Crown of Thistles: The Fatal Inheritance of Mary Queen of Scots may be more of a comparative-historical study of Scotland's and England's monarchs laid out side-by-side, than a fully mapped out biography of Mary Stewart, opening with sensational conquests and the supplanting of two kings: on one hand, by the victorious creator of the Tudor dynasty, Henry VII and the other, a 15 year-old boy who became James IV after revolting against his father.
Unlike many popular historians who have portrayed the histories of Scotland and England singularly, Porter draws striking comparisons between the rival territories- the two opposing Kingdoms in interminable contention - as Scotland prepared a siege on England, while England herself faced rebellion within her own border to the south-west.
Porter diligently shows the intertwined existences of these countries and their monarchal adversaries : their political conflicts, reformation, and familial relationships as they occurred alongside each other, as one country struggled for domination over the other.
Porter observantly notes Margaret Tudor's plight in seeing both her sons taken away from her much like her uncles Edward V and his brother Richard were lost to her maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Woodville. Margaret Tudor and her granddaughter Mary Stewart also presented uncanny similarities in their disagreeable positions with government; their choices of loves and dubious, unwise marital decisions (Margaret to the scoundrel Earl Angus, Mary to the murderous Darnley); their removed relationships with their own offspring; both their forced flights from Scotland into the protection of England.
Finally, the author insightfully suggests that Mary Queen of Scots's imprisonment by her cousin Queen Elizabeth I might have reminded her of "the unhappy precedent of James I of Scotland who had been a prisoner in England for 18 years at the start of the 15th century."
From Henry Tudor's first inception of a magnificent alliance, through tumultuous periods of hatred, backstabbing and bloodshed, Porter livens the histories of these two border rivals to their eventual melding into one great nation under King James VI and I.