I don t like nonfiction as a rule But this was one of those rare nonfics that read like a piece of fiction and even though the book is a brick, I read the whole thing in under four days It kept my attention from start to finish The medieval history of the English monarchy is interesting but not a subject I read about frequently Alison Weir whose name I always spell weird and have to edit is deserving of the acclaim she has earned to date because she provides information AND entertains Most nonfiction authors don t have that magical ability I look forward to reading from this author.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERPerhaps The Most Influential Sovereign England Has Ever Known, Queen Elizabeth I Remained An Extremely Private Person Throughout Her Reign, Keeping Her Own Counsel And Sharing Secrets With No One Not Even Her Closest, Most Trusted Advisers Now, In This Brilliantly Researched, Fascinating New Book, Acclaimed Biographer Alison Weir Shares Provocative New Interpretations And Fresh Insights On This Enigmatic FigureAgainst A Lavish Backdrop Of Pageantry And Passion, Intrigue And War, Weir Dispels The Myths Surrounding Elizabeth I And Examines The Contradictions Of Her Character 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 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, The Life of Elizabeth I Is A Mesmerizing, Stunning Reading Experience Talk about having a disfunctional family.
Your Dad marries your Mom when he s still technically married to his first wife No matter your Dad is the King of England Your Dad gets bored with your Mom and she looses her head literally You then go from princess to bastard and get sent away until your Dad likes you again Your Dad remarries, and yet again a few times You cant help feeling a little insecure in such an unstable enviroment You grow up loved and then hated then loved again Your younger brother becomes King and he has a few ideas of his own about how you are supposed to pray to God Your elder sister gets her turn being Queen and she isnt too keen on you or your religion either Finally at last you get your turn at the helm and much to everyone s surprise and joy, you actually do a pretty good job Just watch out for all those suitors asking for your hand or that nasty Spanish Armada coming your direction and how about that pesky Scotish Catholic Queen and cousin She came for a visit and stayed twenty years, bad mouthing you the entire time Such is the exciting life of Elizabeth Tudor Queen of England for 43 years.
Just superb As a long standing Elizabethan, reading this book has been a joy Without a shadow of a doubt, the greatest English monarch and Alison Weir guides us through this golden time from under the oak tree at Hatfield Palace in 1558, to her passing at Richmond in 1603.
The level of research of contemporary documents, state papers and the almost twenty pages of bibliography provide a most intimate and extraordinary insight into the reign of good Queen Bess The author provides no Notes, but I didn t find that detracted at all from this biography The detail is such, with each page containing quotations and original letters that Elizabeth the Queen takes the reader back over four hundred years into her public and private life Published back in 1998, I just wonder why it has taken me so long to finally read this book.
B Certainly not averse to a good conspiracy theory, and there are many from the sixteenth century, I notice that a certain American writer of fiction, Steve Berry has just had published by Hodder, a book entitled The King s Deception He purports that Elizabeth died c1543 and was replaced by a ten year old boy, who then performed a drag act for the next sixty years, unknown to the world Please Mr Berry, stay over your side of the Atlantic where there are far plausible conspiracy theories to be pursued.
Probably still the best Biography of Elizabeth, despite the 17 years since it s publication Weir at the top of her game A must read for anyone interested in the Tudors The book that ignited my love of the history of the English Monarchy.
Alison Weir s magisterial biography of Elizabeth I left me with mixed feelings It is an extraordinary work, and a treasure trove for those who want to know what Elizabeth was truly like What it does not show the reader is the country she ruled But perhaps it was never meant to, and for anyone drawn to Elizabeth as an individual, it is essential reading meticulous in its research, and very well written.
Weir gives us a splendid picture of the Queen as she navigated the shoals of potential marriage alliances, plots against her and rivalries at Court The challenges that faced her when she came to the throne are well known the country was riven by religious strife that had been provoked in large part by her father, and her siblings, Edward VI and Mary, had failed to heal these rifts That Elizabeth would to a limited extent do so, at least for the duration of her reign, was to be one of her greatest achievements Weir allows us to see the shrewdness and caution that brought this about She is good, too, on the marriage negotiations that the Queen pursued for many years I had always assumed that Elizabeth never meant to get married and that this diplomatic dance was only to leave both France and the Hapsburgs hoping for a marriage alliance, so that neither would become her enemy in the interim In fact, Weir s detailed account suggests that Elizabeth really did consider a diplomatic marriage, albeit reluctantly As to the various plots that were made against her, Weir writes particularly well of the relationships with Mary Queen of Scots and Essex, and the fate that befell these two rather foolish people a fate that Elizabeth would clearly have spared them, had they but given her the slightest excuse for mercy.
There are one or two ways in which this book could have held my attention even closely than it did Weir says little about the mental scars that Elizabeth must have borne from the fact that her father had her mother beheaded On the other hand, Elizabeth was so reticent about this in her lifetime that there is little to go on, and anything that Weir said would perhaps have been speculation something that she in general avoids Also, there is a large cast of characters at Court, and enormous detail of the Queen s correspondence and at times this drowns out the personalities that mattered In particular, although Dudley, Mary Queen of Scots and Essex do leap off the page, Burghley somehow does not, a pity in view of his crucial role in the reign Though Weir does finger him for the murder of Amy Dudley that actually is speculation but it is most intriguing At times I felt I might have preferred to learn about fewer characters.
More seriously, quite near the end of the book, we hear of the famines that plagued England for some years towards the end of Elizabeth s life, of the effects of the Enclosures, and of the large growth in population I thought Weir might have made of this, and of the cultural and maritime achievements that marked this outstanding reign I suppose one could argue that that was simply not the intention of the book that its focus was always meant to be Elizabeth and not the England that she ruled Yet I should have liked to read less of the interminable marriage negotiations after all, we know from the beginning that they came to naught and of the extraordinary England of Elizabeth that still dazzles us today.
