The Challenge to the Crown
Available in Hardback or Amazon Kindle

“This book, and its sequel, can rightly claim to be among the definitive accounts of the most written about and turbulant periods of Scottish history.”

– The Stewart Society, Edinburgh

The Challenge to the Crown

May Queen of Scots – Volume I:
The Struggle for Influence in the Reign of Mary Queen of Scots 1542-1567

Mary Queen of Scots: Catholic martyr or manipulative femme fatale?

On 10 February 1567, conspirators bent on killing Henry, Lord Darnley, King-Consort of Mary Queen of Scots successfully razed his Edinburgh residence at Kirk o’ Field in a huge explosion. Soon afterwards, Darnley’s partially-clothed body was discovered in a nearby orchard, strangled to death by an unknown assailant.

Rumours of Mary’s involvement in his murder quickly surfaced. Placards across Edinburgh implied that she had provoked the Earl of Bothwell into killing her husband in a crime of passion. This became more plausible when she tried to avoid having to prosecute him for the murder, and subsequently married him, encouraged by her most senior Protestant nobles.

While Mary’s motives for the marriage might be explained by her need for his protection, those of the nobility who had encouraged it are confusing. Why would they want a union, which would inevitably place Bothwell, a man they hated, as head of government? Was their motive to associate her in the murder plot?

Mary’s involvement in Darnley’s murder has remained one of the great historical mysteries. Genealogist and historian, Robert Stedall has spent ten years researching the inter-marriages within the Scottish peerage to provide an explanation for their motives in removing Mary from the throne. In this first volume, of his two volume history of Mary and James, he explains in vivid detail the switching allegiances of the nobility, and can reveal for the first time, the gripping true story of Mary’s downfall and imprisonment.

The second volume “The Survival of the Crown” deals with Mary’s imprisonment and execution in England, and James’s reign in Scotland, until he also became King of England in 1603. It was published by the Book Guild on 27 February 2014.

Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: Book Guild Ltd
Publish Date: 26 July 2012
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1846246466
ISBN-13: 978-1846246463

Buy from our Website

Buying direct is only available in the UK


What people are saying

"Robert Stedall claims to be an amateur historian but his attention to detail and use of original sources is astonishing. ... He gives [the story] a new twist and fresh resonance. "

"Mary herself appears in all her frail naivety as a mere pawn in the high stakes of European politics. She always picked the wrong man, but she never lacked for bravery, style and loyalty. For this she unquestionably deserves her very special place in Scotland's history."

– The Stewart Society, Edinburgh

"A valuable addition to the extensive bibliography on one of the most intriguing characters in the history of the British Isles... Pertinent, succinct, elegantly expressed and riveting. "

– Ian McGaw,

"...paints new portraits of Mary and Elizabeth – as two naive women who were manipulated by the same man."

– Jim McBeth, The Daily Mail

“This book, and its sequel, can rightly claim to be among the definitive accounts of the most written about and turbulent periods of Scottish history. “

– The Stewart Society, Edinburgh