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Imprisoning Mary Queen of Scots (Hardback)

The Men Who Kept the Stuart Queen

P&S History > British History > Tudors & Stuarts P&S History > By Century > 16th Century P&S History > Royal History World History > UK & Ireland > Scotland

By Mickey Mayhew
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 224
Illustrations: 40 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781399010993
Published: 30th August 2022

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Imprisoning Mary Queen of Scots covers the lives and careers of the men and women who ‘kept’ Mary Queen of Scots when she was a political prisoner in England, circa 1568/9-1587. Mary’s troubled claim to the English throne - much to the consternation of her ‘dear cousin’ Elizabeth I - made her a mortal enemy of the aforementioned Virgin Queen and set them on a collision course from which only one would walk away. Mary’s calamitous personal life, encompassing assassinations, kidnaps and abdications, sent her careering into England and right into the lap of Henry VIII’s shrewd but insecure daughter. Having no choice but keep Mary under lock and key, Elizabeth trusted this onerous task to some of the most capable - not to mention the richest - men and women in England; Sir Francis Knollys, Rafe Sadler (of Wolf Hall fame), the Earl of Shrewsbury and his wife, Bess of Hardwick, and finally, the puritanical nit-picker Sir Amyas Paulet. Until now, these nobles have been mere bit-players in Mary’s story; now, their own lives, loves and fortunes are laid bare for all to see.

From Carlisle Castle to Fotheringay, these men and women all but bankrupted themselves in keeping the deposed Scots queen in the style to which she was accustomed, whilst fending off countless escape plots of which Mary herself was often the author. With the sort of twist that history excels at, it was in fact a honeytrap escape plot set up by Elizabeth’s ministers that finally saw Mary brought to the executioner’s block, but what of the lives of the gaolers who had until then acted as her guardian? This book explains how Shrewsbury and Bess saw their marriage wrecked by Mary’s legendary charms, and how Sir Amyas Paulet ended up making a guest appearance on ‘Most Haunted’, some several hundred years after his death. In that theme, the book also covers the appearances of these men and women on film and TV, in novels and also the various other Mary-related media that help keep simmering the legend of this most misunderstood of monarchs.

For anyone interested in an alternative view of the imprisonment of Mary Queen of Scots, then I would highly recommend reading this book as Mayhew’s writing is easy to read.

Read the Full Review Here

Instagram - tudorage_1973

"It was the second Mickey Mayhew book I’ve read. And I enjoyed reading it."

A Tudor Reader

Funny thing about British genealogy: if you’re among the ordinary people – even if you’re from Britain – it can be tough getting back much further than 1800. You can, however, be from the USA and be able to trace your ancestors back another couple of centuries. I say this because that’s how I came to this book. A couple of years ago, while working on our family history, I discovered my American husband is descended from Sir Amyas Paulet. The last of Mary Queen of Scots jailers is my 12th great-grandfather-in-law.

I’m not sure what I expected from Imprisoning Mary Queen of Scots. Perhaps I thought I’d get individual portraits of the gentlemen (and women). Separate sections on each maybe, starting with their lives before the Scottish queen entered them and then continuing after her death until they too succumbed to that great equalizer. Instead, this is a book focusing on Mary’s life and how they impacted it. This is very much a chronological look at her imprisonment, with various people coming and going from it. A dramatis personae would’ve been useful to have as a guide at the start. The overall impression is that being one of the queen’s jailers was to receive a poisoned chalice: it was an honor that came at great personal cost. The Earl of Shrewsbury held the position far longer than any others and so he receives the most coverage in this book. Previously, I’d thought his wife, known as Bess of Hardwick, as a hard woman. The narrative here has made me rethink.

Mayhew’s writing is easy to read. He’s casual, understandable, and uses modern day cultural comparisons to help the reader comprehend. And, while he uses several quotes from the players involved as well as more modern researchers and historians, he’s also not afraid of sharing his own opinions. These include his thoughts on certain conspiracy theories about the queen, and on her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I – he doesn’t appear to be a fan.

