Read The Life of Elizabeth I by Alison Weir Online


NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERPerhaps the most influential sovereign England has ever known, Queen Elizabeth I remained an extremely private person throughout her reign, keeping her own counsel and sharing secrets with no one--not even her closest, most trusted advisers. Now, in this brilliantly researched, fascinating new book, acclaimed biographer Alison Weir shares provocatiNEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERPerhaps the most influential sovereign England has ever known, Queen Elizabeth I remained an extremely private person throughout her reign, keeping her own counsel and sharing secrets with no one--not even her closest, most trusted advisers. Now, in this brilliantly researched, fascinating new book, acclaimed biographer Alison Weir shares provocative new interpretations and fresh insights on this enigmatic figure.Against a lavish backdrop of pageantry and passion, intrigue and war, Weir dispels the myths surrounding Elizabeth I and examines the contradictions of her character. Elizabeth I loved the Earl of Leicester, but did she conspire to murder his wife? She called herself the Virgin Queen, but how chaste was she through dozens of liaisons? She never married—was her choice to remain single tied to the chilling fate of her mother, Anne Boleyn? An enthralling epic that is also an amazingly intimate portrait, The Life of Elizabeth I is a mesmerizing, stunning reading experience.From the Trade Paperback edition....

Title : The Life of Elizabeth I
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ISBN : 18623010
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Number of Pages : 562 Pages
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The Life of Elizabeth I Reviews

  • Diane
    2019-05-23 16:58

    Quick question: Who is your favorite English queen?I'm torn between Victoria and Elizabeth I. Both women are fascinating, they lived during interesting periods of history, and they had relatively long reigns. Previously I'd read a huge biography on Victoria (A. N. Wilson's Victoria: A Life), and I thought Miss Elizabeth deserved the same consideration, so I picked up this 500-page tome from Alison Weir.My aim has always been to write a history of Elizabeth's personal life within the framework of her reign, drawing on her own extensive literary remains, as well as those of her contemporaries. The manuscript was originally entitled The Private Life of Elizabeth I, but it very soon became apparent that Elizabeth's "private" life was a very public one indeed, hence the change of title. Nor is it possible to write a personal history of her without encompassing the political and social events that made up the fabric of her life. What I have tried to do, therefore, is weave into the narrative enough about them to make sense of the story, and emphasise Elizabeth's reaction to them, showing how she influenced the history of her time. — from the Author's PrefaceThis was the first biography of Queen Elizabeth I've read, and it was a lucky choice because it was highly readable and contained fascinating stories from her life in the sixteenth century. One of the topics that interested me most was the discussion on why the "Virgin Queen" chose to never marry. The author mentions various theories, but the one that seems most reasonable is based on Elizabeth's fears, both of giving up control to a husband and of the dangers of childbirth. Elizabeth's mother, Anne Boleyn, had been beheaded when the poor child was not yet 3, and Elizabeth knew it was at the behest of her father, King Henry VIII. Additionally, it was not uncommon that a woman would die in childbirth back then — I think the statistic at the time was something like 1 in 40 women died in such a way — and Elizabeth didn't want to risk it. Of course, avoiding marriage didn't mean the queen avoided romance and courtship, both of which she seemed to enjoy.This was also my first Alison Weir book, and I hadn't realized how prolific the author was until I looked up her profile on Goodreads. Wow, I could do nothing for the rest of the year but read her books, and I doubt I would ever get bored or run out of titles. I listened to The Life of Elizabeth I on audio, and it was an enjoyable experience, even if the length of the book did feel a bit overwhelming at times. Highly recommended for those interested in reading more about this great Tudor monarch.Admirable QuotesLike most educated gentlewomen of her day, Elizabeth was encouraged to become the equal of men in learning and to outdo 'the vaunted paragons of Greece and Rome'. The curriculum devised for her was punishing by today's standards, but she thrived on intellectual exercises and had a particular gift for languages, which she enjoyed showing off. As queen, she read and conversed fluently in Latin, French, Greek, Spanish, Italian and Welsh ... Her interest in philosophy and history was enduring, and throughout her life she would try to set aside three hours each day to read historical books.Lord Burghley had said of her, 'She was the wisest woman that ever was, for she understood the interests and dispositions of all the princes in her time, and was so perfect in the knowledge of her own realm, that no councillor she had could tell her anything she did not know before.'Meaningful PassageFor forty-five years, 'though beset by divers[e] nations', Elizabeth had given her country peace and stable government — her greatest gift to her people. During that time, England had risen from an impoverished nation to become one of the greatest powers in Europe. Bolstered by the fame of her seamen, her navy was respected and feared on the high seas, and not for nothing had Elizabeth been lauded as 'the Queen of the Sea, the North Star'. The Queen had also brought unity to her people by effecting a religious compromise that has lasted until this day, and making herself an enduring focus for their loyalty. She had enjoyed a unique relationship with her subjects, which was never seen before and has never been seen since. Few queens have ever been so loved. Under her rule, her people grew ever more confident in the belief that they were a chosen nation, protected by Divine Providence, and this confidence gave rise, in the years after the Armada, to the flowering of the English Renaissance.

