1603: The Death of Queen Elizabeth I, the Return of the Black Plague, the Rise of Shakespeare, Piracy, Witchcraft, and the Birth of the Stuart Era

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9780312321390: 1603: The Death of Queen Elizabeth I, the Return of the Black Plague, the Rise of Shakespeare, Piracy, Witchcraft, and the Birth of the Stuart Era

1603 was the year that Queen Elizabeth I, the last of the Tudors, died. Her cousin, Robert Carey, immediately rode like a demon to Scotland to take the news to James VI. The cataclysmic time of the Stuarts had come and the son of Mary Queen of Scots left Edinburgh for London to claim his throne as James I of England.

Diaries and notes written in 1603 describe how a resurgence of the plague killed nearly 40,000 people. Priests blamed the sins of the people for the pestilence, witches were strangled and burned and plotters strung up on gate tops. But not all was gloom and violence. From a ship's log we learn of the first precious cargoes of pepper arriving from the East Indies after the establishment of a new spice route; Sharkespeare was finishing Othello and Ben Jonson wrote furiously to please a nation thirsting for entertainment.

1603 was one of the most important and interesting years in British history. Christopher Lee, acclaimed author of This Sceptred Isle, unfolds its story from first-hand accounts and original documents to mirror the seminal year in which Britain moved from Tudor medievalism towards the wars, republicanism and regicide that lay ahead.

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About the Author:

Christopher Lee studied history at Cambridge and subsequently became BBC defense correspondent. He is the author of the acclaimed BBC series This Sceptered Isle and has edited Churchill's History of the English-Speaking Peoples from the original four volumes into a single book .

From Publishers Weekly:

Lee, author of This Sceptred Isle, a history of Britain that accompanied a BBC radio series, focuses in on one turning point in that saga. In 1603 the Elizabethan era ended with the last Tudor monarch's death, and the Stuart dynasty began with the coronation of James I (formerly James VI of Scotland). Lee gives the political background by skillfully summarizing the past intrigues of the Tudor era. Drawing on chronicles, diaries and letters, Lee paints a lively picture of the society that the new king inherited. A condensed biography of James (the only son of Mary, Queen of Scots) details his birth, his mother's political intrigues and execution, and his schooling and marriage. A meandering middle section describes James's uncertain procession south from Scotland to his coronation in London. Vivid snapshots of the plague and of witch-hunting, a dense account of the demise of Walter Raleigh, an outline of London's theater world, a glimpse of Irish revolt and tales of early empire-building voyages make absorbing reading. Yet Lee struggles to define the year's significance beyond mere regime change. He is analytic when discussing endemic government corruption, the nation's uneasy religious mood, the creation of the King James Bible and James's clampdown on the lucrative piracy industry, but these analyses never gel into an overall thesis. Yet in its rich texture and detail, 1603 will surely whet the appetite of readers interested in 17th-century English history. 8 pages of b&w photos.
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