Their enemies branded them both murderesses, whores and daughters of the devil. Elizabeth’s supporters anointed her a hero and savior, while Mary’s faithful invested her as a saint and martyr. Reigning side by side, but yet never meeting face-to-face, these queens were inexorably linked in a tumultuous relationship that, until now, has never fully been revealed and explored.
Elizabeth & Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens is master biographer Jane Dunn’s richly textured portrait of two incredible women. A story of a relationship punctuated by reversals of fortune; murder mysteries; sexual intrigue; reckless behavior, heated battles and cold war, Elizabeth & Mary is staged against a past as dark and dangerous as it was vibrantly alive.
Dunn shows the indissoluble bond between the queens was forged by two opposing forces; their shared inheritance and rivalry for Elizabeth’s crown set against their natural solidarity as ruling females in an overwhelmingly masculine world. She delves behind Elizabeth’s reputation as steely virgin queen, using her celibacy as a weapon, valuing reason and duty above all. She looks at Mary as celebrity queen, femme fatale and flawed heroine, a woman who capped the theatre of her death in a brilliant cloak of redemption. And she corrects many misconceptions about her subjects, revealing Mary as a more serious contender for power than had been previously thought, and Elizabeth as far more vulnerable than her formidable reputation.
Intelligent and completely riveting, this beautifully produced and lavishly illustrated book masterfully juxtaposes the histories of two remarkable women, culminating in tragedy, as Elizabeth the victor hesitantly signed her cousin’s death warrant.
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Jane Dunn’s Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens offers a blend of history and biography that traces the "dynamic interaction" between two of the most powerful women in Western history. Dunn remains ever aware of the uniqueness of her two central figures: both women ruled as divinely ordained monarchs in a male dominated power structure; and both women were from the same family (Elizabeth I was the granddaughter of Henry VII, and Mary Queen of Scots the great-granddaughter of King Henry).
By focusing not on pure biography but instead on relationships, Dunn is able to narrow her book (still mammoth in scope) to the most salient and interesting events in the two queens’ lives. The book begins in 1558, the year in which Mary first wed and Elizabeth assumed the throne of England. Almost immediately the cousins were embroiled in a conflict that would endure for the remainder of Mary’s life. A restless, sexually-active Catholic, and leader of the Scottish people in alliance with France, Mary was ever a conduit for rumors of rebellion. The "Virgin Queen" Elizabeth used Mary as a dark reflection to underline her own celibate constancy as a ruler of law and order.
The pair never met face to face, but as Dunn reveals, their lives were closely intertwined. After holding Mary in Fotheringhay prison for nearly two decades, Elizabeth ordered her cousin executed in 1587. Mary had chosen martyrdom in favor of a confession to complicity in the Babington assassination plot. In court, she declared: "I would never make Shipwreck of my Soul by conspiring the Destruction of my dearest Sister." Though the ostensible victor, Elizabeth (who had struggled to find a way to release her cousin while still upholding her own power as queen) confessed, "I am not free, but a captive." In Elizabeth and Mary, Dunn has built a rich world that underlines the tragic struggle between private emotions and the public faces history puts on them. --Patrick O’KelleyFrom the Inside Flap:
The first dual biography of two of the world?s most remarkable women?Elizabeth I of England and Mary Queen of Scots?by one of Britain?s ?best biographers? (The Sunday Times).
In a rich and riveting narrative, Jane Dunn reveals the extraordinary rivalry between the regal cousins. It is the story of two queens ruling on one island, each with a claim to the throne of England, each embodying dramatically opposing qualities of character, ideals of womanliness (and views of sexuality) and divinely ordained kingship.
As regnant queens in an overwhelmingly masculine world, they were deplored for their femaleness, compared unfavorably with each other and courted by the same men. By placing their dynamic and ever-changing relationship at the center of the book, Dunn illuminates their differences. Elizabeth, inheriting a weak, divided country coveted by all the Catholic monarchs of Europe, is revolutionary in her insistence on ruling alone and inspired in her use of celibacy as a political tool?yet also possessed of a deeply feeling nature. Mary is not the romantic victim of history but a courageous adventurer with a reckless heart and a magnetic influence over men and women alike. Vengeful against her enemies and the more ruthless of the two queens, she is untroubled by plotting Elizabeth?s murder. Elizabeth, however, is driven to anguish at finally having to sanction Mary?s death for treason. Working almost exclusively from contemporary letters and writings, Dunn explores their symbiotic, though never face-to-face, relationship and the power struggle that raged between them.
A story of sex, power and politics, of a rivalry unparalleled in the pages of English history, of two charismatic women?told in a masterful double biography.
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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers, 2003. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0002000407