  • Madeline
    2019-05-12 13:05

    Interestingly, this is the first time I've read a history book that's just about Elizabeth. Considering how much I've already read about her parents and their lives, I thought it was weird that I didn't actually know that much about Elizabeth's life after her parents died. This was a really good place to start.Alison Weir is probably my favorite historian - she doesn't make as many easily-disputable claims in her books, like Antonia Fraser, and her writing has clarity and a nice humorous touch that appears every so often. She also writes about these people and their lives like she was there the whole time. Do you know what the weather in London was like on the day Elizabeth was crowned? Alison Weir does. It's details like that that made me give this book five stars. For example, take this passage on Elizabeth's clothing:"Elizabeth I's wardrobe, which was rumored to contain more than three thousand gowns, became legendary during her lifetime, as her costumes grew even more flamboyant and fantastic....The Queen's portraits invariably show her in dresses of silk, velvet, taffeta, or cloth of gold, encrusted with real gems, countless pearls and sumptuous embroidery in silver or gold thread whilst her starched ruffs and stiff gauze collars grew even larger. Her favored colours were black, white, and silver, worn with transparent silver veils. Many gowns were embroidered with symbols and emblems such as roses, suns, rainbows, monsters, spiders, ears of wheat, mulberries, pomegranates or pansies, the flowers she loved best." Damn. My favorite part of the book is actually at the very end, and isn't even technically part of the book at all - think of it as a bonus track. After the epilogue and the eighteen-page bibliography and the three genealogical tables, Weir adds a delightfully spiteful article she wrote on movies about Elizabeth: which ones take the material seriously and still manage to be entertaining, and which ones make her want to tear her hair out. In case you're wondering, Weir likes the BBC miniseries with Helen Mirren as Elizabeth (I heartily agree), and she spits on anything with Cate Blanchett in it. Elizabeth "contained so many inaccuracies it would be impossible to list them all" (but she does anyway) and The Golden Age "is another historical travesty, made with only the sketchiest regard for the facts and little understanding of the period." I wonder if Alison Weir has ever watched that HBO series, The Tudors. Probably not. She'd probably throw something at the television five minutes into the first episode. I would pay to be able to watch something like that with Alison Weir. It'd be almost as fun as watching New Moon with Sherman Alexie.

  • Chrissie
    2019-05-17 13:44

    OK, here is my advice: if you want to read about the Tudors read this author; read Alison Weir. Read her non-fiction books. They are better than her books of fiction. Weir manages to make all the facts interesting. She is clear and she knows how to tell the story so it reads as fiction, but every little detail is 100% true! You have surely met people who REALLY know their subject; their knowledge enables them to have every fact at their fingertips. They know all the amusing details too. Alison Weir is one such person. Furthermore I highly recommend the audiobook narration by Davina Porter. The narration was delightful. I never felt I was listening to a stuffy proper English matron. The quotes are not only perfectly woven into the text by the author but also perfectly intoned by the narrator. The quotes of Elizabeth are both wise and beautifully expressed. I loved the book for the quotes. And boy do I admire Elizabeth I. Talk about a strong woman.... who had a miserable childhood, and really made something of herself! There are so many books written about the Tudor era. In this one book you get all those other stories clearly, succinctly told. In a fashion that reads as fiction. I am a beginner on the theme of Tudor history. I believe that the more you know the more you will appreciate this book. I gave the book four stars because I really liked it.That is what four stars is supposed to mean. It is that simple. I believe that if I were more knowledgeable I would have given it five stars. (If you start knowing a lot you can stuff even more into your head…..) I do not mean that to appreciate this book you must have previously read on the topic. No, the opposite is true. This is a wonderful place to start. Why? Because Alison Weir makes Elizabeth's life so darn interesting. You come to know the people, inside and out. You come to care for them. All the men, all the suitors! Poor, poor Elizabeth; she spent all her life with everyone trying to get her to wed someone! She outwitted them all! She was a marvelous person, a strong person and she did this all alone, albeit with great advisors which she had the talent and wisdom to pick. What a leader!

  • Manuel
    2019-04-30 13:00

    Talk about having a disfunctional family.Your Dad marries your Mom when he's still technically married to his first wife. No matter; your Dad is the King of England. Your Dad gets bored with your Mom and she looses her head (literally). You then go from princess to bastard and get sent away until your Dad likes you again. Your Dad remarries, and yet again a few more times. You cant help feeling a little insecure in such an unstable enviroment. You grow up loved and then hated then loved again. Your younger brother becomes King and he has a few ideas of his own about how you are supposed to pray to God. Your elder sister gets her turn being Queen and she isnt too keen on you or your religion either.Finally at last you get your turn at the helm and much to everyone's surprise and joy, you actually do a pretty good job. Just watch out for all those suitors asking for your hand or that nasty Spanish Armada coming your direction and how about that pesky Scotish Catholic Queen and cousin. She came for a visit and stayed twenty years, bad-mouthing you the entire time. Such is the exciting life of Elizabeth Tudor; Queen of England for 43 years.

