About Elizabeth I
It is 1588, and the showdown between England and Spain has finally come. Elizabeth and her island kingdom stand alone against the strongest country in Europe. Yet after that triumph, she cannot rest. There are many other challenges to her, and the ever-hanging question of the succession to the childless queen. Surrounded by such larger-than-life characters as Drake, Shakespeare, the Earl of Essex, Raleigh, and Francis Bacon, the queen proves bigger than all of them.
Her cousin and rival, Lettice Knollys, mother of the Earl of Essex and widow of Robert Dudley, who was Elizabeth’s love and soul mate, provides a dark counterpoint to the glittering aura of Elizabeth’s legend. Bound together in a love-hate relationship, the two women pursue their linked destinies.
Read an excerpt!
The whip cracked and snapped as it sought its victim.
I could see the groom cowering in the bushes, then crawling away in the underbrush as the whip ripped leaves off a branch just over his head. A stream of Spanish followed him, words to the effect that he was a worthless wretch. Then the face of the persecutor turned toward me, shining with his effort. “Your Majesty,” he said, “why do you keep my whip?”
It was a face I had thought never to see again—that of Don Bernardino de Mendoza, the Spanish ambassador I had evicted from England four years earlier for spying. Now he rounded on me and began fingering his whip as he walked toward me.
I sat up in bed. I could still smell the leather of the whip, lingering in the air where it had cracked. And that smirk on the face of Mendoza, his teeth bared like yellowed carved ivory—I shuddered at its cold rictus.
It was only a dream. I shook my head to clear it. The Spanish were much on my mind, that was all. But . . . didn’t Mendoza actually leave me a whip? Or did we just find one in his rooms after he hurriedly left? I had it somewhere. It was smaller than the one in the dream, useful only for urging
horses, not punishing horse grooms. It had been black, and braided, and supple as a cat’s tail. Spain’s leather was renowned for its softness and strength. Perhaps that was why I had kept it.
It was not light out yet. Too early to arise. I would keep my own counsel here in bed. Doubtless devout Catholics—secretly here in England, openly in Europe—were already at early Mass. Some Protestants were most likely up and studying Scripture. But I, their reluctant figurehead, would commune with the Lord by myself.
I, Elizabeth Tudor, Queen of England for thirty years, had been cast by my birth into the role of defender of the Protestant faith. Spiteful people said, “Henry VIII broke with the pope and founded his own church only so he could get his way with Anne Boleyn.” My father had given them grounds with his flip quote “If the pope excommunicates me, I’ll declare him a heretic and do as I please.” Thus the King’s Conscience had become a joke. But out of it had come the necessity of embracing Protestantism, and from that had grown a national church that now had its own character, its own martyrs and theology. To the old Catholic Church, I was a bastard and usurper queen; thus I say that my birth imposed Protestantism upon me.
Why must England, a poor country, be stuck with subsidizing three others—the French, the Dutch, the Scots—and facing Spain, the Goliath champion of Catholicism? God’s teeth, wasn’t it enough for me to defend and manage my own realm? The role was a sponge that soaked up our resources and was driving us slowly but inexorably toward bankruptcy. To be the soldier of God was an expense I could have done without.
Soldier. God must be laughing, to have handed me his banner to carry, when all the world knew—or thought it did—that a woman could never lead troops into battle.
Excerpt taken from Pump Up Your Books Website You can also read more about Margaret George and follow the virtual tour of the book.
I was so excited when I saw that Elizabeth I by Margaret George was going to be sponsored by Pump Up Your Books for review. Then the book came, 8 1/2 x 11 and 671 pages of a bound galley. Needless to say I felt a bit daunted with the size of the galley. I decided to tackle it right away as I knew that with life getting in the way and other books to review that this would be a challenge. I set myself a goal of trying to read at least 25-50 pages a day. I didn’t read every day of course but I did pretty well, only drawback was that I had to sit at the kitchen table and read it as this was the only comfortable place to read a book this size for me. (The finished hardcover is a bit easier to handle)
Now about the book, the story is told in two different voices, Elizabeth I and Lettice Knollys. Unlike other historical books about this great Queen, this one starts when Elizabeth is 55 years old and in her 30th year as Queen of England. Most of us know who Elizabeth’s parents were and how Elizabeth came to the throne, what a lot of us didn’t know was the relationship between Elizabeth and Lettice. Lettice was grandniece of Anne Boleyn and she and Elizabeth were very close since childhood. When Lettice married Robert Dudley Elizabeth was enraged and from then on the two of them were bitter enemies and Lettice was banished from court.
This story told of Spain’s quest to take control of England and Elizabeth. The Armada was defeated but they still continued to try to take England as their own. Another historical figure that was a large part of the story was the illegitimate son of Robert Dudley, who played a major role in having plotted to have Elizabeth removed from the throne and as a result he was executed. There is a lot more to the story of course but I do not want to say anymore..you have absolutely got to read this book if you are an English history buff, or love the Tudors, or both…this is the book for you. Margaret George does a wonderful job of telling this awesome story, and her knowledge of history and her research are impeccable. She is the author of The Autobiography of Henry VIII, , Mary Queen of Scotland & The Isles to name a few..after reading this book I know I will be reading more by Margaret George.
I received this book from Pump Up Your Books and was not monetarily compensated for my review.