As for my husband’s ancestor, Sir Amyas, Mayhew doesn’t seem to be a fan of his either. Paulet is introduced as a bigot, and it doesn’t get any better. Later, he’s described as being “almost comically belligerent,” but apparently, he wasn’t “a total tyrant.” When Mayhew describes the supposed interaction between him and psychic Derek Acora in the Most Haunted episode, the author disagrees with Acora’s description of Paulet; not “a good kindred soul.” Mayhew reminds his readers that Paulet declined to be part of a plan to murder Mary prior to her execution. My husband likes to repeat his great-grandfather’s refusal to “make so great a shipwreck of my conscience.” So maybe he wasn’t such a bad guy after all.

NetGalley, Sally McCombs

An excellent book looking at the various imprisonment of Mary Queen of Scots who needed to be kept safe/imprisoned securely in order to be able to execute her....A book, very well worth a read.

Read the Full Review Here

The History Fella

A wonderful slice of British middle ages history as Mickey Mayhew examines the imprisonment of Mary Queen of Scots from 1568-1587.

Books Monthly

Mickey Mayhew’s book offers a lot to research on Mary Queen of Scots and her period of captivity in England, where focus is usually on her marriages, the Casket letters, the disasters of her queenship, and her execution. The focus of her captivity is usually the rebellions against Elizabeth I, but this book examines it in a more domestic light, which I’ve never seen before. It’s fascinating.

Read the full review here

Tudor Blogger

"Altogether a very readable, informative and entertaining book."

Norfolk Family History Society - 'The Ancestor' magazine

Article: Lid lifted on 20 years spent in captivity in England

The National (Glasgow)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Having recently read Mayhew's House of Tudor: A Grisly History, I was looking forward to reading more of Mayhew's work.

Most know the story of Mary Queen of Scots, that she was imprisoned until her eventual execution, but what about those entrusted to keep her secure and away from the many plots to free her?

Mayhew gives a detailed insight into the men chosen for this task, their personalities and their lives. Keeping Mary secure can't have been an easy task and as Mayhew explains the impact keeping Mary secure on her jailers including the financial implications which they paid from their own funds in the hopes they would be reimbursed.

Readers are given fascinating details of the castles and manors where Mary was held along with her trips to Buxton waters.
Reading the stories of these men and their families really made me understand how difficult their task was and how little recognition they received for not only maintaining Mary and her household but also fending off plots whilst trying to continue with their own lives and occupations.
Being chosen for this task really was a double edged sword, it showed Elizabeth I had faith in them and trusted them implicitly but it cost them a fortune and sometimes more than just money.

Mayhew goes on to give an overview of how each jailer has been portrayed on TV as well as what happened to them following the death of Mary.

For me, George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury was the most intriguing as we learn how his marriage to the infamous Bess of Hardwick was affected by holding Mary prisoner. Whilst not the sole cause, it certainly formed part of the destruction of their marriage and the fall out that followed.

For anyone interested in an alternative view of Mary Queen of Scots I would highly recommend this and I'm looking forward to reading more of Mayhew's work in the future.

NetGalley, Amy McElroy

This book was so well researched!!!
I had no idea that so many people were there with Mary Queen of Scots while she was imprisoned.

This was so fascinating to join and learn all about those historical figures throughout Scotland and England proper.

So well done.

NetGalley, Jessica Berg

For Elizabeth, Mary was now no longer her ‘dear cousin’ but was instead a ‘wicked murderess’, one who would soon feel the full weight of Elizabethan justice bearing down upon her.

I really enjoyed learning more on Mary Queen Of Scots and her imprisonment.

The perfect read for historical lovers.

NetGalley, georgi_lvs_books .

Imprisoning Mary Queen of Scots by Mickey Mayhew is an informative and detailed book which is principally focused on those who were given the unenviable task of acting as Mary’s goalers.

Being forced to spend almost half her life as a prisoner Mary had been in the custody of a variety of keepers whose lives were directly affected, often negatively, by her detention. It was interesting to read of the personal and financial costs incurred by her custodians and the fascinating tour of the locations of her imprisonment with many evocative household descriptions.

Having a particular interest in Ralph Sadler I was pleased to read the background details of his life, the irony of his encounters with Mary, first as a baby and later as her goaler. The descriptions of the conditions under which Mary was housed while under Ralph’s charge at Tutbury Castle were repugnant.
I enjoyed Mayhew’s book and found it an engaging and thoroughly researched read which covers a lot of ground in examining the political machinations and drama of the Tudor court and of the conflict between Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I.