  • Beth F.
    2019-05-18 16:02

    I don't like nonfiction as a rule. But this was one of those rare nonfics that read like a piece of fiction and even though the book is a brick, I read the whole thing in under four days. It kept my attention from start to finish. The medieval history of the English monarchy is interesting but not a subject I read about frequently. Alison Weir (whose name I always spell weird and have to edit) is deserving of the acclaim she has earned to date because she provides information AND entertains. Most nonfiction authors don't have that magical ability. I look forward to reading more from this author.

  • Mahlon
    2019-05-11 21:00

    Probably still the best Biography of Elizabeth, despite the 17 years since it's publication. Weir at the top of her game. A must read for anyone interested in the Tudors. The book that ignited my love of the history of the English Monarchy.

  • Pete daPixie
    2019-04-26 15:45

    Just superb. As a long standing Elizabethan, reading this book has been a joy. Without a shadow of a doubt, the greatest English monarch and Alison Weir guides us through this golden time from under the oak tree at Hatfield Palace in 1558, to her passing at Richmond in 1603.The level of research of contemporary documents, state papers and the almost twenty pages of bibliography provide a most intimate and extraordinary insight into the reign of good Queen Bess. The author provides no Notes, but I didn't find that detracted at all from this biography. The detail is such, with each page containing quotations and original letters that 'Elizabeth the Queen' takes the reader back over four hundred years into her public and private life. Published back in 1998, I just wonder why it has taken me so long to finally read this book.N.B. Certainly not averse to a good conspiracy theory, and there are many from the sixteenth century, I notice that a certain American writer of fiction, Steve Berry has just had published by Hodder, a book entitled 'The King's Deception'. He purports that Elizabeth died c1543 and was replaced by a ten year old boy, who then performed a drag act for the next sixty years, unknown to the world. Please Mr Berry, stay over your side of the Atlantic where there are far more plausible conspiracy theories to be pursued.

  • Mike Robbins
    2019-05-25 15:05

    Alison Weir’s magisterial biography of Elizabeth I left me with mixed feelings. It is an extraordinary work, and a treasure-trove for those who want to know what Elizabeth was truly like. What it does not show the reader is the country she ruled. But perhaps it was never meant to, and for anyone drawn to Elizabeth as an individual, it is essential reading – meticulous in its research, and very well written.Weir gives us a splendid picture of the Queen as she navigated the shoals of potential marriage alliances, plots against her and rivalries at Court. The challenges that faced her when she came to the throne are well known; the country was riven by religious strife that had been provoked in large part by her father, and her siblings, Edward VI and Mary, had failed to heal these rifts. That Elizabeth would to a limited extent do so, at least for the duration of her reign, was to be one of her greatest achievements. Weir allows us to see the shrewdness and caution that brought this about. She is good, too, on the marriage negotiations that the Queen pursued for many years. I had always assumed that Elizabeth never meant to get married and that this diplomatic dance was only to leave both France and the Hapsburgs hoping for a marriage alliance, so that neither would become her enemy in the interim. In fact, Weir’s detailed account suggests that Elizabeth really did consider a diplomatic marriage, albeit reluctantly. As to the various plots that were made against her, Weir writes particularly well of the relationships with Mary Queen of Scots and Essex, and the fate that befell these two rather foolish people – a fate that Elizabeth would clearly have spared them, had they but given her the slightest excuse for mercy.There are one or two ways in which this book could have held my attention even more closely than it did. Weir says little about the mental scars that Elizabeth must have borne from the fact that her father had her mother beheaded. On the other hand, Elizabeth was so reticent about this in her lifetime that there is little to go on, and anything that Weir said would perhaps have been speculation – something that she in general avoids. Also, there is a large cast of characters at Court, and enormous detail of the Queen’s correspondence; and at times this drowns out the personalities that mattered. In particular, although Dudley, Mary Queen of Scots and Essex do leap off the page, Burghley somehow does not, a pity in view of his crucial role in the reign. (Though Weir does finger him for the murder of Amy Dudley – that actually is speculation; but it is most intriguing.) At times I felt I might have preferred to learn more about fewer characters.More seriously, quite near the end of the book, we hear of the famines that plagued England for some years towards the end of Elizabeth’s life, of the effects of the Enclosures, and of the large growth in population. I thought Weir might have made more of this, and of the cultural and maritime achievements that marked this outstanding reign. I suppose one could argue that that was simply not the intention of the book; that its focus was always meant to be Elizabeth and not the England that she ruled. Yet I should have liked to read less of the interminable marriage negotiations – after all, we know from the beginning that they came to naught – and more of the extraordinary England of Elizabeth that still dazzles us today.The fact remains that this book is a wonderful work of scholarship. It is also well-written; the chapters on the death of Dudley’s wife, the end of Mary Queen of Scots and the end of Essex are especially vibrant. Besides, if one wants social history, one can I am sure find it elsewhere. For those – and there are many – who are fascinated by Elizabeth herself, this book is indispensable.

