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Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  14,877 ratings  ·  293 reviews
The legend of Elizabeth I, the untouchable, charismatic Virgin Queen, is a powerful and enduring one. Most biographies focus on the years of her reign, during which she proved herself as adept a ruler -- and as shrewd an operator -- as England had ever seen. But while the history of her rule is fascinating, the story of how her remarkable character was forged seems vital t ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published December 4th 2001 by Harper Perennial (first published January 1st 2000)
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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
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 ·  14,877 ratings  ·  293 reviews

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Erik Graff
Feb 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anglo-Americans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: biography
Learned, opinionated and witty--this is an excellent biography of Elizabeth I's early years. While some knowledge of British and European history in the sixteenth century is presumed, this book should not be beyond the reach of a high school student. Indeed, unlike many other historians of the period, Starkey is usually careful to provide definitions--either directly or by context--of some of the more archaic terms which vividly color his portrayal of the behaviors of aristocrats and high church ...more
₵oincidental   Ðandy
Jan 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Just arrived from Finland through BM.

This book gives an excellent biography of Elizabeth and how the transition between Catholicism to Protestantism was made in England during the 16th century.
Mar 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I find Tudor history to be fascinating. I have always been a big fan of the Tudors. Elizabeth I is a particularly fascinating historical figure. This historical biography mainly concerns Elizabeth as a young woman. In fact it is around page 238 before Elizabeth becomes queen. Therefore we find out a huge amount about Elizabeth in the years of Edward VI’s, and Mary’s reigns. The political and religious upheaval of the time, was complex, and David Starkey shows just how attune to it all Elizabeth ...more
Jul 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Wow... for a nonfiction highly scholarly biography, this is a surprisingly excellent read. Extensively and intimately researched. I am completely enraptured by this time period and the behind-the-scenes politics and personalities that steered the English ship of state this way and that. This is a fascinating portrait of Elizabeth - focusing almost entirely on her years from birth to ascending the throne (thereafter ruling for 45 years). While I have read many books on the subject, this one is th ...more
Ariana Fae
Feb 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Queen Elizabeth I is one of my favorite historical characters so I had to read this book. David Starkey writes a very detailed biography on Elizabeth with short chapters that were easy to read. I was expecting the book to be more about Elizabeth but discovered the author went on tangents about the people in her life. I understood why Starke may have taken that route, to show she was influenced by them, especially her father, but felt he lingered too long on them with unnecessary details. I enjoy ...more
Jul 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves the monarchy!
Shelves: biography
David Starkey is the man! He really brings Elizabeth to life with a respectful depiction of her reign yet he is not afraid to point out her faults (although I don't think the beheading of her cousin Mary Queen of Scots was really a fault - that slut would not quit trying to undermine Elizabeths crown!) This book makes history fun - who would have thought it?
Mar 01, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
David Starkey writes with the assumption that he is always right. He never argues his point, just states it while dismissing other historian's research. I love the subject matter, but cannot bear his tone.
C.S. Burrough
Apr 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: History readers
There's something to be said of the feministic slant common among Elizabeth's female biographers which make this sometimes-princess, sometimes-not a sympathetic young character. Just being Anne Boleyn's daughter would have been problematic for any individual regardless of character and circumstances. We recognise that these female biographers have done their job when we're compelled to empathise with the young Elizabeth. Such personal connection allows us special access into her psyche.

I was uns
Dec 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: physical-books
I always found Tudors quite fascinating. This book didn't make me feel otherwise. It's a very good writeup on Elizabeth's early years.

The only difference between Elizabeth and a teenage girl who comes from a broken family, abused by step father and ill treated at any opportunity available is she was royalty. The roller coaster ride from the cradle to the Throne is well described with a quite a good look into the 16th century royal affairs, politics and plots. Educative indeed.

The best thing abo
Jamie Collins
This focuses on the early life of Elizabeth Tudor, before she became queen. Starkey boldly, unhesitatingly psychoanalyzes Elizabeth, and while I’m not sure I’m buying all of it, it makes for an interesting read.

He covers the famous incidents of her youth, and explains how they helped mold her personality. For instance, after her mother was executed, Elizabeth’s household was neglected to the point where, at age 4, she outgrew all her clothing. Starkey says this explains why she became such a clo
I haven't yet read a comprehensive biography of Elizabeth I, but figured this one (which actually cuts off right after she ascended the throne) was a good place to start. I'm familiar with the major events in her early and teen years, but this book presents them in-depth. A bit of background on Elizabeth's parentage is given before Starkey plunges into her pre-accession years (a perspective, he notes, that has not attracted nearly as much scholarly attention as her later, glorious years of rulin ...more
Rebecca Huston
One of the better,and more accessible biographies about Elizabeth I, focusing more on her life as a child and adolescent, during the reigns of her father, Henry VIII, her younger brother Edward VI, and elder sister, Mary I. Quite a bit is devoted to the scandal about Thomas Seymour, and later, Thomas Wyatt's rebellion. Recommended. Five stars overall.

