Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Elizabeth: Renaissance Prince” as Want to Read:
Elizabeth: Renaissance Prince
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Elizabeth: Renaissance Prince

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  121 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
A new portrait that casts the queen as she saw herself: not as an exceptional woman, but as an exceptional ruler

Queen Elizabeth I was all too happy to play on courtly conventions of gender when it suited her “weak and feeble woman’s body” to do so for political gain. But inElizabeth, historian Lisa Hilton offers ample evidence why those famous words should not be taken at
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published November 10th 2015 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published October 9th 2014)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Elizabeth, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Elizabeth

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Oct 29, 2015 Jaylia3 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
If you wanted to create a character for your novel or play, you’d be hard-pressed to come up with someone as interesting and story-worthy as England’s Elizabeth I. After her mother, Anne Boleyn, was beheaded Elizabeth was declared a bastard, but she continued with her rigorous education and the hardships she experienced as a result of her demotion helped make her politically savvy, a trait that saved her neck more than once and ultimately put her on the throne. I’ve enjoyed several biographies ...more
Feb 18, 2016 Elsbeth rated it really liked it
Elizabeth I was a BOSS BITCH. I mean boss prince. Duh.
Ted Lehmann
Jan 01, 2016 Ted Lehmann rated it really liked it
Elizabeth: Renaissance Prince by Lisa Hilton (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015, 400 pages, $27.00/12.99) is a dense and rewarding exploration of this remarkable English ruler who happened to be a woman. Elizabeth (1533-1603), Henry VIII's daughter by Anne Boleyn spent much of her life battling to establish and maintain herself as the ruler of a country divided by major issues of succession, religious conflict, and political threat from larger, richer countries Spain and France. Machiavelli's semi ...more
Dan Hansen
Jul 30, 2016 Dan Hansen rated it liked it
This book is better than the rating of three I have given it. It is well written, interesting, and comprehensive. The author supports her biography with direct references from original sources and does so gracefully; her use of her sources support and enhance the story of Elizabeth's life.

She has a theme (Elizabeth as Machiavellian Prince). I am fine with this. It adds an interesting flavor and it gives you something to think on as the biography plays out as it must and did. I should add that I
Biblio Files
Oct 22, 2015 Biblio Files rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"What? The Queen is a Woman?" An old woman, watching Elizabeth pass by on progress, expressed astonishment that the queen was, in fact, a woman. Well, that's the story anyway. It illustrates the differences in attitude of the time and perhaps even the idea that the monarch was removed from even being a man pr a woman at all.

I'm a fan of Elizabeth I biographies. It's a familiar story that's fun to revisit and usually any new biography will have a few new facts to reveal or a slightly different wa
Sandra Guerfi
Dec 18, 2015 Sandra Guerfi rated it liked it
Elizabeth I was Queen of England for 44 years and has been labelled everything from a weak woman led by her council to a bitter, jealous heretic and tyrant whose vanity led her to demand constant attention from her courtiers despite refusing suitor after suitor for her hand. She could be paranoid and often seemed incapable of reaching decisions in a timely manner or at times even reversing them all together. What Lisa Hilton's book shows us though is that not all was as it seemed. Indeed though ...more
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Nov 10, 2015 Meg - A Bookish Affair rated it really liked it
"Elizabeth: Renaissance Prince" is a new biography about Queen Elizabeth I, the last Tudor monarch. Elizabeth I is remembered throughout history as a very powerful ruler and she's also known for potentially having been a virgin queen. The details of her virginity are debated amongst historians. She never married. This author doesn't do well on that instead she shows how Elizabeth was able to almost bend her gender in order to rule her country. Elizabeth I was focused on the way that she was seen ...more
Jan 06, 2016 Patty rated it liked it
Elizabeth I was a fascinating woman and her life and reign have provided the fodder for many a novel, movie and tome almost since she died it seems – well not the movies. They are more recent. I have done a fair amount of reading with Elizabeth at the center, both fiction and non fiction so when presented with the opportunity to read a new book chronicling her life I was very excited.

