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Elizabeth I (Medieval Women Boxset)

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  6,063 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
Glitteringly detailed and engagingly written, the magisterial Elizabeth I brings to vivid life the golden age of sixteenth-century England and the uniquely fascinating monarch who presided over it. A woman of intellect and presence, Elizabeth was the object of extravagant adoration by her contemporaries. She firmly believed in the divine providence of her sovereignty and e ...more
Paperback, 672 pages
Published January 7th 2003 by Anchor (first published 1991)
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Mar 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: serious history buffs
I have just finished all 672 pp. of Anne Somerset's Elizabeth I and feel I now know more about her than I ever did before, for all the biographies I've read. I appreciate now her lifelong intent never to marry, but her interest in playing the marriage game as a political pastime. I understand her dilatoriness in all matters of foreign polity and of finance as if it were newly introduced to me, as indeed it was. I marvel at her love for her people, that great bond of love that kept her going thro ...more
Oct 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Oh my goodness I finally finished this! This was one beast of a book and I recommend this highly, but only to those that are interested in Elizabeth I and her court affairs, because it encompasses everyone around her. It give explicit detail in some things, there is 50 pages devoted to detailing her travels, who it affects, burdens, etc. But I enjoyed it nevertheless.
The writing style is wonderful. I really admired Somerset for this, and how much knowledge and understanding of the Queen is in th
May 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Thank you for the time machine Anne! The only detail this book leaves out is that clearly Her Majesty had a libidinous sex life equal to that of a young prince. Actually some of the details are its only flaw. Yes, I wanted to know that the Queen was stylish, but not to the point of redundancy, especially when her domestic and foreign policy was so intricately complex and of course interesting. But what really made her (and this book) stand out was not the wars she fought against stronger powers, ...more
Danielle Park
Mar 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
This biography is full of details and facts! It's amazing how Ms. Somerset was able to compile such a complete picture of Elizabeth's life! Before reading this book, I had no clue who Queen Elizabeth I was; but now, I feel like she is a like a familiar celebrity in our modern world! Also, this book helped me break that old English stereotype of proper English ladies and gentlemen sipping tea.and eating little cakes. These people in the 1500's were human too, and there are similar scenarios are p ...more
Russell Hall
Somerset outdoes herself in this highly detailed work. Though it can at times be information overload, it still reads as a detailed account of a remarkable forty four year history of a realm on its way out of the backwaters to nationhood amongst the superpowers of the day. I especially enjoyed the details of issues and things beyond the court such as the wars in the Netherlands, and Ireland which are so often glossed over in other books on her reign.
Jan 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
While I trudged through this book, it wasn't because it was poorly written or boring. It was just information overload. Somerset did a great job of recreating moments in Elizabeth's life and her prose was easy to read and follow. This biography is going to be VERY helpful for me...gotta love Elizabeth!!!
Leslie Goddard
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
It took a long time for me to tackle this beast of a book, although it was infinitely rewarding to do so. Somerset does a masterful job wrangling together all the available information about Elizabeth I's life (at least, so it seems) and weaving it together with insightful analysis. As with so many books about this time period, it can be tedious for a modern-day reader to wade through the Elizabethan language. The names of courtiers alone can be head-spinning. She assumes a certain amount of pre ...more
Nicola Peard
Mar 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
The start was a little rocky for me, but the perspective it offered on her motivations (especially surrounding her lovers) was hugely refreshing and made for a really engaging read!
Helene Harrison
Review - The best biography I have ever read of Elizabeth I. It deals with every event of her reign in glorious detail, and tries to understand what impact her childhood and upbringing had on her as a person and a queen. It examines the people around her like Lord Burghley, Robert Dudley, and her father, sister and brother, trying to understand what made her the person she was. It's not just a biography but an examination of everything that made the Elizabethan age.

General Subject/s? - History /
Jul 10, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a change of pace for me. Was bored and restless with my usual fiction, so got this from dad's bookcase.

The author did a great job keeping the flow of characters intelligible. Most histories get bogged down with an ever shifting palette of names, nicknames and titles, but in this work, I found it quite easy to follow the various people. (Mostly, each person is described with one name or title, until they get a new title, and from then on the new title is used.)

The book dragged a bit, mo
Diana Shaffner
Jun 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
Historical Fiction at it's best! Anne Somerset brings the age of 16th century England to life like no other with this brilliantly researched historical work. Although not a light read by any means, Somerset's writing style is very engaging.

Elizabeth I was without doubt a woman of immense political and religious power, a highly intelligent leader, strong willed, and seductive. She remained committed to her choice not to marry despite vicious criticism and pressures from within the Tudor court. Th
Mar 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The book is a fantastic biography that captures an amazing amount of nuance to her character. I was drawn to the subject after watching HBO's superb miniseries on Elizabeth. Listening to the interviews after the film, I was left with the impression that they had cut a lot of corners, historically speaking. However, after reading this work, I was left with the conclusions that HBO's sins were only those of ommission. They give short shrift to a number of Elizabeth's pets. But, even Sommerset's wo ...more
Sep 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
For the serious Elizabeth I fan, this detailed account of her reign delivers the facts of a history text along with the feeling of an autobiography. Never boring, any of the few suppositions given by the author are well supported, leaving the reader with a confidence in the author to deliver a rounded account of Elizabeth's journey as a monarch. There is almost infinite factual detail within - leaving little room for rumor, gossip and other drama associated with some works about the subject. If ...more
Mar 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
actually, i'm re-reading this. it's because i finished The Other Boleyn Girl and then read in the notes at the end how she (Gregory) handles her historical information to weave it into the fictional context, which started me wondering about the more factual side of things, which probably should have started me with Alison Weir's The Children of Henry VIII, but Elizabeth I covers the succession pretty clearly in any case.

