The Life of Elizabeth I - Review
Queen Elizabeth stewarded a forty five year reign of stability for a country that had embraced religious rebellion and counter rebellion. She sat on the throne of England between the years of 1558 and 1603. Alison Weir serves as biographer to the queen in The Life of Elizabeth I. As a daughter of the infamous King Henry VIII, Elizabeth grew up an heir to the throne and threat to the powers that be. Elizabeth experienced early life as a prisoner in the Tower of London. Her eventual ascension to the throne marked the displacement of Queen Mary I, otherwise Bloody Mary, known for her persecution of those associated with the new protestant faith. The Queen played host to the romantic age of exploration, Shakespeare, grand feasts, and tournaments. She was known as the Virgin Queen and never married or bore children. This image was carefully protected throughout her life and helped to seal her fate as one of the most memorable rulers that England has ever had. Weir describes this book as an exposition on the life of the queen and not her politics. Chapters describe personal relationships, decisions, and conflicts faced by Elizabeth. The complex political world can't help but play a central role in the story despite the authors focus on the life of the Sovereign. The reader learns much about the religious conflict between the Catholic Church and the newly established Protestants and also of the rebellions, plots, and politicking of European aristocracy. The marital life of the Queen dominates the pages of this book just as it did the books of her days. Weir writes chronologically and doesn't break away from her central character.
The reader learns of politics through the lives of european royalty.
I would recommend reading this book with hesitation. This is the first book I have ever read about the queen and felt like the major plots of her story were lurking behind historical context. I wanted to know more about the surrounding world than I did about Elizabeth alone. Other characters came in and out of her life seeking marriage, power, or both. Men and women act scandalously and loyalty and it was fascinating to see the Queen respond in kind. Check this book out if you want to know more about the personal life of Elizabeth I. If you want to gain a better context for the time then this might not be the read for you.