Scourge of Henry VIII: The Life of Marie de Guise – by Melanie Clegg – book review

I acknowledge at the start that as a deep lover of history, I MUCH prefer reading historical fiction to biography. And this book reminded me why. Awarded two stars on Goodreads.

It’s a straight-forward, chronological piecing-together of people, events and facts — some directly-related and some tangentially related to Marie de Guise. Reading it mostly feels a lot like many not-very-interesting history lessons I remember from school decades ago.

I picked it up because I knew little about Marie, except that she gave birth to Mary Queen of Scots. And I DID learn more about her. More about her powerful family in France. About her first husband and son in France. About the children she lost. About her eagerness to become Regent of Scotland after the sudden death of her husband, James V. But was it interesting? Not very.

I wound up skimming sections. Especially because there was a lot of information included about LOTS of other people, other than Marie. For example, a detailed description of the Field of the Cloth of Gold meeting between Henry VIII of England and Francois I of France — in 1520. An important historical event? Arguable. But, regardless, having little to do with Marie de Guise.

I can’t say I recommend this, unless you’re desperate to know more about Marie de Guise. But then, you could probably learn just as much by reading her Wikipedia page.

One More Small Point: why this book title begins with “Scourge of Henry VIII” I have no idea. The fact that Henry at one time considered marrying Marie is a minuscule part of her story.

Melanie Clegg
Photo from Amazon.com

More about the author, Melanie Clegg who has written a bunch of historical biographies.