at 200+ pages in, it's as engrossing a read as i remember, covering Elizabet
Chloe Baker
Dec 07, 2014 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Somerset's biography is very well-detailed, and I liked that she mostly waited until the end to insert her own opinions of Elizabeth's reign. I read it in order to get some background before reading the Faerie Queene, and I think Somerset provided as many points of view as fairly as possible in addition to her details, so I feel prepared. I also appreciated that the author was not bent on the sensationalism that is usually attached to writing on the Tudors, and I was thankful that she didn't ind ...more
Mar 24, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, history, biography
Sadly, a lot of this very long book was wasted effort. Parts of it read like "And then Elizabeth had lunch with the Duke of ______... and then she went to Richmond... and then she might have slept with Leicester... and then..." An interminable list of where she might have eaten dinner and who among her coterie might have betrayed her (because five hundred years on, who the hell knows). It's shocking how hard it is to find a good Elizabeth bio. This has all detail and no context. Shakespeare is m ...more
Sandi Steinberg
Dec 21, 2010 is currently reading it
She's an excellent writer and historian.

What's fascinating about the book: the struggle to get Elizabeth to marry and her parrying away the prospective grooms her counselors put forth; the relationship and power struggle between Elizabeth and her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots; the fact that Somerset, a far better biographer than Antonia Fraser, doesn't hesitate to criticize her subject for actions she finds dubious or duplicitous. This is something Fraser should have applied to her biography of Ma
Jun 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: henry VIII fans, history lovers
Recommended to Liz by: self
This was a definite struggle to get through. It was rather boring during the religious parts (but I know this was a huge part in Elizabeth's reign). I found it rather exciting when they talked about court life, marriage, and expenses accrued when on progress. If you are really into history on Elizabeth then go on and read it, but if not there are better books about her out there to read. There were a ton of parts that I had to reread because it was so boring and finally I just skimmed over those ...more
Aug 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really good book for everyone, who is interested in Elizabeth I and her reign.
Main pros:
1) author's neutrality, presenting narrative, allows to make your own conclusions;
2) Elizabeth is placed in context of her time and space - one must remember that her actions and decisions were influenced by various events abroad and at home, morals of 16th century's society, politics of the day, opinions of people around her and her own uneasy experiences. Somerset explains it all very well.
Mar 08, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction

Excellent biography, but not wildly compelling. Somerset more or less takes the reader through Elizabeth's life chronologically, which slows the pace a bit. She does provide a thorough picture of her reign, and has a great sense of humor about some of the more ridiculous intricacies of Elizabethan politics.
Oct 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is THE book that sparked my interest in Elizabeth I when was at school. My teacher lent it to me and I spent hours sitting wedged on my radiator reading. It was an amazing eye opener and I thank the author for inspiring me to read EVERYTHING about Elizabeth I and making my own decisions about what really happened during her reign.
Jul 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a great book - IF You love history, especially old English or royal history. I am pretty sure the average person would find it about like reading a history book for class. I personally loved the detail and insight into the time.
Jul 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People who like biographies/history
Good biography, although it was a little confusing to me at times and some of the vocabulary I am unfamiliar with due to it's british origin or something. I hope to pick it up again someday and finish it, as for now, it has to go on the Just Can't Read 1 More Page shelf.
Anna Junell
Nov 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I read this book when I was 12-13 and it changed me forever. I realized it is ok to be a leading lady.. A strong woman. After I read this my confidence grew and I started sticking up for myself and for those I love. Very good read!
Feb 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
My favorite biography of my favorite historic figure.
Currently obsessed, but it will wane again.
Apr 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
I haven't read this for ages. I expect it was enjoyable but I think those by David Starkey and Jane Dunn are better.
May 29, 2012 rated it liked it
I couldn't quite finish this history... rather dry and not quite as interesting as the historical books about Elizabeth I's father Henry the VIII and all six of his wives.
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  • Elizabeth & Leicester: Power, Passion, Politics
  • Henry VIII: Man and Monarch
  • Edward VI: The Lost King of England
  • The Virgin Queen: Elizabeth I, Genius of the Golden Age
  • Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens
  • Katherine the Queen: The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr
  • Bloody Mary: The Life of Mary Tudor
  • A Daughter's Love: Thomas More and His Dearest Meg
  • Elizabeth the Great
  • Her Majesty's Spymaster: Elizabeth I, Sir Francis Walsingham, and the Birth of Modern Espionage
  • Anne of Cleves: Henry VIII's Discarded Bride
  • Mary Tudor: The Spanish Tudor
  • After Elizabeth: The Rise of James of Scotland and the Struggle for the Throne of England
  • Elizabeth's Women: Friends, Rivals, and Foes Who Shaped the Virgin Queen
  • The Sisters of Henry VIII: The Tumultuous Lives of Margaret of Scotland and Mary of France
  • Catherine of Aragon
  • Anne Boleyn: A New Life of England's Tragic Queen
  • Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Mystery

Other Books in the Series

Medieval Women Boxset (6 books)
  • The Warrior Queens
  • Medieval Women: A Social History of Women in England 450-1500
  • Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Biography
  • Mary Queen of Scots
  • The Weaker Vessel

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