I would recommend it to others.

NetGalley, Josie Smith

Mary Queen of Scots has been an enigma in history. As a monarch was sentenced to death by another monarch, the relationship between the two women has long been debated and studied.

This book was fascinating in the many details shared and the depth in which this knowledge was laid out. From the start to the end, this book kept me engaged and interested. I felt sorry for the men who were tasked in keeping her, the financial burdens, and the sometimes pull of not sure who to trust.

For those interested in Elizabeth and Mary's relationship, the factors that led to Mary's death, those who kept her imprisoned, and the tidbits in between, this is the perfect book for you!

NetGalley, Rebecca Hill

This was a fascinating look at a subject that isn't really talked about a lot. We all know how Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned in England after fleeing her own country, but it really isn't talked about who or how she was jailed. I really felt bad for everyone involved, the men and women sacrificing their own lives because they could not say no to Queen Elizabeth! Mayhew does a good job chronicaling Mary's time in confinement, her desperation, "friendships", and the feelings and acts that the aristocrats put in charge of confining her had to go through. Poor Bess of Hardwick and her husband, this whole "job" became a life work and utterly thankless!
This was a good book to read if you are like me and fascinated with the Tudor time and don't know much beyond the Tudor kings and queens. I'd recommend reading, or having this on audiobook!

NetGalley, Vanessa Stoner

As featured in

The Bookseller

I think Mayhew did an excellent job making the topic of Mary Queen of Scots’ jailers exciting for his audience. It was a well-researched book that allows you to view Mary’s imprisonment and jailers differently. If you want to learn more about Mary Queen of Scots and her jailers, I recommend reading “Imprisoning Mary Queen of Scots: The Men Who Kept the Stuart Queen” by Mickey Mayhew.

Read the full review here

Adventures of a Tudor Nerd

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Mary, Queen of Scots has fascinated people from the days of her youth. That fascination only increased over the last 400+ years. I have read many books on her life, including a previous one by this author. I can say with confidence that this book is a worthy addition to the vast library about her life. Mayhew focuses solely on the various people that served as jailers of Mary, giving in depth details about their everyday circumstances 'guarding' Mary. He also discusses the political climate of the time, particularly the various plots that were hatched to free Mary. We all know how those turned out, but reading about the machinations of her life and those responsible for 'guarding' her never gets old. Definitely a worthwhile read, especially if you're a history buff like me.

NetGalley, Mariama Thorlu-Bangura

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

It was written very very neatly and objectively, also he discussed and deal all the things very professionally and undauntedly. I think it’s not going to be the last Mickey Mayhew book for me, I will read all of his books which he wrote.

NetGalley, Ece Karadag

Highly insightful. Really fascinating. As a big fan of Tudor history I really enjoyed reading this book.

NetGalley, Stephanie Humphreys

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book is a comprehensive study of Queen Mary of Scotland’s life and death. It begins at her birth with the death of her father only days later. When her life became threatened by the religious situation in Scotland, her mother, Mary of Guise, sent her to France for her safety. At that time, France was an ally of Scotland.

While in France, she was married to the Dauphin. He was sickly and died soon after taking the throne. Her husband’s mother was a controlling woman and left no doubt that Mary was no longer welcome. While she was a surviving Queen, she had no influence or power.

Mary headed back to Scotland, which was by now a very Protestant country. She was held in suspicion since she was a Catholic. Mary, as Queen, was ahead of her time in declaring that she would not interfere with Protestantism as long as she could worship her own faith.

Mary went on to make some very bad decisions as far as men were concerned. Unfaithful husbands, their betrayals, even murderous behavior was the norm for these men. (I had to shake my head and wonder how she concluded that she was in “love” with these rascals.)

When she fled Scotland for England, she was imprisoned for nineteen years. Mary firmly believed that she had a right to the British throne, more so than Elizabeth I. Thus she was a threat to Elizabeth’s reign. She wasn’t, however, thrown into the Tower of London, she was held by various noble families. This was a great burden on the families and often impoverished them. She was a demanding prisoner who expected to be kept in the style to which she was accustomed.

