Sunday, January 14, 2018

Review: The Prince Who Would Be King by Sarah Fraser

35007705Author Sarah Fraser achieves her aim in bringing to the forefront the life and character of Prince Henry Frederick Stuart (d.1612).

Henry Stuart was literally, for some time, the "forgotten prince", overshadowed by his more well-known younger brother Charles I of England, who succeeded to the English throne due to the untimely death of Prince Henry, who was his elder brother.

Fraser uses what available research there is to give us a glimpse into the private and political life of a young prince who people believed would be key to the unification of the Scottish and English crowns, even more so than his father James VI & I.  What we discover is a child, torn from his mother's arms at birth (and later becoming one of her fiercest advocates); a young man who never really knew his younger siblings until much later in his young life; was fought over by warring political factions for their own gain; and was growing in political influence himself as he grew older - he was not an impotent political player as we would assume, have many forays into the political stage.  We gain a valuable insight into the politics at play, first at the Scottish then English royal courts; we witness the factionalism, both political and religious; we read of scandal, intrigue, political alliances, and courtly machinations.

This is well researched and easy to read.  I found myself comparing the life of this prince to that of Prince Arthur, son of Henry VIII - two promising lives cut tragically short, leaving us not knowing  what men these young princes may have become.

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