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With the Heart of a King: Elizabeth I of England, Philip II of Spain, and the Fight for a Nation's Soul and Crown [Hardcover]

Benton Rain Patterson


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Book Description

Feb. 6 2007
Philip II of Spain, the most powerful monarch in sixteenth-century Europe and a ferocious empire-builder, was matched against the dauntless queen of England, Elizabeth I, determined to defend her country and thwart Philip's ambitions.  Philip had been king of England while married to Elizabeth's half-sister, Bloody Mary Tudor, a devout Catholic.  After Mary's untimely death, he courted Elizabeth, the new queen, and proposed marriage to her, hoping to build a permanent alliance between his country and hers and return England to the Catholic fold.  Lukewarm to the Spanish alliance and resolute against a counterreformation, Elizabeth declined his proposal.
 
When under her guidance England's maritime power grew to challenge Spain's rule of the sea and threaten its rich commerce, Philip became obsessed with the idea of a conquest of England and the restoration of Catholicism there, by fire and sword.  Elizabeth—bold, brilliant, defiantly Protestant—became his worst enemy.
 
In 1586 Philip began assembling the mighty Spanish Armada, and in May 1588 it sailed from Lisbon.  With superior seamanship and strategies, Elizabeth's navy defeated and drove off the Spanish fleet.  Forced to retreat around the northern coast of Ireland and Scotland, Philip's ships ran into violent storms that wreaked havoc.  It was the rivalry's climactic event.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (Feb. 6 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312348444
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312348441
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.5 x 3.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 567 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,725,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

He was the dour Catholic despot bent on stamping out the Reformation; she was the plucky ruler of Europe's leading Protestant power. He was the widower who proposed marriage to his sister-in-law; she was the coy virgin queen who kept him off-balance by flirting with other potentates. As they move from dalliance to open war during the expedition of the Spanish Armada, Philip II of Spain and Elizabeth I of England shape the 16th century into a romance saga. Well, not really; a similar book could be written about many duos among Europe's incestuous ruling class, where power marriages were treated as the gravest matters of state. Journalist Patterson writes an enjoyable narrative of the intensely personal politics of the era, with plenty of intrigue and colorful characters, including the tragic Mary Queen of Scots and the dashing Francis Drake. The author sets it all against a backdrop of Renaissance pageantry and ritualistic burnings and beheadings of heretics and papists. The Elizabeth-Philip relationship is not an unduly cogent framework for a history of the age, but it makes for diverting true-life soap opera on an epic scale. 8 pages of b&w photos. (Feb.)
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Review

"He was the dour Catholic despot bent on stamping out the Reformation; she was the plucky ruler of Europe's leading Protestant power. He was the widower who proposed marriage to his sister-in-law; she was the coy virgin queen who kept him off-balance by flirting with other potentates. As they move from dalliance to open war during the expedition of the Spanish Armada, Philip II of Spain and Elizabeth I of England shape the 16th century into a romance saga . . . Journalist Patterson writes an enjoyable narrative of the intensely personal politics of the era, with plenty of intrigue and colorful characters, including the tragic Mary Queen of Scots and the dashing Francis Drake. The author sets it all against a backdrop of Renaissance pageantry and ritualistic burnings and beheadings of heretics and papists. The Elizabeth-Philip relationship . . . makes for diverting true-life soap opera on an epic scale."—Publishers Weekly


Inside This Book (Learn More)
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In the year 1527, the most powerful man of the Western world was the Holy Roman emperor, Charles V, emperor of Austria and Germany, king of Spain and Sicily, and lord over a dozen or more other states in Italy and the Netherlands, which included Belgium. Read the first page
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars terrific historical account Feb. 10 2007
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
King Philip II of Spain was also the King of England when his wife devout Catholic Mary sat on the throne. Like his spouse he loathed the Reformation and tired to end its pervasive insurrection while also building a powerful empire. When Mary Tudor dies, which means her widow is no longer an English monarch, her half sister Protestant supporter Elizabeth I becomes ruler of England. Philip proposes marriage, but she rejects his offer. Instead she challenges his Catholic ways with her Protestant ways leading her nation into being a rival maritime superpower until by 1588 he sends his powerful armada to conquer England.

This is a terrific historical account of how personal alliances were amongst the sixteenth century European monarchies. In some ways the tome feels like a romance novel as the widower pursues his former sister-in-law who rejects his advances. However, their dysfunctional relationship represents the war between Catholic and Protestant domination of Europe and the New World. Well written and fun to read, Elizabethan aficionados (sorry Philip but history is written by the winner) will appreciate this insightful look at the latter half of the sixteenth century when national conflict was personalized.

Harriet Klausner
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and well-written, but lacks a cogent narrative July 7 2010
By Smoodles - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was very excited to read this book, as I have long considered the relationship between Philip II of Spain and Elizabeth I to be one of the most compelling aspects of the late-sixteenth century political scene. Unfortunately, this book neglects that relationship, when it should be the most important part of the narrative. The book itself is certainly not bad; in fact as an overview of the conflicts that led to the Anglo-Spanish War it works well. It just wasn't what I thought it would be.

The author has an engaging writing style and has obviously done his research. The book starts out on track; several chapters are devoted to the upbringing of Philip and Elizabeth, six years apart in age; one born the Prince of Spain, the other Princess of England and later bastardized and disinherited. Elizabeth's chaotic and frightening childhood is contrasted with Philip's stately and somewhat stifling upbringing. These chapters are illuminating, especially with regard to the personality of the future King of Spain. The book follows the action until Philip sacrificially marries Elizabeth's elder half-sister, Mary I.

And then things start to fall off the rails. When the author abandons his "side by side" approach to telling the story of Elizabeth and Philip (i.e. a chapter for Elizabeth, one for Philip, etc.) the narrative loses it's framework. Elizabeth and Philip or both might disappear for several chapters, robbing the story of its designated protagonists. The timeline is confusing; in one particularly jarring example, a chapter suddenly shifts the action to the early 1500s. The book goes off on tangents, detailing everything from the Turkish wars to Philip's rebellious subjects in the Netherlands. Not that these sections aren't interesting; they are. But the tangents feel arbitrary.

Really, the biggest problem with this book is the lack of Elizabeth and Philip themselves. Politics were personal in the sixteenth century, but this book overloaded on the politics and neglected the personal. The arc of their relationship, from rumored sexual chemistry during Mary's reign to matrimonial proposals to bitter religious, economic, and political conflict, is the human narrative that this book claims to focus on. I certainly didn't expect a lot of pop psychology or soap-opera theatrics, but I did want new insights into who Elizabeth and Philip were as people and how they related to each other. This the book didn't deliver. Without the framework of their relationship, the book seems disjointed, and for any serious student of sixteenth century politics there isn't a whole lot new here.

I did enjoy the book. However, I am a bit frustrated, as if there was a really good story in here that didn't get told.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, intelligent June 14 2013
By Morrigan - Published on Amazon.com
Finally, an intelligent account of the political and personal rivalry between Elizabeth and Philip. I only wish this author would write more about the Tudor period, as it is my area of special interest.

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