She was implicated in several plots against the English crown.

This book is well written and very interesting. I especially liked the parts about the families with which Mary stayed. I did not know this and was fascinated by their tales.

The book also contains a lengthy bibliography for those who would like to further explore Mary’s life.

NetGalley, Joyce Fox

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book mainly covers Mary’s imprisonment in England and her troubled relationship with her cousin Queen Elizabeth. Have no fear though it covers much much more with great pictures, and index on the novels movies in place about queen Mary the actors that played the queen and her supporters and the tractors. It is all together A great reference and not just a very entertaining read. I think Mickey Mayhew went above and beyond in writing this book. I have read many books about queen Mary’s imprisonment And I can honestly say none were as detailed when it comes to the people she spoke to day today in those who talked about her behind her back. This is a great book and I highly recommend it. If you love royal history like I do you’ll love this book. I learned so much I didn’t know already and I have read a lot on queen Mary.

NetGalley, Janalyn Prude

I have read the author's "The Little Book of Mary Queen of Scots" before and thoroughly enjoyed the accessibility, simplicity and organisation of it. This book was to prove no less of a disappointment.

The men who were placed in charge of Queen Mary are often sidelined in books due to the magnetic charm that Mary brings, however Mayhew successfully manages to pull these men (and woman) to the forefront in a refreshing angle on a well-known piece of history.

Along with breathing life into the stories of these individuals, I found the background on the residences that Mary was kept in was fascinating and added to the flow of information.

This is an incredibly readable book and one that I think will be essential for all those interested in the Stuart or Tudor Era.

NetGalley, Kirsty Whyte

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Another great nonfiction book by Pen&Sword! It’s great to learn more about the people and personalities surrounding Mary Stuart during her captivities. So many books care more about Mary and the people around her tend to become background or villains.

NetGalley, Caroline Palmer

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Imprisoning Mary Queen of Scots: The Men Who Kept the Stuart Queen by Mickey Mayhew is an excellent nonfiction/history that delves into the fascinating and intricate lives of the many that took on the task of keeping watch over the infamous Mary Queen of Scots during her many years of imprisonment in England.

This is such an amazing book that tells the background, history, and story of each of the individuals that housed Mary, their families, and even a little about the residences themselves. The author does an amazing job fitting it all in within Mary’s life and timeframe, and the reader even gets a better understanding and glimpse into her life as well.

Well-researched, paced moderately, and felt effortless and more like fiction than nonfiction.

Excellent.
5/5 stars

NetGalley, Rachel Fox

For Elizabeth, Mary was now no longer her ‘dear cousin’ but was instead a ‘wicked murderess’, one who would soon feel the full weight of Elizabethan justice bearing down upon her.

I really enjoyed learning more on Mary Queen Of Scots and her imprisonment.

The perfect read for historical lovers.

Georgi Lvs Books !!

About Mickey Mayhew

Lifelong Londoner Mickey Mayhew has a PhD concerning the online cult surrounding the tragic queens Anne Boleyn and Mary Queen of Scots. He is co-author of three books relating to Jack the Ripper, published by The History Press. His first non-fiction work, The Little Book of Mary Queen of Scots, was also published by The History Press in January 2015; I Love the Tudors, by Pitkin Publishing, arrived in 2016. He has a semi-regular column in the journal of The Whitechapel Society and was previously a freelance film and theatre reviewer for various London lifestyle magazines. Through 2018/2020 he worked as an assistant researcher on several research projects for London South Bank University. Rasputin and his Russian Queen is his third book for Pen and Sword, following the release of House of Tudor and Imprisoning Mary Queen of Scots.

Born on this day - Mary, Queen of Scots

8th December 1542

Queen regnant of Scotland from 14 December 1542 to 24 July 1567 Princess Mary ascended to the throne on the death of her father, King James V, despite being only 6 days old.


Princess Mary Stuart succeeds her father James V and becomes Queen Mary I of Scotland

14th December 1542

Princess Mary Stuart succeeds her father James V and becomes Queen Mary I of Scotland at 6 days old


Mary Queen of Scots is forced to abdicate

24th July 1567

Mary Queen of Scots is forced to abdicate; her 1-year-old son becomes King James VI of Scots


View all events View all anniversaries

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