The Dog Who Loved a Queen

To outsiders, Mary is a queen and a threat, but to her devoted dog Folly, she is his world to the world outside her luxurious prison, Mary Queen of Scots is either a shameless beauty who killed her husband, or the rightful queen of England and Scotland, tragically held captive by Elizabeth the First. But to the dog who loved her, Mary is simply his mistress, and the centre of his life. While Mary desperately plots to seize both her freedom and the throne, her dog Folly's world is one of chasing mice behind the tapestries and enjoying turkey legs with quinces for supper. Until the day comes when they try to take his Queen away ...

Based on the true story of the dog who was with Mary when she died, the Dog Who Loved a Queen is a fascinating tale of religious bigotry, plots and passion - and the unquestioning loyalty of a small Scottish terrier.

More notes on the book

I have always been fascinated by Mary Queen of Scots and the mysteries surrounding her. The books I read when I was a teenager portrayed her either as a heartless schemer, or else as an innocent betrayed by evil men.

As I grew older I began to read the accounts of Mary's life and death from the people who were actually there, like her physician Master Bourgoine. A new picture of Mary emerged- a spirited girl, an intelligent woman and a tolerant queen in a time when small differences in religious faith in other countries led to persecution and even torture and death.

But Mary was surrounded by ambitious men, at a time when women weren't supposed to rule. And she was beautiful- so beautiful, so favoured that she never learnt to cope with hatred and treachery- until, perhaps, it was too late.

 

Sources

The details of Mary's life in prison come mostly from those who were there at the time, like Mary's physician, Master Bourgoine, as well as Mary's own letters, both the ones smuggled out of her prison and captured by Queen Elizabeth the First's spies, and the ones to her relatives in France ordering luxuries, pet birds and dogs, and sometimes giving details of her life with her pets as well. My major problem was that - as with so many areas of history- a lot of myths have grown up about Mary that people now take as fact.

Many web sites will tell you that Mary's dog was a Skye terrier, for example- but the breed didn't exist in Mary's day.

Others will give you the dog's name- but that was made up by a novelist, years ago, and isn't fact either. I haven't been able to find any reference in any account of the time that gives the dog a name.

Many stories about Mary make her a romantic figure who mourned Bothwell all her life. But soon after she arrived in England she tried to marry the Duke of Norfolk, and wrote him many loving letters. The stories make her an innocent prisoner, too, but her own letters make it clear she believed she was rightfully Queen of England, and that it was her duty to do anything- including plot to kill Queen Elizabeth- to gain the throne.

Many people think that in Mary's day dogs prowled around the banqueting tables, too, while the diners threw them scraps and bones. But in Mary's day it was VERY bad manners to have a dog in the room while you ate- unless, perhaps, you were a queen.

The Dog Who Loved a Queen can be read as a historical fantasy, a world of queens and plots and dogs and danger to escape into. But it can also be used to introduce readers to the historical realities of those days, from what people wore and ate to the way they thought.

The Dog Who Loved a Queen also tackles issues of intolerance and religious terrorism. But it looks at them from a perspective of 500 years away- a safer, less contentious way for young readers to think about the issues without the prejudice of modern political beliefs clouding the issues.

Does the end justify the means? How far SHOULD you go for a cause you believe in?

Were Mary's followers what we now think of as terrorists when they plotted to kill Queen Elizabeth by putting poison on her saddle?

Do causes like Mary's change as time goes by? Few people these days believe that a Queen is ordained by God and that it's blasphemy not to obey them. Will any of our modern beliefs be abandoned in a hundred or five hundred years time?

Mary's servants, as well as her dog, were loyal all her life, staying with her through the long years of her imprisonment. Would you do that for a friend? Has the idea of loyalty changed in 500 years?

Mary Queen of Scots - Murderess or rightful Queen?

One fearless Scottish terrier didn't care. Mary was simply his mistress - the true story of Mary's most loyal companion.

Based on the true story of the dog who was with Mary when she died, The Dog Who Loved a Queen is a fascinating tale of religious bigotry, plots and passion. Traditional history books can't compete with the vibrancy of French's historically based fiction, calling to mind the tastes, sights and sounds of a world long left behind. Who couldn't enjoy a dog's take on the life and times of Mary Queen of Scots?!

© Jackie French