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Heretic Queen: Queen Elizabeth I and the Wars of Religion
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Heretic Queen: Queen Elizabeth I and the Wars of Religion

3.36  ·  Rating Details ·  178 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
Acclaimed biographer Susan Ronald delivers a stunning account of Elizabeth I that focuses on her role in the Wars on Religion—the battle between Protestantism and Catholicisim that tore apart Europe in the 16th Century

Elizabeth's 1558 coronation procession was met with an extravagant outpouring of love. Only twenty-five years old, the young queen saw herself as their Prote
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published August 7th 2012 by St. Martin's Press
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This book was definitely less about Elizabeth and more about the Wars of Religion, but I appreciated it just the same. I went into it hoping to learn more about Elizabeth as a person during that time period, so I was a little disappointed. However, I knew very little about the wars of religion during this time period and thought it was fascinating how it affected the politics of the time, especially at the start of the empire age.

This can be a little dense, and could potentially be skimmed with
Oct 19, 2013 Caroline rated it it was ok
Interesting at points, and clearly well researched, but the number of names and the way they are presented made this feel a bit like drinking out of a firehose. I read about a third and them gave up, as the only points I found really engaging were the sections about history I had already read about before, like Mary Queen of Scots and her ill-fated marriage to Lord Darnley.
Jul 09, 2013 Richard rated it it was ok
I really didn't want to give this book 2 stars ("it was OK"), but I have to. It's a vital story whose effects are still felt today. The book is well researched and at times quite interesting. But I had a really difficult time getting through this book. The tale is very complicated with many different people involved and many moving parts. The author overwhelmed me with detail, often without anchoring it within context. The text is a blizzard of names, titles, and relationships. The action shifts ...more
May 18, 2014 Cara rated it it was ok
After reading a couple of really good Tudor-era histories(In the Lion's Court: Power, Ambition, and Sudden Death in the Reign of Henry VIII and Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne), this was a huge letdown. It's not really a biography of Elizabeth - she really only plays a bit part. But I'd still be happy if this book were a clear overview of the era, but it's not that either. It's similar to a dry textbook, except that textbook authors tend to do a better job of situating people and events. ...more
Oct 30, 2012 Tiffany rated it liked it
This in-depth and fairly readable book focuses on the religious wars during the era of Elizabeth I. I had a bit of trouble getting through it, mostly because Ronald assumed a level of familiarity with historical figures that I was ~80% on top of. Unfortunately she made passing references (in the "remember this guy, even though I haven't introduced you to him yet?" fashion) that I wasn't able to grasp quickly (thank you, Wikipedia). I was also a bit irritated by some shoddy editing and Ronald's ...more
Apr 21, 2014 Kaelyn rated it did not like it
I strongly disliked this book. I'm sure part of it was that it addressed the religious struggles of Elizabeth I's reign. I am not religious nor do I care about the religious wars that took place in history other than the Crusades. This is to no fault of the author but rather the reader's choice of book.

Another issue I had with this book was that Ronald info-dumped the reader. As a person who had basically no knowledge of Elizabeth's reign beforehand, reading this book was like slogging through
Nicholas Lefevre
Sep 15, 2015 Nicholas Lefevre rated it liked it
In pursuit of my quest to learn of the great female leaders of history, I picked this. In fairness to the author, Susan Ronald, its title includes "...and the Wars of Religion." As I read the forward I also learned that this was her second biography of QE-I.

It is quite a comprehensive treatment of the conflicts between Catholicism and Protestantism (and among their subgroups) during the second half of the 16th Century. It covers a dizzying array of players in Rome, Spain, Portugal, France, Engla
Dec 28, 2014 Jen rated it liked it
Shelves: english-history
When I starting reading this, I saw the three star reviews and was honestly confused. After all it's a book...about Elizabeth...history...England. Obviously I was going to love this book. Why would I take any of this too seriously?

The three star reviews were right.

This book has everything going for it in my universe--Elizabeth, history, England. And yet...

In that "yet" is a pile of disappointment. In an effort to get to her points about the religious intrigues, Susan Ronald races through the bac
Chip Supanich
Dec 18, 2013 Chip Supanich rated it really liked it
I am a history geek, but primarily of American History through reading mostly presidential biographies. I branched out into British History because The US and Brits share a lot of history, because this book was acclaimed, and because I loved the movie starring Kate Blanchett!

I expected it to be dry and difficult to process, but I was engrossed almost from the first page. Ronald's meticulous research combined with an accessible writing style made for an enjoyable read and a positive learning expe
John Kaufmann
Jan 14, 2014 John Kaufmann rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Short, digestible history of Queen Elizabeth I. The book brings home the two defining issues of her reign - the continual threat from Papists within England as well as on the Continent to reverse England's adoption of Protestantism, and who should succeed Elizabeth (which was also tied up with the issuing of consolidating Protestantism or risking a return to Catholicism). Elizabeth tried to steer a path between the opposing positions. The book also provides a considerable time to Mary Queen of ...more
Val Sanford

I have a much deeper knowledge now of Elizabethan England and the role religion played in the politics of her reign, I learned so much from this book as we traced the repression of Catholics through to the separatist movement. I also learned a lot about the threats to Elizabeth's reign from King Phillip of Spain and the Catholic leagues. I also learned about the vicious torture of nobles, Oxford Dons, spies, and peasants that were de rigor for late 16th Century England. Well told and extremely
Dec 16, 2013 Holly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This is the latest of several books I have read this year concerning Elizabethan history and this still managed to add a useful and interesting perspective. This work's main intent is to examine the Catholic experience for the most part, but other items of historical note are also considered especially when weighed against the Catholic "problem." The more I read the more I am amazed to find my murky view of this particular point in history coming slowly into focus (amazed at the amount of ...more
Apr 09, 2016 Jarmby rated it did not like it
Shelves: unfinishable
Like many of the reviews I didn't enjoy this and did not finish it .
The author presents a lot to digest in a fashion that gave me indigestion.
I thought there were too many quotes or extracts that I found difficult to understand , so much so that I continually lost the idea stream that was being presented.

