Ballad of the Five Marys

Ballad of the Five Marys


Donald Smith

ISBN: 9781910021149

Binding: paperback

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Yestreen the Queen had Four Marys
Tonight she’ll hae but three
There was Mary Seton, and Mary Beaton
And Mary Carmichael and me.

from ‘Mary Hamilton’, The Child Ballads

The Mary Carmichael of the well-known ballad may be a fiction but Marys Seton, Beaton, Livingston and Fleming, together with Mary Stewart, comprised the real five Marys – assertive young women unafraid to question their place in society.

Who was Mary Queen of Scots? Vilified as an adulteress, only to be immortalised as a martyr, where does history become legend?

Why was Mary deposed? Who killed Darnley? Five hundred years after the Battle of Flodden and the birth of John Knox, this new take on Mary’s life explores not only the historical events which led to her demise, but the relationships and emotions of an increasingly isolated young woman faced with political and religious upheaval and her country’s gradual loss of independence.

Our Sovereign Lady who now Reigns at this Hour, The Mighty Lord be ever her Protector And Make Her Marriage as He thinks Best, That Her Liege may Reign in Peace and RestTHE FORMAN ARMORIAL, C.1562


There’s an old publishing belief that books about Mary Queen of Scots always sell. Smith’s certainly deserves to do so. He finds his way through the maze of 16th century Scottish politics dexterously and persuasively.  Allan Massie, The Scotsman