For the longer review, please go here:
Graveyard Sally
Sep 24, 2008 rated it did not like it
the author thinks very highly of himself and it comes across in his writing. slips into first person far too often - "i think" this, and "i see" that. he criticizes other biographers far too often. beyond his arrogance, it is a difficult read and his telling of courtly intrigue is dizzying at best. it is interesting to learn about elizabeth's formative years and her road to the throne, but i would have preferred to read more about her life and less about starkey's opinions on tudor life.
Stephanie Jane
May 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Starkey's biography of the early life of Britain's greatest Queen, Elizabeth I, reads in several places almost like a historical thriller. He concentrates especially on the motivations of the central characters, why they did things as well as what they actually did. The intricacies of the religious bickering was quite difficult for me to follow, but I am now much clearer on the main arguments and how seriously the different factions felt about what in some cases seems to be trivial word differen ...more
Charlotte Hall
Wonderfully written and easy to understand, unlike most historians who over complicate and overly exaggerate or express themselves with "big words" to sound clever and full of knowledge. I love this type of biography as it's style of writing puts you in the shoes of the person in question. They write about the person like an actual human being rather than a simple case-study object

Elizabeth is one of my main historical fangirly figures and her endeavours and strengths throughout her life have in
Don't play pseudo-psychologist with ME, David Starkey. Your uneducated ignorant psychobabble shines through to anyone with even a 101 class in psychology.

Stick to history. And while you're at it, stick to HISTORY, and not your crazy opinion of history, with your biased ideas of who's good and who's bad, and you're conveniently leaving out details that contradict your own opinion.

And BTW, despite what you and the BBC think, you are NOT Henry VIII. Get over yourself, for the love of all that is go
Aug 22, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Well, I read about as much as I want to read. Does it count if I don't finish reading a book?

If you read one biography/history of Elizabeth I, don't make it this one. Maybe this could be the fifth or sixth. The author is arguing against other historical opinions, so this book doesn't tell you a lot if you are not already very familiar with Elizabeth's life and the various interpretations of it. For example, he spends several pages explaining the conclusions we should really draw from a letter fr
Aug 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
The author has feelings for his subject and it makes this a more interesting read, it flavors the history. There was a lot to of interesting politics that make such an impact on the children of Henry the VIII.
May 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wonderfully written narrative. I read this book after seeing the movie Elizabeth. What an amazing period of history. David Starkey had a TV series of the same. I enjoyed this book despite my abhorrence of tyranny.
Jul 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
After watching the movie Elizabeth, with Cate Blanchett, and finding it quite ridiculous, I wanted a real biography of Elizabeth I. (Apparently, the director of the movie regarded it as historical fantasy.) David Starkey has written a digestible history. The chapters are admirably short. Some things are left unexplained: I never understood the doctrine of the queen's two bodies, for example. But he does give a clear picture of a most extraordinary woman. She was incredibly talented. She spoke se ...more
Edward Westerbeke
Mar 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very interesting book on Queen Elizabeth of the Tudors. I felt that I learned a lot of facts that I was not familiar with. The only problem with the book was the large amount of minutia that Starkey included in his narrative. That made it a hard read for me. Several times I stopped and said "do I want to continue with this?" But I plodded on and am glad that I finished the book.
Feb 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
Definitely more of an academic-type read. But Starkey is one of the top Elizabethan historians, if that's your thing.
Nicholas Whyte[return][return]This was a fortuitously good paired reading of biographies: Starkey concentrates on Elizabeth's life from her conception and birth in 1533 to her accession to the throne in 1558; he is telling a less familiar story and also challenges received wisdom (for instance he unhesitatingly puts the dying Edward VI at the heart of the Lady Jane Grey affair, where traditionally it has been seen as Northumberland's doing).[return][return]Starkey's appr ...more
Samantha Bee
May 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Maybe actually 2.5 stars...
I had never picked up a David Starkey book before, though I had watched him on BBC shows. I figured I'd enjoy this, and for a little while I did. But every once in a while I'd come across a sentence where it was so obviously a man writing about a woman, that I'd just be put off. Something just so minutely… and I don't want to say sexist, but yeah, it kind of was. Starkey also proceeded to knock down everything other historians said that he didn't agree with, sometimes
Oct 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
A very thorough examination of Elizabeth's formative years before gaining the throne that manages, for the most part, to avoid getting tangled up in all the titles and and descendants of various nobles. (No small task or easy feat. This has tripped up some other very good writers.) An intriguing read that only goes dry near the end, once Elizabeth is Queen and Starkey is wrapping up his narrative; it seems he lost interest as soon as the crown was on her head. Fair enough, as he states point-bla ...more
Sep 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I've read a lot of books about Elizabeth, but I think this is the best one. It has a really strong voice, really brings out Elizabeth when faced with some conflicting depictions, and has a very strong evidential basis for the work. My favorite thing about it is how Starkey will present all the sides of an issue (whether it's about how Elizabeth reacted to a situation, if an event actually happened, if it happened like it's popularly told, etc) and then show why one view is more plausible than th ...more
H. P. Reed
Mar 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biographical, history
Well written, this book gave some new interpretations to Elizabeth's struggles to stay alive during her sister's reign and stronger showed her as a very political thinker. The terror of living under Mary's rule, when Mary clearly wanted her removed from the succession, translated into the caution and secretiveness that stood her so well in her own reign. Starkey did his research and presented letters, reports and diaries of the time to back up his view of the early Elizabeth. He noted what some ...more
Jan Hayes
Jul 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

David Starkey has become a favorite historian /writer of mine. I find his style is approachable and he makes the characters come alive. His books are well-researched and he cites sources within the text when describing controversial actions or decisions of the character. With so many books & films on Tudors, I was surprised to learn that there are many holes in documentation of that time.
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Bookworm Bitches : October 2013: Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne 16 137 Mar 07, 2017 06:01PM  

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David Robert Starkey, CBE, FSA is a British historian, a television and radio presenter, and a specialist in the Tudor period.

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“Elizabeth for the whole of Edward's reign, never wore the rich jewels and clothes left her by her father. Instead, she offered a more virtuous example than the writing of Saints Peter and Paul, her maidenly apparel making the ladies of the court ashamed to be dressed and painted like peacocks.” 4 likes
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