  • Anna
    2019-05-20 19:04

    I find I really enjoy Alison Weir's style of writing history and biography: easy to follow and detailed/descriptive without becoming dry. I picked up this book because there are certain historical personages that I know a lot about yet can never resist reading about over and over again, Elizabeth I being one of them. While I am not an über history buff who checks and cross-checks the list of sources, I found that her biography of Elizabeth I was entertaining and factual as far as I can tell - what I read matched up with everything I knew about Elizabeth previously, and was told in a new style that I found refreshing. Personally, I like reading historical biographies to become immersed in getting to know a great and important person, even at a basic level. Alison Weir provided me with that, and although I have other Elizabeth I tbr-s on my list, I quite loved this one.

  • Rio (Lynne)
    2019-05-01 14:48

    3.75 Stars. At times I was annoyed with "what if's and opinions" being written as facts. A good biography or non-fiction book should show both sides or "who knows what she really was thinking" but not "here is what she was thinking" or the author quoting her opinion of Elizabeth being silly over the marriage thing and saying "what was wrong with her?" I believe Elizabeth was brilliant in playing the marriage game, not a needy, I need a man, my womb hurts from not having a child, weeping kind of woman. I'm not saying she didn't want to be loved or have children, but,, I don't see it. After we got through that part of the book, it got interesting. Elizabeth led an incredible life and ruled against the odds as not just a woman, but a Protestant. In today's world, how far have we come? Many give her credit where credit is due, many still say it was just the men in her realm. Sad.

  • Breezy
    2019-05-09 16:01

    I absolutely LOVE this book! I think that Weir gives a very refreshing view of Elizabeth and her motives. Compared with David Starkey's "Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne", I would choose Weir hands down. While Starkey writes with a pompous style that seems to scream "I am the one and only expert on all things about Tudor England", Weir comes straight out and says that, aside from predetermined fact, she offers theories about what may have happened. Also, I may be naive, but I like the fact that Weir says that Elizabeth was most likely a technical virgin. I honestly believe that she knew that she would have relenquished a lot of her power if she became somebody's (namely Dudley's) mistress. She would have known that once she gave in to a man's advances, he would have had power over her, and she wanted to hold all of the cards (as confirmed in her refusal to marry). I emphatically reccommend this book to anybody who enjoys biographies of historical figures.

  • Jennifer
    2019-05-19 17:08

    The cover boasts this book as a member of the New York Times best seller club. I question how many of the book's purchasers actually read the book in its entirety. I spent months reading the book due to other obligations consuming my time and my inability to keep up with the name changes. A character map would have greatly helped me keep up with who the Duke of ___ and Lord __ were in 1540 compared to different men with the same names in 1585. How many different titles/names did Robert Dudley have? Overall, I enjoyed Wier's account of Elizabeth's life, and I would like to read an actual personal journal kept by Elizabeth herself, if such a document existed.

  • Harold Titus
    2019-05-20 20:09

    "Elizabeth the Queen" is a lengthy biography meticulously written by Alison Weir. It is a detailed portrayal of a remarkable queen whose reign spanned nearly 45 years (1558 to 1603). The author succeeds in conveying the uniqueness of the monarch, the dangers -- foreign and domestic -- that she consistently confronted, the grandeur and extravagance of the royal court, the connivances of courtiers, the jealousies of competing counselors, Elizabeth’s unwavering affection for her subjects, and her people’s reciprocal devotion.Elizabeth was remarkably strong-willed. She had to be. Men of noble birth believed that queens, being women, were inferior decision-makers. Her advisors thought initially that they knew better how the country should be administered and protected. Exceedingly knowledgeable about her foreign adversaries (and just about everything scientific, cultural, religious, and historical), Elizabeth rarely acquiesced. She would delay taking any action she had misgivings about. Much of this biography chronicles how her equivocation about marrying foreign princes postponed King Philip II of Spain’s attempt to dethrone her with a Catholic monarch. Two tenets guided Elizabeth’s decision-making: her trust that God directed her and her desire to benefit her people.I was amazed at how forgiving Elizabeth was of certain individuals she favored. Although she could be very abusive verbally -- her displays of temper were legendary – her nature was not to be cruel. Virile courtiers took advantage of her. She loved masculine attention and flattery and reveled in the rituals of courtship. Two men stand out: Robert Dudley (eventually the Earl of Leicester) and Robert Devereux, the second Earl of Essex. Dudley had known Elizabeth before she became queen and was closer than any male to have been a lover. Well into the 1580s his ambition had been to marry her and become king. This motivation led him to take policy positions in the Privy Council more favorable to himself than to the welfare of the realm. Essex was much more dangerous. He was an egomaniac. Placed in government and, later, military positions of authority, obdurate and paranoid, he disobeyed repeatedly Elizabeth’s orders; yet, after her fits of rage, she succumbed always to his exhibitions of counterfeit remorse and devotion. Ultimately, she recognized the serious danger he posed to her sovereignty and stripped him of his powers. Determined to have his way, he staged a coup, failed, was convicted of treason, and was executed. Elizabeth’s tolerance of Mary Stuart’s machinations to become Queen of England impressed me. For years the former Scottish queen had been complicit in Spain’s, the Pope’s, and Catholic subjects’ plans to elevate her. Elizabeth knew about Mary’s participation, but resisted repeatedly her councilors’ admonitions to have Mary tried, convicted, and executed. Elizabeth believed absolutely that legitimately ascended monarchs should not be interfered with. Mary had been deposed. Executing such a monarch, however treacherous thereafter she had become, violated her sensibilities. Only when her life was seriously threatened and King Philip’s anticipated invasion of England seemed imminent did Elizabeth authorize Mary’s trial and execution.I was touched by Elizabeth’s emotional responses to her declining health during the last year of her reign. Most all of her friends and all of her old councilors had died. She felt alone amongst a younger generation of self-seekers that were weary and dismissive of her and eager for a male successor. She had struggled mightily to ward off the encroachments of old age and had failed. The onset of what was probably tonsillitis became either bronchitis or pneumonia. During her last hours she took comfort in the prayers delivered over her, she unable to speak, with each reference to God raising her eyes skyward.