A geneology chart would be fantastic or a list of who is who as I couldn't keep track of the multitude of players in the saga.
It is a really enticing story but for me needs to be told more simpl
Jun 14, 2014 Andrew rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
It was okay. I liked this part: "...Chartley, unusually for a Tudor manor house, had no private brewery. Considering that England's population of around four million people drank eighteen million barrels of beer annually, with over three-quarters of it brewed domestically, the answer to Walsingham's dilemma was obvious. The beer casks brought to Chartley could feasibly serve as mailboxes for Mary's correspondence."
Oct 30, 2012 David rated it really liked it
I loved learning more about this pivotal era in western history. And anything with "heretic" in the title is sure to grab my interest. The picture portrayed in this volume is of a much more vulnerable and beset queen. The forces arrayed against Elizabeth were formidable; Spain and Philip II, Mary Queen of Scots, anti-clerical Protestants. In short, a recipe for disaster weren't it for Elizabeth's (and her advisor's) resolve to continue the Anglican Reformation in her own lights. A great read.
I knew that a lot of Elizabeth's reign dealt with religion, but I didn't know how much of it was affected. I learned some new tidbits, but, like others, found myself skimming over parts of this book. To me, there were many parts that were over-explained, with too much detail about so-and-so who only appeared in the book for 2 pages, but their introduction took 5. Also like others, I found the most interesting parts to be the ones that I already knew about.
Jun 14, 2015 Ashley rated it it was ok
As others said, well researched but you will have so many names thrown at you that you cannot remember who is who without keeping something written beside you. This would be good if you're doing a paper on the religious wars themselves but if you are just interested in Elizabeth, you should probably skip it.
Kayla Tornello
Jun 03, 2014 Kayla Tornello rated it liked it
This book focuses more on the wars of religion than on Elizabeth as a person. I thought that was an interesting take on Elizabeth's reign, since there are so many different aspects to focus upon. It was just hard for me to get into this book. It was hard keeping the different people straight, even though I have read several other books about Queen Elizabeth.
Aug 29, 2013 Sarah rated it did not like it
After I found the same error repeated twice, it was difficult to trust this author. Disappointed that it was endorsed by Alison Weir.

(The Countess of Lennox was not the sister of Henry VIII. She was his niece. If she had been his sister, that would make her son, Darnley, the uncle of Mary, Queen of Scots. That is a HUGE, glaring mistake. Made twice.)
Marylu Sanok
Oct 16, 2012 Marylu Sanok rated it it was ok
Shelves: biography
Another rehasing of the same information on Elizabeth. While purporting to be a biography, I felt that more than a little literary license was taken in telling the tale.

I found nothing new in this biography as I have found in some other.
Jul 09, 2013 charles rated it it was amazing
Using religion as a vehicle to weave a great story of Elizabeth's England, the European political environment during the period, and a central theme of Mary, Queen of Scots, the author has developed a great narrative and rich resource of information.
Lauren Albert
I thought that Ronald did a good job showing the international side of the religious controversies--Elizabeth was not only dealing with reaction at home to her actions but always having to keep in mind the strategic implications of her actions overseas. Choices she made could and did cause wars.
Harry Hemstreet
Dec 06, 2012 Harry Hemstreet rated it liked it
Just OK, mostly a recounting of Elizabeth the 1st reign as seen through correspondence and official writings of the day. Very detailed and of interest to only the most ardent history fan. Read the Black Count instead.
Feb 18, 2013 Patricia rated it did not like it
Even though I enjoy reading about the Tudors, this wasn't interesting enough to keep me engaged. Maybe one of these days I'll give it another try, but for now it's too boring to finish.
Dec 18, 2014 Catherine rated it really liked it
The author occasionally repeated the same point/sentence multiple times, which got somewhat annoying. But overall excellent scholarship and eminently readable.
Dec 01, 2012 Joy rated it really liked it
A different perspective of Queen Elizabeth I, highlighting her concept of the religious settlement. As well-researched as The Pirate Queen.
Dec 06, 2013 Joan rated it it was ok
I was not at all impressed with this book and did not feel that it was a very good look at the Queen. I would not recommend it.
Dec 30, 2012 Linda rated it it was ok
Not much about Elizabeth--she seemed to be playing a bit part in all of the machinations happening around her, although the is not really the case.
Mar 05, 2013 Scputval rated it it was ok
Read first 1/3, skimmed the rest. High interest subject for me, but too dry to enjoy.
Photographs are excellent. Cora
Lisa Stauf
Lisa Stauf rated it it was amazing
Sep 13, 2016
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