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The Life of Elizabeth I by Alison Weir
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The Life of Elizabeth I (1998)

by Alison Weir

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,196374,265 (4.05)63
  1. 10
    Elizabeth: A Biography of Britain's Queen by Sarah Bradford (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: These two biographies of both of Great Britain's Queen Elizabeths are full of political and personal detail. This combination of historical insight and family drama renders both books engaging reads.
  2. 21
    Elizabeth I: A Feminist Perspective (Berg Women's Series) by Susan Bassnett (mcalister)
  3. 00
    The First Elizabeth by Carolly Erickson (AnnaClaire)
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» See also 63 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
I read this again? What was I thinking?

This was tedious..... I swear Weir is redundant, over & over & over & over the same event...

You can beat a dead horse all you want, but it's just not going to get up & pull your wagon ever again...

I'm thinking this was rather written as a time line, because I was reading all about the Deceits of Mary Stuart and then all of a sudden there are 3-4 other chapters about whatever-it-was.... I think it was marriage plans (again) to d'Anjou.... or some such French Royal son of deMedici, but then changed to his younger brother Alençon... and then back to Mary Stuart (who was a total whack-job)

All the details, minute, important, unimportant..... So where I had originally given this 4 stars, well too bad, so sad, it now has 2.

I realize that Elizabeth had a btch of a difficult childhood & an even more hellacious time when her sister was queen.... But her constant neediness, jealousy, selfishness, prevarication & how she treated those people close to her when they disagreed with her (especially when they were right & just)....

In my belief she was psychologically way past disturbed (narcissistic), but not in comparison to her father or sister.... I do not understand how many times she allowed certain people to betray her before she finally put an end to the betrayals. How she could blame & turn against, those proving just & fair dealings while protecting her...

I will say, as a ruler she did her best for England and her people....

The book was 400+ pages and it felt as if I was reading 365 days x 45 years of information....

I'm still a bit dazed & confused & need to clear my head after this one.... and again, I'm not sure how I could have possibly forgotten I'd already read this... but it had a nice cover picture & in the portrait of her coronation, she looks exactly like her father... ( )
  Auntie-Nanuuq | Jul 29, 2018 |
I really enjoyed reading this biography. Elizabeth was a fascinating woman, and the author does a good job with her very complex story. ( )
  3wheeledlibrarian | Jun 12, 2018 |
Alison Weir once again confirms her talents as a historian with this thorough biography of Elizabeth I of England.

The author covered Elizabeth's pre-queen years in "Children of England: The Heirs of King Henry VIII". She summarises relevant sections from that period but focuses on the time from when Elizabeth took the crown in 1558 through till her death in 1603.

Certain themes, especially marriage, do grow a little repetitive, but then this is an author who leaves no stone unturned.

All my fellow Englishmen and women should be grateful to our former sovereign for inspiring our ancestors on more than one occasion to keep the country safe. The Spanish Armarda of 1588 being the most obvious case.

An engaging read. ( )
  PhilSyphe | Feb 5, 2017 |
The Life of Elizabeth I, Alison Weir, 1998

It's interesting to read the many other reviews of this book and see that, while a very few thought it deficient, the overall rating is still 4-stars.

My take is that Alison Weir concentrated on Elizabeth and minimized (but could not eliminate) politics. This book is a description of a) the day to day life of the queen---what she wore, what she ate, with whom she interacted and how she dealt with him/her, how she felt about life, etc.; b) how she managed not to marry (it's not like there were many options within Europe at that time: France? Spain? Austria? Sweden?); c) her struggles with health issues; d) her struggles with the threat of assassination.

This books provides a fascinating view of Elizabethan life, so much so that it completely eradicated my romantic image of life at this time: it was considered unhealthy to bath more than two or three times a year, Elizabeth devoured sweets and tarts in order to keep her breath fresh, the plague was a regular summer occurrence, meat was not a dietary staple for any but the nobility, and "nobility" depended on how well you "sucked up" to the queen.

To say Elizabeth was "well educated" would be to put it mildly. She spoke Latin, French, Spanish, German, Dutch, Greek (or maybe she only read Greek? I don't remember) and was well informed about the religious and philosophical trends throughout Europe. She also played several instruments, wrote songs and sung and did excellent needle-point (she was, after all, a woman). In the opinion of European nobility, her one major flaw was that she was a woman. One can appreciate that, with her many weaknesses, how much strength she had to manifest in order to maintain her command over the loyalty of the courtiers and the general population—and to keep the Spanish and French from deciding she was incompetent and should be forcefully replaced.