  • Steven Peterson
    2019-05-07 13:03

    This is an absolutely wonderful biography of Queen Elizabeth I. The story begins with her uncertain childhood, following the death of her mother, Anne Boleyn, by order of her father Henry VIII. Her first passion is briefly told and her fears for her life as her sister, Mary, reigned. But it is really the tracing of the arc of her reign that is at the heart of this book. The volume weaves together Elizabeth's personal life, her court life, and the political context in which she operated. You need a scorecard to keep all the actors straight here! The book does a superb job describing the relationships of Elizabeth with intriguing people such as Mary, Queen of Scots (how Mary could have survived so long given her perpetual scheming to overthrow Elizabeth is stunning), Robert Dudley (Leicester), Robert Devereaux. Also well done is the tale of her on and off again courtships with foreign leaders, as she moved to (a) produce an heir, (b) create useful political alliances, and (c) retain her power. The latter, holding on to her power, always trumped the former. The story of her hot and cold linkage with Anjou is nicely done. Inherent in a work like this is the poignancy of the Queen and her leading advisors aging and dying. An important adjunct to reading is a set of genealogical tables at the end of the book. Keeping the players straight calls for some aid such as this! Overall, an exquisitely written book that brings the character of Elizabeth I to life. The amount of information available about the Queen allows for such a detailed book that the people and times seem to come to life. In the end, a book well worth looking at if interested in the times and the people. Highly recommended.

  • Pamela
    2019-04-29 13:57

    Weir’s account of QE1’s final days had me spilling tears. I hadn’t realized that I’d become so emotionally involved with her. The awful, and awesomeness, of her heroism during those final days seems a fitting coda to the awful, awesome, heroic life she led. Has there ever been a woman like her before or since? Would that our current political leaders had half the backbone and statesmanshipshe displayed.Forget the movies you’ve seen about this Queen and get stuck into a more source based account. Weir focuses less on political events and more on how Elizabeth I conducted her personal relationships in the public sphere - there being no such thing as privacy for a medieval monarch. We also get fascinating glimpses of the nuts and bolts of court life, the ambitions, griping, and jealousies of courtiers, the affairs and sex scandals, the intense religious animosities that gnawed away at the foundations of the State and kept the Queen on guard for her life, the relationships between the Queen and her subjects and how she managed to manipulate everyone to keep everything - court, country and herself - together.The irritations I experienced reading this biography had to do with all the repetitions. How many times can you tell the story of a woman entering courtships and negotiations for marriages she never intended to have? Bunches, apparently. A more rigorous approach to editing could have eliminated all the repetitions of phrases, quotations, and speculations of Elizabeth’s mindset that crop up in chapter after chapter. However, I did cry in the end.

  • Dana DesJardins
    2019-05-05 15:59

    While it is fascinating to learn that Elizabeth Regina had 3,000 dresses and new pairs of shoes made to order every week, I had thought that maybe it would be useful to know a bit about the political world she brought to abeyance during her forty-five year reign of relative peace. There is entirely too much back and forthing about how she kept suitors at bay and not nearly enough explanation of the geo-political context. Why weren't the English able to establish colonies in the Americas when Spain was? What were her relations with the Irish before the rebellion by Tyrone? How did she manage James, Mary's son? What were her feelings about the enclosure movement that forced London's population to double during her lifetime? And why is Shakespeare, and indeed all the other playwrights of what was the golden age not only of exploration by sea, but also by letters, mentioned only a few times?This biography is exhaustive in quoting primary sources and describing the queen's dresses (including one that revealed her entire nude torso to an ambassador when she was well into her sixties). However, in its treatment of anything but her personal relations with court favorites like Dudley and Essex, it is superficial. I was ongoingly disappointed not to have been better informed at the end of 500 pages.And why did Weir leave out key details about the defeat of the Spanish Armada?!

