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Elizabeth I

(Medieval Women Boxset)

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  6,715 ratings  ·  55 reviews
An acclaimed biography of Elizabeth I and an examination of the politics and intrigues of her Tudor court.
Paperback, 720 pages
Published August 1st 2002 by Phoenix (first published 1991)
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4.15  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,715 ratings  ·  55 reviews

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Caidyn (SEMI-HIATUS; BW Reviews; he/him/his)
This review can also be found on my blog!

After this book has been on my TBR for years and has been staring at me from my shelf, I’ve finally read it. And, I have to say, it was an excellent Elizabeth I biography. The star off is because it was a bit long and got, well, boring at times for me. But, I’d still recommend this book to anyone.

It was very even. Lots of people love Elizabeth I. Some people don’t like her. I’m somewhere in the middle, where I like her and I think she was a great queen, b
Mar 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anne Somerset’s Elizabeth I has taken me a long while to complete, but that was due to busyness on my part, not sluggish writing on Somerset’s part. Elizabeth I is simply wonderful and enlightening. I have an enormous respect for Elizabeth I for the way she took on the responsibilities and challenges of her role in a time when the heavy burden of massive political power was doubled by the fact that she was a woman. She literally had to use every tool at her disposal to maintain stability in Engl ...more
Pure history, and hard work for me ...but beautifully written and readable. Fictional treatments choose their facts and tend to treat ER I as shadowy and mysterious (a circumstance she certainly encouraged) so this book was filled with facts and relationships hinted at elsewhere but clearly laid out here. For me, the fascination was in the complexity of running a government with far flung representatives at a time when communications were at the speed of a fast horse or a wind-blown vessel. Espe ...more
May 24, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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!!!
Aug 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nothing short of brilliant. So full of detailed information and not just a biography but social history too.
Heidi Malagisi
Feb 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Queen Elizabeth I, “the Virgin Queen”, was the daughter of King Henry VIII and his second wife Anne Boleyn. She was the step sister to Edward VI and Mary I. Her story is full of so many twists and turns, starting from the very beginning, that it is almost a miracle that she lived and became queen. So what type of trials and tribulations did Elizabeth go through to become one of the most successful rulers in English history? What was her life like? Anne Somerset decides to explore these questions ...more
Leslie Goddard
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Grindy Stone
Jan 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you're like me, you will come away from this lyrical, comprehensive biography believing that Elizabeth I is one of the great virtuosos in history when it comes to foreign policy. While the continent was engaged in ritual massacre, invasion, and insurrection, Elizabeth took a shaky kingdom and set it on the road to empire.

But we knew that, I think. The real strength of this biography are the vignettes and anecdotes of Elizabeth's courtiers, whom she played against each other even better than s
Norman Smith
Oct 18, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read a lot of history, and a lot of that is specifically British history, with a heavy course of English monarchs. I was looking forward to this book about one of the most fascinating monarchs of England, and to my surprise, I found that I could not get into the book.

This one is "Did not finish", one of about six such books in my lifetime. I'll be darned if I know why, but there it is.
Persephone Abbott
Simply excellent, lucid observations of history and historical research presented in a thorough and well analyzed manner. I had a look at the BBC’s very good four part series on Queen Elizabeth I and, while I enjoyed the series, the book, I felt, provided a wider range of sentiment about the era and therefore was more objective in comparison.
Kelsey Yates
Very readable. Her conclusions made sense. Full of references to original letters. When she did include quotes, I usually could not understand them since the writing was so complex and roundabout. I did not realize the difficulties she experienced by not marrying. She would pretend to seek engagements with foreign nobles with no intention of accepting them.
Dec 19, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Almost gossipy!
Jacqueline Thorn
Currently reading! This book gives great detail into observer's thoughts and feelings of quotes and actions of The Queen. Much more depth and analysis than many Tudor books I have read.
Robert Gourley
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This must certainly be one of the definitive biographies of Elizabeth I. Absorbing. An immersive experience. Quite good.
Nicholas Bobbitt
Sorry, I just can't get into Somerset's writing style.
Nicola Peard
Mar 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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: biography, owned, history
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
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