Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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
About the Author
Benton Rain Patterson is a former newspaper and magazine writer and editor. He has worked for The New York Times and the Saturday Evening Post. He is the author of Harold and William: The Battle for England, 1064-1066; Washington and Cornwallis: The Battle for America, 1775-1783; and The Generals: Andrew Jackson, Sir Edward Pakenham, and the Road to the Battle of New Orleans.