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

3.25 of 5 stars 3.25  ·  rating details  ·  93 ratings  ·  26 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...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published August 13th 2013 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published August 7th 2012)
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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...more
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
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.
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 t...more
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...more
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
John Kaufmann
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 S...more
Kayla Tornello
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.
Chip Supanich
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...more
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 readin...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...more
John Carlson
Truly interesting. An aspect of Elizabeth I that I had not thought much about.
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.
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."
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.)
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.
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.
Marylu Sanok
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.
Harry Hemstreet
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.
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.
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.
A different perspective of Queen Elizabeth I, highlighting her concept of the religious settlement. As well-researched as The Pirate Queen.
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.
Read first 1/3, skimmed the rest. High interest subject for me, but too dry to enjoy.
Photographs are excellent. Cora
This was a well written history of Queen Elizabeth's time.
Decent, relied on clichés far too much however.
Charlotte Gates
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