This new book by Ms. Hilton presents Elizabeth not as a princess but rather as a prince positing that her upbring
Victoria Johnston
A well written account of the life of Elizabeth I, the only issue with this book is that it doesn't really tell us anything we don't already know. This is not a book which really breaks any new ground on her life but rather analyses the extent to which she ruled as a Renaissance Prince rather than a female. In that respect the book is successful, we get a sense of the importance of portraying Elizabeth as a ruler even more effective than her father, nit hindered by the limits of her sex. But we ...more
Given the staggering number of biographies of Elizabeth I and histories of the Tudor period more generally, one would have thought there was nothing particularly new or interesting to say on this subject. Quite the contrary. Lisa Hilton, instead of the usual cradle to grave chronology of her subject, examines various aspects of her life and the various influences upon it through the lens of the lessons of Machiavelli's The Prince. While she may not have read the book, the author contends that ...more
V.E. Lynne
Aug 03, 2016 V.E. Lynne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Out of all the books I have read on Elizabeth I this one would have to be the most unusual, and the most challenging, that I've ever picked up. 'Elizabeth: Renaissance Prince' approaches the Tudor queen's reign from the perspective of the works of Aristotle, Plato, Machiavelli (among others) and it is their theories, and beliefs, that form the prism through which we see Elizabeth. Hilton also puts great emphasis upon, and discusses at length, the difference between the 'body politic' and the ...more
Feb 22, 2016 Judith_Rex rated it really liked it
This is the second book I have read recently that dares to question the bigoted history that has been served up as truth for several hundred years by those who wish to keep the status quo in tight control.
I really admire Elizabeth I for holding on to her throne with such sheer ruthlessness, but really hate that so much of it came at the expense of other women and other religions..including her sister's, whom she copied and no doubt plotted against (says this refreshing book). This is a history
Dec 15, 2015 Clarissa rated it really liked it
Shelves: enjoyed, interesting
I seldom read biographies anymore. Not because they don't interest me but because they read like a long, overdone thesis. However, I was very pleased with this one because Elizabeth I is one of my favorite women in history. Admittedly, I was a little hesitant but I am glad that I took the leap.

This is a biography that reads almost like a novel. it doesn't feel like a history major is barking out facts and demanding that you accept them because they say so. No, this gave us a look at Her Majesty
Troy Taylor
Dec 21, 2015 Troy Taylor rated it liked it
The author stated that she was examining Elizabeth against the standards of a Renaissance prince. In the main, she accomplished that, providing a portrait that was neither flattering nor hyper-critical. Interestingly, Phillip of Spain, usually portrayed as the villain of Elizabeth's tale, comes across fairly sympathetic. Elizabeth's own tyrannical leanings, especially her administration's persecution of Catholics, are not condemned, merely stated as fact. What the author found difficult in ...more
Simon Mcleish
Biography of Elizabeth I which concentrates on the way in which the famous English queen presented herself as a ruler, with special reference to contemporary ideas of how princes should act (drawn particularly from Machiavelli and Castiglione). Generally an entertaining read, and with some interesting insights (for example, an explanation of why she hesitated so long before signing the execution warrant for Mary Queen of Scots). However, I found there to be a lot of irritating small issues, ...more
Mar 04, 2016 Jarrett rated it really liked it
Hilton shows the woman behind the legendary monarch, and uses impressive deduction and close reading of primary sources to come to startlingly new conclusions about Elizabeth's motivations, education, fears, self-image, relationships, and priorities during her reign. From her mystical power rooted in appropriating Richard II's "virgin" iconography, through her careful balancing of her "body politic" against her "body natural", to Elizabeth's careful cultivation of her "Gloriana" image, this is ...more
Elizabeth Judd Taylor
Probably more of a 4.5 rating (please let us give half ratings!)...

