A brilliant and compelling account of the apprentice years of Elizabeth I. An abused child, yet confident of her destiny to reign, a woman in a man's world, passionately sexual yet -- she said -- a virgin, Elizabeth I was to be famed as England's most successful ruler. This absorbing new book, by concentrating on the early years from her birth in 1533 to her accession in 1558, shows how her experiences of danger and adventure formed her remarkable character and shaped her opinions and beliefs. For in her youth she had experienced every vicissitude of fortune and every extreme of condition. She had been Princess and inheritrix of England -- then bastardized and disinherited. At sixteen she was the head of a great princely household. Not much later she was an accused traitor on the verge of execution in the Tower. Among all this, she had been taught the most advanced curriculum of the day. But it was her lessons in the school of life that mattered more -- and that taught her humanity. Dr David Starkey recreates a host of extravagant characters, mad-cap schemes and tragic plots, while using original documents to point up the importance of the rituals of power and life at court. He writes with admirable clarity about religion and constitutional history. This brilliant book contrasts the daughters of Henry VIII: the pious Catholic Mary and her clever sister. The key to understanding Elizabeth is her determination not to make the same mistakes as Mary.
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The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, Good Queen Bess; Elizabeth I holds a unique place in the English imagination as one of the nation's most powerful, charismatic, and successful monarchs. Elizabeth usually is imagined as the icy, untouchable figure, re-created memorably on screen by Bette Davis and Dame Judi Dench, but that vision of Elizabeth ignores the turbulent years of her early life, from her birth as the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn in 1533 until her accession to the throne in 1558 after the death of her sister Mary. It is these early years that are the subject of David Starkey's fascinating Elizabeth, which was written to accompany the television series about her life.
Starkey argues that Elizabeth, in her first 25 years, "had experienced every vicissitude of fortune and every extreme of condition. She had been Princess and inheritrix of England, and bastard and disinherited; the nominated successor to the throne and an accused traitor on the verge of execution; showered with lands and houses, and a prisoner in the Tower". He draws on his skills as a respected Tudor historian to produce a deft account of the religious, political, and dynastic maelstrom of mid-16th-century England that reads "like a historical thriller." The book carefully picks its way through the finer points of contemporary religious conflict and the peculiarities of Tudor court ceremony, while exploring also the formation of Elizabeth's character in relation to a murdered mother, a charismatic father, a tortured sister, and a predatory guardian. Highly readable, and written with verve and pace, this is a fascinating account of the young Elizabeth. --Jerry Brotton, Amazon.co.ukAbout the Author:
David Starkey is Honorary Fellow of Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, and the author of many books including 'Elizabeth'; 'Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII' and 'Monarchy: England and Her Rulers from the Tudors to the Windsors'. He is a winner of the WH Smith Prize and the Norton Medlicott Medal for Services to History presented by Britain's Historical Association. He is a well-known TV and radio personality. He was made a CBE in 2007. He lives in London.
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