The fact remains that this book is a wonderful work of scholarship It is also well written the chapters on the death of Dudley s wife, the end of Mary Queen of Scots and the end of Essex are especially vibrant Besides, if one wants social history, one can I am sure find it elsewhere For those and there are many who are fascinated by Elizabeth herself, this book is indispensable.
More than a man, less than a woman.
Queen Elizabeth the First has always been one of my favorite historical figures As a child, I remember reading quite a lot of historical fiction centered on Elizabeth prior to her ascension Last year for Christmas I asked for this biography on Elizabeth because I have heard positive things about Alison Weir s nonfiction on the Tudors And this year, at age 25, I felt a sudden urge to read it Turns out, Elizabeth was coronated when she was 25 She ruled for over 40 years and is likely the most well known female sovereign in the Western tradition At 25 years old, she was at last in control of her destiny, and having lived in one kind of constraint or another for her whole existence so far, she was determined to preserve her independence and autonomy.
Liz was not a particularly friendly person, but her charisma was definitely present in her daily interactions with the court She lived a life unlike anyone else has ever known Extremely educated, a horseback rider, a hunter, a devout Christian Elizabeth was surrounded by male courtiers and, without placing too much of a 21st century lens on her, she did not subscribe to traditional gender roles She herself described her gender asthan a man, less than a woman which I found deeply sentimental History remembers her for her cult of virginity, her defeat of the Spanish Armada, the omnipresent succession question, but I was drawn in by the smaller moments For all this, there still remained in Elizabethan society a deeply ingrained prejudice against female sovereigns in general The unhappy example of Queen Mary seemed to confirm the general view that women were not born to rule.
Beautifully researched and written, but I recommend an interest in Elizabethan history before reading.
Interestingly, this is the first time I ve read a history book that s just about Elizabeth Considering how much I ve already read about her parents and their lives, I thought it was weird that I didn t actually know that much about Elizabeth s life after her parents died This was a really good place to start.
Alison Weir is probably my favorite historian she doesn t make as many easily disputable claims in her books, like Antonia Fraser, and her writing has clarity and a nice humorous touch that appears every so often She also writes about these people and their lives like she was there the whole time Do you know what the weather in London was like on the day Elizabeth was crowned Alison Weir does It s details like that that made me give this book five stars For example, take this passage on Elizabeth s clothing Elizabeth I s wardrobe, which was rud to contain than three thousand gowns, became legendary during her lifetime, as her costumes grew even flamboyant and fantastic.
The Queen s portraits invariably show her in dresses of silk, velvet, taffeta, or cloth of gold, encrusted with real gems, countless pearls and sumptuous embroidery in silver or gold thread whilst her starched ruffs and stiff gauze collars grew even larger Her favored colours were black, white, and silver, worn with transparent silver veils Many gowns were embroidered with symbols and emblems such as roses, suns, rainbows, monsters, spiders, ears of wheat, mulberries, pomegranates or pansies, the flowers she loved best Damn.
My favorite part of the book is actually at the very end, and isn t even technically part of the book at all think of it as a bonus track After the epilogue and the eighteen page bibliography and the three genealogical tables, Weir adds a delightfully spiteful article she wrote on movies about Elizabeth which ones take the material seriously and still manage to be entertaining, and which ones make her want to tear her hair out In case you re wondering, Weir likes the BBC miniseries with Helen Mirren as Elizabeth I heartily agree , and she spits on anything with Cate Blanchett in it Elizabeth contained so many inaccuracies it would be impossible to list them all but she does anyway and The Golden Age is another historical travesty, made with only the sketchiest regard for the facts and little understanding of the period I wonder if Alison Weir has ever watched that HBO series, The Tudors Probably not She d probably throw something at the television five minutes into the first episode I would pay to be able to watch something like that with Alison Weir It d be almost as fun as watching New Moon with Sherman Alexie.
OK, here is my advice if you want to read about the Tudors read this author read Alison Weir read her non fiction books They are better than her books of fiction Weir manages to make all the facts interesting She is clear and she knows how to tell the story so it reads as fiction, but every little detail is 100% true You have surely met people who REALLY know their subject their knowledge enables them to have every fact at their fingertips They know all the amusing details too Alison Weir is one such person Further I highly recommend the audiobook narration by Davina Porter The narration was delightful I never felt I was listening to a stuffy proper English matron The quotes are not only perfectly woven into the text by the author but also perfectly intoned by the narrator The quotes of Elizabeth are both wise and beautifully expressed I loved the book for the quotes And boy do I admire Elizabeth I Talk about a strong woman who had a miserable childhood, and really made something of herself There are so many books written about the Tudor era In this one book you get all those other stories clearly, succinctly told In a fashion that reads as fiction I am a beginner on the theme of Tudor history I believe that the you know the you will appreciate this book I gave the book four stars because I really liked it.
That is what four stars is supposed to mean It is that simple I believe that if I were knowledgeable I would have given it five stars If you start knowing a lot you can stuff even into your head I do not mean that to appreciate this book you must have previously read on the topic No, the opposite is true This is a wonderful place to start Why Because Alison Weir makes Elizabeth s life so darn interesting You come to know the people, inside and out You come to care for them All the men, all the suitors Poor, poor Elizabeth she spent all her life with everyone trying to get her to wed someone She outwitted them all She was a marvelous person, a strong person and she did this all alone, albeit with great advisors which she had the talent and wisdom to pick What a leader