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Hardcover Elizabeth I Book

ISBN: 0394544358

ISBN13: 9780394544359

Elizabeth I

(Part of the Medieval Women Boxset Series)

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Format: Hardcover

Condition: Good*

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Book Overview

Glitteringly detailed and engagingly written, the magisterialElizabeth Ibrings to vivid life the golden age of sixteenth-century England and the uniquely fascinating monarch who presided over it. A woman of intellect and presence, Elizabeth was the object of extravagant adoration by her contemporaries. She firmly believed in the divine providence of her sovereignty and exercised supreme authority over the intrigue-laden Tudor court and Elizabethan...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Comprehensive and Interesting

I had never read a historical biography before, and I had no idea a book like this could be such a page turner. I could hardly put it down! Somerset does a superb job placing this brilliant monarch in the context of her time period. She goes into detail about court intrigues, political strife, and personal relationships. I found the book much more exciting and dramatic than the movie. after reading this book, I felt that I understood not just Elizabeth better, but the whole Elizabethan era. To top things off, Somerset's style is easy to read. The book is well researched and objective; never over romanticizing or over criticizing. Plus, it's a thick book so you get more for your money. I would have liked to hear more about the Queen's supposed virginity (Somerset goes with the Virgin Queen angle) but I'd still pick this book over Allison Weir any day.

a clear-eyed personal and political bio

This is an insightful and fascinating look into the age of Elizabeth I: not only does the author explore her complex private life, but her techniques of holding and exercising power and diplomacy - always mixed together - are examined with a depth that never romanticises this remarkable leader. The story begins with a frightening look into the battle for succession. Her half-sister, Bloody Mary, at the moment is attempting to re-convert the country with ruthless brutality to the Catholicism of her mother, whom Henry VIII divorced to marry Anne Boleyn, E I's mother. Thus, E I faced not only the normal suspicion of treasonous intent between bitter blood rivals with a personal twist, but also was open in her protestantism during the bloodiest epoch of the Reformation. While E I survived and was crowned as queen, the legitimacy of her claim was always under threat - her difficult though charismatic Catholic cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, served as a living reminder of how easily E I might be replaced on the throne. E I survives, of course, and more or less triumphs over all her adversaries, but she was never bloodthirsty. Behind this basic plot, Somerset masterfully dissects the machinery of government of the time. As an absolute sovereign, E I had the last word, but she relied on a series of deeply trusted advisors as well as a network of courtiers, with whom she forged extremely close (perhaps physical) relationships. They form a fascinating backdrop as the story unfolds with their attempts to manipulate while serving her. It is as complex as a Shakespearean drama and yet Somerset is wonderfully even-handed in her treatmet of them all, from Cecil and Dudley to the deranged and dangerous step son of Dudley. E I's missteps, pride, and personal need for attention and love are criticially covered in just the right level of detail: not academically over-exhaustive, but satisfyingly complete nonetheless. After reading this, I went to the National Portrait Gallery in London and immensely enjoyed looking at paintings of virtually all of the characters. Finally, the finances of the Kingdon, so interlinked with the patronage system she managed to keep her aristocrats happy, are explained in perfect detail that is never excessive. There is also a clear explanation of E I's carefully engineered religious compromise as embodied in the Anglican Church. Then there are the details of E I's diplomacy: she held out the prospect of marriage as a tool of this, ever enticing suitors, but never quite committing. It was a brilliant balancing act, in which she often felt personally vulnerable and perhaps even hopeful of finding a love match, while ever cunningly manipulative. This was perhaps the most fascinating for me, with characters surpassing her courtiers, such as the Duke d'Anjou, who preferred men and was later a transvestite before being murdered as the French King. But there were score of others, including Philip II, her great rival in Spain an

The First Iron lady?

This is an excellent book and a lively and interesting read. Anne Somerset gives an insight into all sides of the character of Elizabeth. Her moods and feelings, (she was renowned at the time for her short temper), both as a woman and a Queen. The glamour of the Tudor court and what it was like to be in or out of favour in a clique where a careless word could in some cases cost you your life. Elizabeth did not suffer fools gladly and the book examines her religious feelings, her sexuality and the way she dealt with conflicts both at home and abroad in what was essentially a man's world. Elizabeth was nobody's fool and although she would listen to her advisers, she had a mind of her own, shrewd and extremely intelligent, and was quite capable of using her authority as monarch to make important decisions for herself. The book is a delight for anyone with the slightest interest in history.

Best Book on Elizabeth I

I've read almost a dozen books on the Tudors and this is the best on Elizabeth I. Although I usually get my doses of the Tudors from Alison Weir and Antonia Fraser, Anne Somerset has truly written and organized a beautiful book. An impressive work -- better than any other I've read on the world's greatest monarch.

An excellent bio of Elizabeth and her complex world.

This book is not light-weight reading. It's quite thick at 575 pages of fine text. It does, however, cover extremely well Elizabeth's reign and puts many of her decisions in their social context. The author has relied heavily on primary sources for this work and they give a "flavour" to the time Elizabeth lived in. You end up with a good feel for Elizabeth's mercurial personality. Her chronic indecisiveness and hatred of being forced into a decision. The mine-field of international politics, when phones and TV didn't exist. Second-guessing the opposition, or trying to prevent an opposition from forming.For an in-depth view of Elizabeth's life, reign and era this book is up there at the top of the list, if you can take the time to read it.
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