The Life of Elizabeth I

The Life of Elizabeth I

Book - 1999
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The long life and powerful personality of England's beloved Virgin Queen have eternal appeal, and popular historian Alison Weir depicts both with panache. She's especially good at evoking the physical texture of Tudor England: the elaborate royal gowns (actually an intricate assembly of separate fabric panels buttoned together over linen shifts), the luxurious but unhygienic palaces (Elizabeth got the only "close stool"; most members of her retinue relieved themselves in the courtyards), the huge meals heavily seasoned to disguise the taste of spoiled meat. Against this earthy backdrop, Elizabeth's intelligence and formidable political skills stand in vivid relief. She may have been autocratic, devious, even deceptive, but these traits were required to perform a 45-year tightrope walk between the two great powers of Europe, France and Spain. Both countries were eager to bring small, weak England under their sway and to safely marry off its inconveniently independent queen. Weir emphasizes Elizabeth's precarious position as a ruling woman in a man's world, suggesting plausibly that the single life was personally appealing as well as politically expedient for someone who had seen many ambitious ladies--including her own mother--ruined and even executed for just the appearance of sexual indiscretions. The author's evaluations of such key figures in Elizabeth's reign as the Earl of Leicester (arguably the only man she ever loved) and William Cecil (her most trusted adviser) are equally cogent and respectful of psychological complexity. Weir does a fine job of retelling this always-popular story for a new generation.
Publisher: New York : Ballantine Publishing Group, 1999, c1998.
Edition: First American trade pbk. edition
ISBN: 9780345425508
Branch Call Number: 942.055092 Eliza -W 3701 1
Characteristics: 532 pages : illustrations


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Apr 20, 2015

Extremely well researched and detailed. This information dense biography explains the complex and sometimes ridiculous planning and scheming that happened around the arrangement of royal marriages as well as the battle between church and state at that time. It also provides a good look at the dress, customs and social expectations of the time period. Being royal isn't what its cracked up to be but this feisty tenacious queen held her own for 45 years.

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