Anyway...a very good study of how gender, at least in the case of rulers, was not an idea set in stone in the way we think of it today, this is a study of Elizabeth as ruler and prince. The author makes a convincing case for the idea that it is more modern historians who like to think of Elizabeth's gender as a problem or a hindrance, whereas in her day and age her royal lineage meant she could rule as a prince and not a "mere fe
Aug 02, 2016 Jennifer rated it did not like it
Shelves: history
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Helene Harrison
Review - This is an excellent biography of Elizabeth and her reign. It goes into great detail on the events that shaped the Elizabethan age, like the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, the rebellion of the Earl of Essex in 1601, the execution of Mary Queen of Scots in 1587 and the death of Amy Robsart in 1560. It is very comprehensive, if a little dry in places. It has obviously been thoroughly researched, and the cover image grabbed me because it's not one of the usual images seen of ...more
Jennifer Kurowski
Mar 07, 2016 Jennifer Kurowski rated it it was ok
Worth reading but not astounding. I've read quite a few books on Elizabeth I and found very little that was "new" in this one. I know it's touted as being somehow very different from the others...but it didn't seem surprising to me to consider that Elizabeth saw herself as a Prince, or as a proponent of Machiavellian statecraft. Perhaps no other author has spent an entire book putting those thoughts forward, but surely they've been covered. The author's style is less engaging than, say, Allison ...more
Jan 29, 2016 Beth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This book looks at Elizabeth in the light of being a Renaissance "Prince", a consummate politician who played to her audience and who put her femininity to good use, as needed, to achieve the ends she required. She created herself for her audience.
Elizabeth has long been one of my favourite historical characters and it's always interesting seeing her through a different lens. It took me awhile to get through, but I may not have been in the mood for it at the start.
Oct 17, 2015 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
A solid new entry in the study of Elizabeth I. With an emphasis on Elizabeth as ruler and how she fit in with the other monarchs of the time, Hilton puts new emphasis on certain actions and decisions and provides a different perspective than many of the past entries in this field.
May 21, 2016 Kate rated it liked it
Shelves: library, 2016
This was a fascinating biography, although Hilton tends to assume that her readers are already familiar with Elizabeth and the major players in her life. It was also hard to keep track of some of the more minor characters.
Mar 16, 2016 Judy rated it really liked it
This tells about Elizabeth I from the perspective of her role in the European and Ottoman world of that time. She is viewed in the setting of the values and culture of the Renaissance. It is a biography of Elizabeth from a different angle than most.
Mar 04, 2016 Lisa rated it liked it
Shelves: wackynonfiction
Not in the mood to finish, but it had a good start. I'll hopefully pick this one up again in the future.
J. Whitley
Jul 07, 2016 J. Whitley rated it really liked it
Shelves: women-s-issues
This book points out Elizabeth's strengths as well as showing her participation in many historical turning points. Presenting Elizabeth as ''prince" gives a Model for gender neutrality.
Mar 26, 2016 Marfy rated it really liked it
This is a marvelous biography of a queen we thought we knew well. It debunks a lot of the myths that have grown up around her, and made her more complicated and shrewd than I ever thought.
Ash Shalvey-Phelan
Ash Shalvey-Phelan rated it really liked it
Jul 02, 2015
Anna Tolle
Anna Tolle rated it it was amazing
Mar 13, 2016
Éowyn rated it really liked it
Feb 13, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Elizabeth I and Her Circle
  • Anne Boleyn: In Her Own Words & the Words of Those Who Knew Her
  • Young Henry: The Rise of Henry VIII
  • Tudor: The Family Story
  • The Children of Henry VIII
  • The Uncrowned Kings of England: The Black History of the Dudleys and the Tudor Throne
  • Heretic Queen: Queen Elizabeth I and the Wars of Religion
  • The Men Who Would Be King: Suitors to Queen Elizabeth I
  • The Woman Reader
  • A Gambling Man: Charles II and the Restoration
  • The Watchers: A Secret History of the Reign of Elizabeth I
  • In Bed with the Tudors: the Sex Lives of a Dynasty from Elizabeth of York to Elizabeth I
  • Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant
  • How To Be a Tudor: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Tudor Life
  • Crown of Thistles: The Fatal Inheritance of Mary Queen of Scots
  • Richard III: The Maligned King
  • The Lady Penelope: The Lost Tale of Love and Politics in the Court of Elizabeth I
  • God's Secret Agents: Queen Elizabeth's Forbidden Priests and the Hatching of the Gunpowder Plot
Lisa Hilton is an author and biographer. She grew up in the north of England and read English at New College, Oxford, after which she studied History of Art in Florence and Paris. After eight years in New York, Paris and Milan she has recently returned to England and now lives in London with her husband and their daughter. Her work has appeared in Vogue, Elle, the Evening Standard and the ...more
More about Lisa Hilton...

Share This Book