Britain Alison Weir The Life of Elizabeth I

ISBN 13: 9780345405333

The Life of Elizabeth I

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9780345405333: The Life of Elizabeth I

Perhaps the most influential sovereign England has ever known, Queen Elizabeth I reigned prosperously for more than forty years, from 1558 until her death in 1603. During her rule, however, she remained an extremely private person, keeping her own counsel and sharing secrets with no one--not even her closest, most trusted advisors. Now, in this brilliantly researched, fascinating new book, acclaimed biographer Alison Weir brings the enigmatic figure of Elizabeth 1 to life as never before.

Here are provocative new interpretations and fresh insights on the intimacy between Elizabeth and Robert Dudley, who rose from Master of the Horse to become Earl of Leicester; the imprisonment and execution of Elizabeth's rival, Mary Stuart; Elizabeth's clash with Philip of Spain, once her suitor and then her enemy; and the cruel betrayal of her beloved Essex.

Against a lavish backdrop of pageantry and passion, intrigue and war, Weir dispels the myths surrounding Elizabeth I and examines the contradictions of her character, exploring complex questions. Elizabeth I loved the Earl of Leicester, but did she conspire to murder his wife? She called herself the Virgin Queen, but how chaste was she through dozens of liaisons? She never married, but was her choice to remain single tied to the chilling fate of her mother, Anne Boleyn?

An enthralling epic that is also an amazingly intimate portrait, Alison Weir's The Life of Elizabeth I is a work of deep reflection and extraordinary scholarship--a mesmerizing, stunning reading experience.

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Review:

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. --Wendy Smith

From the Back Cover:

PRAISE FOR ALISON WEIR

The Six Wives of Henry VIII
"Brilliantly written and meticulously researched . . . Alison Weir is adept at bringing to life these historical figures."
--San Francisco Chronicle

The Children of Henry VIII
"Like anthropology, history and biography can demonstrate unfamiliar ways of feeling and being. Alison Weir's sympathetic collective biography The Children of Henry VIII does just that, reminding us that human nature has changed--and for the better."
--The New York Times Book Review

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