Synopses & Reviews
A new portrait that casts the queen as she saw herself: not as an exceptional woman, but as an exceptional ruler
Queen Elizabeth I was all too happy to play on courtly conventions of gender when it suited her andldquo;weak and feeble womanandrsquo;s bodyandrdquo; to do so for political gain. But inand#160;Elizabeth, historian Lisa Hilton offers ample evidence why those famous words should not be taken at face value. With new research out of France, Italy, Russia, and Turkey, Hiltonandrsquo;s fresh interpretation is of a queen who saw herself primarily as a Renaissance prince and used Machiavellian statecraft to secure that position.and#160;and#160;A decade since the last major biography, this Elizabeth breaks new ground and depicts a queen who was much less constrained by her femininity than most treatments claim. For readers of David Starkey and Alison Weir, it will provide a new, complex perspective on Elizabethandrsquo;s emotional and sexual life. and#160;Itandrsquo;s a fascinating journey that shows how a marginalized newly crowned queen, whose European contemporaries considered her to be the illegitimate ruler of a pariah nation, ultimately adapted to become Englandandrsquo;s first recognizably modern head of state.
"British novelist and historian Hilton (The Horror of Love) argues that Queen Elizabeth I's virginity is the least interesting fact about her, and that her intellect matters far more. According to Hilton, Elizabeth consciously melded both her feminine and masculine qualities into an enormously successful example of an effective and often Machiavellian Renaissance 'prince.' In Hilton's account, Elizabeth loses much of her famed temper; the Tudor royal's occasional tantrums are recast as part of a calculated and long-reaching plan. While Elizabeth certainly took the long view, it's still unlikely that her rages were actually all strategy. But as part statesman, part coquette, and sometime arms dealer to the East, Elizabeth ably channeled her assets of wise counsel, oratorical skill, strong will, and diplomatic nous to strengthen her contested claim to the throne. In addition to providing ample context for Elizabeth's high-stakes decisions, Hilton also describes the nuances of Protestant sects and the ever-shifting relationships between the contemporary European monarchs that required England's full attention. In this focused, well-researched biography, Hilton transforms an irreverent, centuries-old vision of a 'bewigged farthingale with a mysterious sex life' into a resolute, steel-spined survivor who far surpassed Henry VII's wildest hopes for his new dynasty." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
andquot;There is no shortage of biographies of Britainand#39;s Elizabeth I (1533-1603), but readers should pay attention to this thoughtful, often ingenious account. British novelist and historian Hilton (Wolves in Winter, 2012, etc.) agrees that Elizabeth stood out because she was a woman, but she claims that biographers often focus on her femininity to the exclusion of qualities shared by fellow rulers. Elizabethand#39;s intellectual upbringing andquot;gave her a princely self-image not in the least circumscribed by femininity.andquot; She referred to herself as andquot; andlsquo;a prince from a line of princes,and#39; even when those princes were not necessarily male.andquot; Hilton emphasizes that the 16th century marked the end of the medieval concept of andquot;chivalric kingship,andquot; which taught that rulers governed according to Christian tenets. When they lied, cheated, or murdered, this was shameful. A Renaissance prince, besides being more educated, understood that in the service of preserving the state, immoral actions were not only essential, but ethical. This was reflected, of course, in Machiavelliand#39;s The Prince (first distributed in 1513 but not published until 1532), which was universally read, denounced, and heeded, most skillfully by Elizabeth. With regular nods to Machiavelli, Hilton delivers an enthralling account of a life and reign during which Elizabeth dealt with murderous rival claimants and fended off superpower Spain, a fiercely hostile Papacy, and an increasingly intolerant, stingy Parliament. She was lucky and charismatic, chose competent advisers, never forgot the limitations of her power, and left England far more united and self-confident. Despite this, it took 20 years of experience of her successor, James I, before Britons wistfully realized that Elizabeth had presided over a golden age, an opinion Hilton does not reject. Mildly revisionist, well-argued, and thoroughly satisfying.andquot;--Kirkus, STARRED review
An historian offers a new portrait of an subject of perennial fascination, Elizabeth I, casting the queen as she saw herself: not as an exceptional woman, but as an exceptional ruler.
About the Author
LISA HILTON is the acclaimed author of The Real Queen of France: Athandeacute;nais and Louis XIV, Mistress Peachumandrsquo;s Pleasure, Queens Consort: Englandandrsquo;s Medieval Queens and The Horror of Love. She is the author of two novels, the best-selling Wolves in Winter and The House with Blue Shutters, which was shortlisted in the UK for the Commonwealth Fiction prize.