gran used to say.  :)

The Stuarts of Scotland / Re: why is Mary, Queen of Scots seen as tragic?
« on: February 03, 2007, 04:14:41 AM »
The Duke of Guise was murdered by order of Henri III after being invited to his chateau at Blois. Henri was certainly in the same building at the time, while colourful accounts have him in the same room! Henri made no effort to hide his involvement in the murder, even from his mother, who heard the noises of the murder as she lay dying upstairs.

You are certainly right that the Scottish succession (like the English one) was more open to dispute, but as far as murdered kings go, Scotland's record is not too bad, at least after 1100 AD. I can only think of James I, who was indeed murdered in a half-baked plot to claim the throne and James III, killed (it's not known exactly how) after the battle of Sauchieburn. That's much better than the English record, but not as good as the French one, admittedly.

So I don't think France would have been easier for Mary to rule (especially in the 1560s).

The Stuarts of Scotland / Re: why is Mary, Queen of Scots seen as tragic?
« on: February 02, 2007, 01:37:32 AM »
No, I don't think peoples decisions are solely a result of their fate or genetics..... but that's way to big a topic for now! :D I think Mary tried to rationally work out her options. Unfortunately she didn't think it through right to the end. At some point in the process she always said to herself - I haven't got time to think it right through, so I'm just going to go for it.

I agree that being parentless might have been an aspect in her unwise marriages, but she waited for almost five years after the death of Francis before marrying a second time. There were other candidates than Darnley. I think his position in the line of the English succession and his (girlish :P) good looks were the deciding factor in his favour.

There were much worse assassinations in France at the time. One that didn't succed, but was witnessed by Mary herself, was the conspiracy of Amboise (1560), aimed at Mary's uncles. The Conspiracy was discovered and the bodies of the conspirators were hung from the walls of the Chateau of Amboise. The Wars of Religion were full of incidents like this, ending in the murder of the  (another) Duke de Guise at the hands of Mary's brother in law Henri III (himself also assassinated shortly afterward!)

The Stuarts of Scotland / Re: why is Mary, Queen of Scots seen as tragic?
« on: February 01, 2007, 03:10:27 PM »

I agree on the bad decision making - it was really her Achilles heel.

I don't think it was a case of not understanding Scotland because of her years in France. I'd just llike to point out that Mary's Scotland was by no means a wild and woolly place (as it is portrayed in the Vanessa Redgrave). France on the other hand was by no means an idyll overflowing with milk and honey. Rather, it was riven by exactly the same issues (not just religion, but also social) that Scotland was. I think Mary had a good go at understanding both countries. She was highly intelligent and wanted to understand the issues - see her interviews with the reformer John Knox. Before she married Darnley she was a successful politician in Scotland, especially considering her youth.

Somehow at crucial turning points, she didn't have the coolness to sirt down and calculate the consequences of her decisions, with disastrous (for her) results.

The Stuarts of Scotland / Re: why is Mary, Queen of Scots seen as tragic?
« on: January 30, 2007, 05:59:01 PM »
I don't see her as a victim of fate.

She chose to marry Darnley, and she chose to marry Bothwell. Both marriages seemed like a gamble, but a gamble worth making. In any case she miscalculated. Later she chose to plot against Elizabeth, which she did very cleverly,always making sure she covered her back. In the end though, she ran out of patience and overplayed her hand....

So I think she was tragic, not a helpless bimbo. It was her own personality that sealed her fate - which is what I think happens to all of us ;)

The Stuarts of Scotland / Re: why is Mary, Queen of Scots seen as tragic?
« on: January 29, 2007, 03:47:25 PM »
This is a good question!

Tragic figures are the heroes and heroines of tragedies. It's not just a question of them having bad luck. The hero almost always has a fatal flaw in an otherwise admirable character that brings about their own downfall. The classic example is Hamlet whose downfall is caused by his own introspection and indecisiveness. A Fortinbras would not have bungled everything like Hamlet does!

So I think (as did Schiller), that Mary was indeed a tragic figure. What was the fata l flaw that brought her down? Some would say it was her stupidity or her weakness for dodgy men. I think it was really  akind of hubris, a tendency to overestimate the strength of her position and to under estimate the opposition at decisive moments.

The Stuarts of Scotland / Re: Best Looking Stuarts
« on: January 28, 2007, 06:16:00 PM »
Sometimes people with large birthmarks can be quite attractive! It doesn't seem to have been aproblem for James II. I don't know if it's fair to judge James I of Scotland. He didn't bother to comb his hair or shave for the only portrait we have of him - so who knows?

James and Mary of Gelderland's children: James III was quite runtish, admittedly, but his brothers Albany and Mar were considered very good looking - Mar was so good looking and athletic that James arranged for him to be drowned in his bath. :'(

I agree that MB was the most beautiful Stuart. Mary Queen of Scots was good looking, but possessed also an incredible charm, a sort of inner sparkle! I don't think MB had this sort of charisma but she was physically very beautiful, and had a kind of goodness that augmented her beauty.

Certainly most of the Stuarts were ugly by todays standards. James I, Charles I and William III I would call ugly. Charles II was "ugly handsome". James II was handsomish but, sorry folks, not very exciting. The Duke of Monmouth was very handsome in my opinion!

The Stuarts of Scotland / Re: queen anne and king george 1st
« on: January 24, 2007, 05:15:39 PM »
When Lady Mary Wortley Montagu returned from Constantinople in 1719, she was presented to Anne Marie who was then Queen of Sicily (shortly to be changed to Sardinia). The Queen made an obvious point of reminding Lady Mary of her English connections.......  :)

The Stuarts of Scotland / Re: Biography Recommendations?
« on: January 23, 2007, 05:24:14 PM »
As PL says the Princess of Orange was by all accounts a rather abrasive personality!

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