  • Rindis
    2019-05-21 21:09

    The Life of Elizabeth I by Alison Weir, is more 'the reign of Elizabeth I', in that it only gives the bare essentials of background before starting with when succeeds to the throne of England at the age of 25. However, Weir has covered the earlier parts of her live in other books, so there isn't much reason to go into it here.Past that, it is a biography, and good one too. Weir takes us on a tour of Elizabeth's life, and talks about her court, her politics, her intrigues, her courting.... Weir usually takes time out to discuss the general conditions of life in the era she's writing about, but this happens a little unexpectedly in two chapters in the middle of the book, instead of setting the scene at the beginning. There's a lot of talk about her court, and the people who populate it, and discussions of many of the stories that grew up around her reign. Generally what you expect from a good biography, and handled very well.In all, a good, entertaining book, and worth a read to anyone interested in Elizabeth I or the Elizabethan era in general.

  • 1CheekyLass
    2019-05-17 12:49

    Elizabeth is my absolutely favorite female monarch. It's such a shame that she didn't have kids to carry on her the Tudor line. This book is richly detailed in giving the reader an up close and personal view of the characters and their various personalities in addition to the historical detail of their surroundings. I love how smart, witty and forceful Elizabeth could be but on the other hand, she could be very vulnerable--a perfect balance for a queen IMO. The host of people throughout Elizabeth's life are also interesting; especially William Cecil! I love this book but I always hate to see (hear) it end. It's sad to see Elizabeth get older and eventually die. I've been known to cry during this portion but I didn't this time. Let's not even discuss Davina Porter and how AWESOME she is in this narration. She should be the narrator for every biography or historical book... she's simply amazing. I always enjoy revisiting this one yearly, sometimes multiple times a year. Long live Queen Elizabeth I!!!

  • Susan
    2019-05-04 14:48

    (Audiobook) — This biography concentrates on Queen Elizabeth's approximately 40 year reign, giving just a brief summary of her earlier life. And even so, there is a lot to cover in these 600+ pages, and some important topics, like the Spanish Armada, are discussed rather briefly. The book thoroughly covers Elizabeth's friendship/flirtation with the Earl of Leicester, the long saga of Mary, Queen of Scots, and Elizabeth’s negotiations for marriage with various foreign princes, which formed an important part of England’s foreign-policy and balancing act with European powers.Ms Weir excels at organizing and presenting her voluminous material and in painting vivid pictures of life at court. For example, she describes the annual summer progresses, putting them in context so the reader understands why they were important in keeping the Queen connected with the nobility and the public. She quotes liberally from contemporary sources, so the reader “hears” the voices of many of the Court figures, from the Spanish Ambassador to Queen Elizabeth to Sir Walter Raleigh to Mary, Queen of Scots. The audiobook is capably read by Davina Porter

  • Elena
    2019-05-07 17:00

    Borrowed from Open Library.Elizabeth I is one of those famous historical figures I knew only basic facts about, and really wanted to learn more. The Life of Elizabeth I was an excellent pick: I was amazed by Weir’s scrupulous account and I devoured every single page. It is my favourite Alison Weir book so far (or maybe tied with The Lady in the Tower).Elizabeth I had many good qualities as well as defects, and, if I have to find one complaint about Weir’s book, is that she tends to justify the queen in every occasion. However, her portrayal is still quite objective, and her personality well presented.Elizabeth was a complex individual. She was very vain, egocentric, capricious and quite ruthless in several occasions (see her treatment of the Grey sisters). However, I cannot help but admire her incredible cunning, her political acumen, and her ability as a manipulator. I was amazed to read about how she managed to convince all her advisers and foreign ambassadors that she was willing to marry, while she was not. Her behavior was extremely modern and daring, even more so if we compare it to those of other queens of the time which were in similar situations (see Mary I and Mary, Queen of Scots). She was also a charismatic leader, and a queen deeply devoted to her subjects. I warmly recommend Alison Weir’s wonderful biography. While full of details, it is also engaging and easy to read, and in the end you will know more not only about the main events which shaped Elizabeth I, but about the Virgin Queen herself as well.

