Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne

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9780060184971: Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne

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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Review:

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 is usually imagined as the icy, untouchable figure memorably recreated on screen by Bette Davis and 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 following the death of her sister Mary. It is these early years which are the subject of David Starkey's fascinating Elizabeth I, written to accompany his television series about the life of Elizabeth.

Starkey argues that in her first 25 years Elizabeth "had experienced every vicissitude of fortune and ever 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, whilst also exploring 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

Review:

"Fresh and lively... Vividly told... He sets before us not only the woman behind the throne but the girl behind the woman" ( Sunday Times)

"The best account in English of the early years of Elizabeth... One of the most zestful pieces of narrative history written...a racy read and first-rate history" ( Evening Standard)

"What a page turner! A white knuckle ride through history...inspired research, from the clues embedded in the portraits to court ceremonial to the often circumlocutory letters" ( Time Out)

"I found myself compelled by David Starkey's vivid recreation of the hazardous uncertainty of Elizabeth's early life, her successive exclusions from the centre of power, the studiedly ambiguous answers she offered her interrogators, her inevitable implications in conspiracies and narrow escapes from execution" ( Times Literary Supplement)

"Combines a relaxed and unfussy style with a thorough knowledge of the period and a sharp eye for detail. Elizabeth's life makes for a compelling story and Starkey tells it well" ( Spectator)

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Book Description Harper Collins, New York, 2001. Hard Cover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. First Edition. 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. First Edition, first printing. Unread, perfect condition. Jacket protected by clear, removable, mylar archival cover. First published in Great Britain in 2000 by Chatto & Windus. "The best account in English of the early years of Elizabeth." Evening Standard. "David Starkey reigns supreme over Tudor history." Amanda Foreman. ". up-to-date research and balance between speculation and fact. Indeed this is very much an Elizabeth for our times." Independent. Bookseller Inventory # 002398

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