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Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne Paperback – Sep 25 2007

4.1 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 edition (Sept. 25 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061367435
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061367434
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.4 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #320,774 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, Good Queen Bess; Elizabeth I holds a unique place in the English imagination as one of the nation's most powerful, charismatic, and successful monarchs. Elizabeth usually is imagined as the icy, untouchable figure, re-created memorably on screen by Bette Davis and Dame Judi Dench, but that vision of Elizabeth ignores the turbulent years of her early life, from her birth as the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn in 1533 until her accession to the throne in 1558 after the death of her sister Mary. It is these early years that are the subject of David Starkey's fascinating Elizabeth, which was written to accompany the television series about her life.

Starkey argues that Elizabeth, in her first 25 years, "had experienced every vicissitude of fortune and every extreme of condition. She had been Princess and inheritrix of England, and bastard and disinherited; the nominated successor to the throne and an accused traitor on the verge of execution; showered with lands and houses, and a prisoner in the Tower". He draws on his skills as a respected Tudor historian to produce a deft account of the religious, political, and dynastic maelstrom of mid-16th-century England that reads "like a historical thriller." The book carefully picks its way through the finer points of contemporary religious conflict and the peculiarities of Tudor court ceremony, while exploring also the formation of Elizabeth's character in relation to a murdered mother, a charismatic father, a tortured sister, and a predatory guardian. Highly readable, and written with verve and pace, this is a fascinating account of the young Elizabeth. --Jerry Brotton, --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

The Virgin Queen's posthumous retinue of admirers is threatening to outnumber the acolytes who surrounded her in life; here, in a very accessible way, Cambridge University historian Starkey (The Inventory of King Henry VIII etc.) addresses Elizabeth's young life in all of its "aching vulnerability," following her from childhood into the earliest years of her reign. Eschewing the evocative extravagance of Alison Weir's Life of Elizabeth I, this book's 44 brief chapters move crisply. Starkey's account is innocuously populist: he aspires to telling "a wonderful adventure story," in which allegations of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of Elizabeth's stepfather, Thomas Seymour, remain more spicy than disturbing. Still, despite his admission that he himself has half fallen for Elizabeth, what separates Starkey from other popular historians of the reign is his resolute avoidance of sentimentality. He presents us with a hard-headed queen, quite capable of chopping off the right hand of an obstreperous pamphleteer. He steers clear of the temptation to romanticize her as a national savior, suggesting that the restored Catholicism of the preceding reign (once described by a historian as "the least English episode in our history") was no less quintessentially English than Elizabethan Protestantism, itself eventually destined to degenerate into intolerance. 16 pages of color illustrations not seen by PW. (Dec. 2)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Elizabeth's political mastery was not a born characteristic. Rather, it is the constant struggle to rise about her illegitimacy into Queen that created the great Elizabeth. Unlike many royals, Elizabeth's life was full of uncertainty and insecurity. She was born Princess, demoted to simply Lady, until one fateful day, she became Queen. Against all odds, she maneuvered her way through the court politics of her father, brother, and sister. The daughter Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth had to live with the reputation as the "whore's daughter." The unwanted reminder to her father, Henry, she was shut away in the country.

But, it was in these country houses, surrounded by faithful servants and friends, Elizabeth was tutored and trained for greatness. Her education was equal to other royal children, but her observations and experiences of survival taught her the important of self-preservation. Unlike her mother, Elizabeth learned how to mediate the contentious and shifting politics of court life, and lived out the rest of her life as Queen.

Starkey brings to life the young Elizabeth. She is far removed from the iconic Virgin Queen of Tudor legend. Here she is a child, her future uncertain. Yet, it is these trials and tribulations that make Elizabeth into the formidable woman she would become. One of the best accounts of Elizabeth's early years, and an erudite examination of the makings of a great Queen!
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Format: Hardcover
As a fan of the monarchy and a lover of British history, Elizabeth I is my favorite monarch and the Elizabethan/Tudor period is one of my favorite periods of history. This book enhanced my understanding of the period and rounded out a historical figure who is, at the very least, sometimes romanticized and idolized.
If you're looking for a book that will give you a complete picture of the virgin queen, this isn't it. This book very thoroughly explores her life prior to becoming queen. Her actual monarchy has perhaps 50 pages devoted to it. Starkey does, however, make this clear up front. This book will give you a greater understanding of the woman who later became queen.
Starkey's narrative is chock full of interesting facts, but he is careful never to make it dry or dull. He intersperses humor and unique anecdotes throughout the book. He is a talented storyteller, even if he does use the phrase "willy-nilly" a few too many times. This book also contains two sections of illustrations, mostly consisting of paintings of Elizabeth, her family, and the prominent people in her life. It is a good supplement to the story and includes many of the best portraits of the period.
Finally, I would urge anyone who has the chance to see Mr. Starkey speak to not pass it up. I saw him speak at a signing for his other book on the wives of Henry VIII and it was extremely memorable and fascinating. He is also more than willing to discuss any questions readers might have about the history or about why he did certain things in his books.
Overall, Starkey presents a fascinating, unique, seldom-seen view of one of England's most beloved monarchs.
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Format: Hardcover
I was a little disappointed in this book. The author could not quite make up his mind about whether the book was about history or of his opinion of history. Another reviewer mentioned the author's occasional irritating use of the first person in the book. If the whole book had been about his views, the first person should have been used throughout.
I have read many books about the Elizabethan period, and tend to believe that this author's take on Elizabeth's last chance at marriage, with the Duc D'Anjou, was completely off. It appears that she knew how silly the situation looked, but strung things along to keep out of a war with France. When it looked like she was stuck, she found a way to send Anjou to the Netherlands to have a position of authority, which allowed him to "save face." This is the work of a wily politician, not a ridiculous, deluded, love-starved woman.
I think this book diminishes Elizabeth's intelligence and political savvy. I believe that she guided the events of her day far more than the author gives her credit for.
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Format: Hardcover
During her reign, Queen Mary foiled several plots to depose her and place Elizabeth on the throne. Most histories describe Elizabeth as completely separate from these revolutionaries. The plotters didn't include her, even if their plots did.
But, once she assumed the throne, Elizabeth proved herself to be a master politician. These skills did not come out of nowhere, as those who portray her as an innocent bystander might make one believe. Starkey's book shows her connections to the movers and shakers of the period, and how unlikely it was that she was unaware of everyone around her's plans.
This book focuses solely on *Elizabeth's* experiences (for example, the burning of heretics in Mary's reign gets only brief mention), so if you're looking for a broader view of what was happening in the rest of the kingdom or world, you may need other books. I recommend Alison Weir's "Children of Henry VIII" which only covers the timeperiod after Henry's death (starting when Elizabeth was 13) and splits its focus between Elizabeth, Mary and Edward.
Starkey also goes into rich details of Mary's funeral, Elizabeth's accession/coronation and the transfer of power that I haven't found in other books. Elizabeth's actual reign is given pretty short shrift -- a few chapters about religion, and another chapter summarizing international relations and dealings with Mary, Queen of Scots -- but then, Starkey acknowledges his narrow focus in his introduction. This book is primarily about Elizabeth *before* she became Queen.
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