  • Rebecca
    2019-05-11 17:44

    History is, without a doubt, my favorite nonfiction, and The Life of Elizabeth I has easily catapulted to a place in my top three. I read Weir's Six Wives of Henry VIII last year, which was very good, but this one captivated me from page 1. Partly because of the tight focus on one person rather than six (actually seven, counting Hank), but mostly because Elizabeth I was a hard-ass mf'er and all-around badass.Even at her most ridiculous, she was so much more grounded and responsible than her father. They both benefitted from excellent advisors, and they both suffered because they were susceptible to manipulative douches. But Elizabeth handled it all so much better: Henry is known for his executorial penchant, but Elizabeth had very few people put to death, and only after giving them, like, five million chances to forswear their treasonous ways. But they just couldn't not keep plotting to overthrow her. She forgave several people—Mary Stewart, Thomas Howard, and Robert Devereux—for plotting treason a whole bunch of times before finally losing patience. I found Devereux especially irritating (what a narcissist), especially compared to his dreamy stepfather, Robert Dudley, Elizabeth's steadfast soulmate. A romance for the ages. And the mystery surrounding the possible murder of Dudley's first wife, Amy, was full of suspense. Wish we could solve that one. The OG single lady, Elizabeth chose not to marry for political reasons. As long as she was eligible, she had a good excuse to maintain diplomacy with France and Spain. But, as a hard-ass mother, she would have been the last person to share her rulership with another person, let alone give control to a mentally unstable or decadent foreign man-child. Still, she seemed to enjoy her suitors for the most part—and the attention.Weir has a consistently good sense of structure and there were very few details that I found needless. I don't enjoy descriptions of clothes and tchotchkes, which were very important to Elizabeth, but I understand that many people do. I did like the description of one of her outfits, an extremely revealing dress that exposed her breasts and belly button, which she wore while meeting with a foreign ambassador. When she was in her 50s. Haha! What a character.Elizabeth was an excellent stateswoman and a courageous ruler. She wasn't a religious fanatic, evidenced by the fact that English Catholics remained strongly loyal to her, even though she forced them to attend Anglican services. She overcame a terrible childhood to become a gracious and compassionate person. She invested heavily in education and the arts, but always lived within her means. She had a great sense of humor and was a master of sarcasm, and the fact that she was so susceptible to handsome charmers just proves that she was a human. Mostly, she truly got her people, which is not something that can be said about most rulers, including the current Elizabeth.

  • Lukasz Pruski
    2019-05-03 21:05

    Not being qualified to provide a competent review of this history book I can only express my admiration for the amount of meticulous research that went into writing "Elizabeth the Queen" and congratulate Alison Weir on her dedication and literary talent. This is another monumental work, on par with "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" and "Children of England". The author used so many sources (the list spans 20 pages) that there are some periods in the Queen's reign that almost each day is documented, and we can try to reproduce the daily activities of Queen Elizabeth 450 or so years ago. Ms. Weir brilliantly captures Queen Elizabeth's fascinating character: her vanity, indecisiveness, and other weaknesses are perfectly balanced by her outstanding intellect, political astuteness, and her dedication to the kingdom and her subjects. The author shows how Elizabeth used procrastination, dissembling, and prevarication to further the cause of the country. The famous "marriage game" is a fascinating political tool yet, at the same time, it is almost painful to read about in the personal dimension.I am totally unqualified to pass judgment on Queen Elizabeth's accomplishments as a ruler (historians cannot agree whether she was a supremely gifted ruler or just a lucky one whose strings were pulled by people like Cecil or Walsingham). However, I absolutely admire her for some of the basic aspects of her governance - moderation, avoidance of the use of force, whenever possible, and, most importantly, tolerance. Religious (and otherwise) tolerance became a cornerstone of a nation that had been deeply divided before her reign. "I see, and say nothing" was a motto of hers, and I could subscribe to such a motto with both hands. I wish more politicians in our times were so remarkably moderate and so averse to extremism in any form.As a writer, Ms. Weir does a great job portraying the Queen. Elizabeth comes through deeply human, and the motives of her actions are convincing and believable. The author also shows the dynamics of the court and the interplay of various societal forces. I would like to see more on what the so-called regular people thought about the Queen, but obviously sources of this type must be scarce.It is fascinating to read how weak Elizabeth was in dealing with the three main men of her life, Thomas Seymour, Leicester, and Essex. The weakness makes her so human and so real. A history book is usually no place for humor, but one sentence made me laugh out loud "The Queen decided to strip all those knighted by Essex of their knighthoods, sparking a terrible fuss, as many of the men quailed at the prospect of telling their wives they were 'Lady' no longer, just plain 'Mistress' again."Four and a half stars.

  • James
    2019-05-27 15:07

    Without doubt the best biography on Queen Elizabeth I ever written. Alison Weir draws you in as a reader so close to the life of England's arguably most famous- and one of its most successful- Monarchs, that you really feel as if you are getting to know Elizabeth herself. Although not intended as a biography and more of a detail about Elizabeth's personnel life and court. Weir gives the reader much detail about Elizabeth's Palaces, and progresses, the entertainments put on for her by her nobles when she visited their homes (particularly Robert Dudley at Kenilworth). Weir also examines some of the most fascinating chapters of Elizabeth's life, the dramas with Mary,Queen of Scots, the 'Marriage Game', the Spanish Armada, and the succession crisis. It is a fascinating analysis on how the young woman who inherited the throne in 1558 would go on to become such a successful Monarch. Weir also brings the reader into Elizabeth's intimate circle, revealing her great wit and sense of humour with her courtiers, but she does not hide Elizabeth's less appealing traits, her great temper with her ladies and Privy Councillors, her continual procrastinating on important matters of state, her incredible tight fisted attitude to paying her soldiers for fought in the Armada, but she highlights the struggles Elizabeth faced ruling in a mans world in the 16th century, and that, by the end of her life Elizabeth had more than proved herself as a Monarch. Weir highlights the fact that on Elizabeth's death many of her courtiers had become tired of being ruled by an old woman and longed for the rule of a man. However, in the years that followed they came to realise what they had lost, and began to look back on her reign as 'The Golden Age' of England. Weir points out one of the highlights of Elizabeth's Golden Speech to Parliament where Elizabeth states "And though you have had, and may have, many princes more mighty and wise sitting in this seat, yet you never had nor shall have, any that will be more careful and loving" is true, as no Monarch before or since has had such a close with their subjects. I read this book nearly ten years ago, and still come back to it time and again, it details the glittering court of Elizabeth I like no other. If you really want to learn about the Tudor Palaces, Castles and stately homes lived in or visited by Elizabeth, the fascinating politics, drama and intrigue that surrounded her, the love she shared with Robert Dudley, yet could never bring herself to be with him, and the fun, games and tantrums that went on in the private apartments, then this book is exactly what you are looking for. This book is one of the best history books i have ever read, and ever shall read.

