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Carpe Librum

Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.


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The First Queen of England by Linda Porter

The First Queen of England: The Myth of "Bloody Mary" - Linda Porter

I was pleasantly surprised by how interesting this book turned out to be. In my quest to research Margaret Pole, I was directed to this book. Of course, the focus is on Mary, but as her governess through some of the most difficult times of her life, Margaret features heavily through the first quarter of this book.


The level of detail included in Porter's narrative is comprehensive without becoming overwhelming or boring. Even after I reached the point in Mary's life after Margaret's death I continued reading and was happy to learn more about this unpopular queen.


I had always felt that Elizabeth's greatest strength was PR. How else could this cruel, manipulative ruler end up with a reputation that is so much more positive than her father and sister? Porter's research supports this idea and explains that Mary was not truly as "bloody" as the myth suggests. In fact, she was far less violent than her father.


Reading about Mary's life makes it easy to understand some of the decisions that she made, some of which led to disastrous consequences. Porter provides information without injecting motive. She offers suggestions regarding why Mary may have chosen to do (or not do) things, but does not state with certainty, as some nonfiction writers do, why Mary made those choices.


Easy reading for nonfiction and great insight into the life of this much maligned queen.