Today I am resenting another well thumbed book: Ungrateful Daughters – The Stuart Princesses Who Stole Their Father’s Crown by Maureen Waller.
Today it may appear almost inexplicable that it is not possible for a Roman Catholic to become our monarch but within decades of the Restoration it was an extremely hot topic. Today’s book clearly sets out the complex politics of monarchy at the time by focusing on the daughters of James, Duke of York, later to become James II.
The structure of the book is unusual, telling the story repeatedly from the perspective of the different individuals involved: Queen Mary Beatrice, Mary of Modena, the second wife of James II; Princess Anne of Denmark, later Queen Anne; Princess Mary of Orange, later joint monarch with her husband; King James II; and Prince William of Orange, later William III. Although a little repetitive in places, the different perspectives are easily understood.
The second part of the book focuses on the birth of James Francis Edward, Prince of Wales, and the ramifications of this. We are shown how the birth of a child was such a focus of unrest within the population at large. The final section describes the consequences.
Whilst it is difficult to be sympathetic towards any of the characters, by the end of the book it is possible to understand the general paranoia at the time and why Thomas Bowrey delayed his return home from the East Indies on news of James II accession to the throne.