  • Destiny
    2019-05-03 19:01

    After having some doubts with Weir's authorship with Mary Boleyn: The Mistress of Kings, I was glad to be reassured with her biography of Elizabeth I of England.I've always loved Elizabeth. Her story captivated me. The girl who had lost her mother at such a young age and lived in such a perilous age brought glory to her country once again. I had watched countless movies with her and the fascination grew from there.I knew of the important facts of Elizabeth's reign, but with this book I got a better look at it. Weir made Elizabeth come alive again. The book starts where The Children of Henry VIII left off with Elizabeth's ascension. There are twenty seven chapters and an epilogue and even that didn't seem like enough to me. Luckily Weir a listed a great bibliography, so I'll be checking out some of those. This a great biography. Weir doesn't shy away from Elizabeth's faults, but also praises her achievements. I was truly sad when the end came. There is an author's note in the back about Elizabeth in film. I was a little dismayed when she took the piss out of the Cate Blanchett films since I love her portrayal of her, but with reading this book I can see the flaws of the film. Still I am planning on watching a few of her approved Elizabeth roles.

  • CF
    2019-05-23 13:44

    A brilliant account of Elizabeth's life from her succession to her death. How amazing, how eye-opening a book this was. Elizabeth, after the terrible, bloody reign of her half-sister Mary I, had the enormous task of re-uniting the nation of England, pay back incredible debts, and make people believe in the Tudor's once again. Her shrewd intelligence and negociating skills held back the Spanish for so long, and even when she could not stop the Armada coming, she defended her country with the utmost force and drove them back to their country. Elizabeth, full of empathy, does not slaughter and murder like the previous sovereign, instead ruling with a gentle hand, and only executing when it is absolutely necessary.Her subjects, members of the court and privy council adored her, and she was a very successful monarch. With her everlasting memory and countless good eyewitness reports from the time, Alison Weir re-creates this incredible womans life and presents it to us in her fantastic, easy-to-read way, and makes me love History and the Tudor period even more. Long live the Queen!!

  • Adriana
    2019-05-03 13:11

    I am currently at the beginning of this book but I can already tell it is going to be a darn good one. My fascination with the Tudors has not ebbed and continues with each and every character that is introduced. Within Elizabeth's court there are many interesting personalities, one being Sir Walter Raleigh, another being Sir Francis Drake. And although I know these men, have read of them in past novels or works of non-fiction, I can already sense that I will be heading over to the bookstore for more on their lives. Ms. Weir has an outstanding way with prose, her writing just entwines itself around your brain!FINISHED!! Loved it from beginning to end. I've always admired England's most productive and successful monarch, but this book gave me insight into her everyday dealings and WHY she made the decisions that she did. She was cunning, wickedly humorous and extremely vain. Loved it!!

  • Chris
    2019-05-18 16:08

    Alison Weir has written a superb biography of one of the longest reigning and most influential monarchs in British history. Her writing style makes it seem like you are reading a novel instead of a work of non-fiction. The book starts with a brief description of her parents and her childhood, but the bulk of the book concentrates on her 45 year reign as Queen of England. Both her public and private lives are delved into in great detail, and Weir manages to make Queen Elizabeth come alive. If you are interested in learning about the Elizabethan Era, I would highly recommend this book.

  • Crystal Withem
    2019-05-26 19:02

    I really did not like this book. I tried so hard to like it, but I just got upset every single time I had to read the same thing over and over again. I understand that Elizabeth I did not want to get married. I didn't need it repeated to me 5-6 times in one chapter. It felt like there was allot of filler was used to make this book longer.

  • Annie
    2019-05-05 15:02

    Look, biographies are sometimes utterly boring. So boring that no one wants to read them. However, Alison Weir's book was FANTASTIC! Though the book took me ages to read on the train, I enjoyed every bit of it. Informative and interesting, this is a great book!

  • Kristina Maltby
    2019-05-17 17:08

    I loved this book!