And yes, Elizabeth was vain, imperious, flirtatious, jealous, hesitant, fearful, overly trustful, and manifested a host of other more minor faults. (It's sad that she threw the man who invented the indoor toilet into jail for a perceived slight.) But her real strength lay in her "will". When she settled on a course of action she was rarely swayed from that course. She knew that getting married and producing an heir was the right thing to do, but also knew that a) any man she married would then have complete control over her and her country; b) there was no available man she could trust with that kind of power; c) she believed her independence and power—and very life—were worth more than the question-mark of an heir.

It's these little asides that intrigued me most. And there's no ignoring that this book is the script for a multi-year soap opera. It's an "upstairs/downstairs" situation…you have the secret backdoor activities of the lower nobility and the Machiavellian machinations of the higher nobility---who married who, who denied marrying who, who got who pregnant, who tried to prove who was married when he/she was born, which of the eligible monarchs was a literal idiot, a transvestite, an ugly crook-back, a simpleton. (It did get tiring after half the book—and there certainly was no room for learning about the life of the peasants.)

Realistically speaking, the action could not easily be covered chronologically because it would have been way more confusing to try to keep the names straight from one section of the story to the next. Consider that, as each court favorite was granted more lands and promoted in nobility he received a new title and a new name; and every time a lady married she also received a new title and a new name; and every time someone got married it was kept secret from the queen. My vote is to cover the action as Weir did, by rehearsing someone's long term contributions at one time and then moving on. If that person is mentioned again, at least I now understand something of his/her position/importance in the greater picture.

Now I need to read "The Children of Henry VIII" in order to see what rigors Elizabeth experienced as a child that could produce such a strong will and overriding need to never allow herself to be subordinate to any man or woman ever again. ( )
  majackson | May 31, 2016 |
A superb recounting of the life of one of England's most famous monarchs, Elizabeth I. Alison Weir deftly navigates us through the turmoils of Elizabeth's reign: namely her fight to keep her throne and the ever present topic of marriage. Her dealings with the Spanish were at the forefront of her life. Some of the politics of the day can get a bit boring to read, but the reader is much rewarded by the excellence of the narrative and Weir's expertise in Tudor history. ( )
  briandrewz | May 5, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Weir, Alisonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Porter, DavinaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
This book is dedicated to my very supportive aunt and uncle, Pauline and John Marston.
And also to my equally supportive brothers and sisters-in-law, Roland and Alison Weir
and
Kenneth and Elizabeth Weir.
With grateful thanks to all.
First words
Author's Preface
The Life of Elizabeth I is the third volume in my series of books on the Tudor monarchs. Having chronicled Elizabeth Tudor's childhood in The Six Wives of Henry VIII, I found the prospect of writing about her life as Queen of England irresistible.
Prologue: 17 November 1558
Between eleven and twelve o'clock on the morning of 17 November 1558, large crowds gathered outside the Palace of Westminster and at other places in London. Presently, heralds appeared, announced the death, earlier that morning, of Mary I, and proclaimed her half-sister Elizabeth Queen of England. Even as they spoke, the Lord Chancellor Nicholas Heath, Archbishop of York, was announcing the new monarch's accession to the House of Lords.
Introduction
Elizabeth's England

Mary Tudor, the first female English monarch, had reigned for five unhappy years. The daughter of Henry VIII by his first wife, Katherine of Aragon, she had suffered a miserable youth as a result of her father's treatment of her mother, whose marriage had been annulled so that Henry could marry her lady in waiting, Anne Boleyn. A fervent Catholic, Mary had also been appalled by her father's break with Rome and later by the establishment of the Protestant faith in England by her brother, Edward VI, Henry's child by his third wife, Jane Seymour, whom he had married after Anne Boleyn was beheaded for treason.
I
'The Most English Woman in England"
The first act of Queen Elizabeth had been to give thanks to God for her peaceful accession to the throne and, as she later told the Spanish ambassador, to ask Him 'that He would give her grace to govern with clemency and without bloodshed'. With the calamitous example of her sister before her, she had already decided that there should be no foreign interference in the government of England, not from Spain or Rome or anywhere else, and was resolved to be herself a focus for English nationalism — 'the most English woman in England'.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345425502, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:49 -0400)

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Presents an exhaustively researched biography that reveals the personality, private life, and romantic intrigues of Elizabeth I.

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