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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Review: Elizabeth: Renaissance Prince by Lisa Hilton

Title: Elizabeth: Renaissance Prince
Author: Lisa Hilton
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publish Date: November 10, 2015 (Today!)
Source: Publisher

What's the Story?:

From "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 in Elizabeth, historian Lisa Hilton offers ample evidence why those famous words should not be taken at face value. With new research out of France, Italy, Russia, and Turkey, Hilton’s fresh interpretation is of a queen who saw herself primarily as a Renaissance prince and used Machiavellian statecraft to secure that position.  A decade since the last major biography, this Elizabeth breaks new ground and depicts a queen who was much less constrained by her femininity than most treatments claim. For readers of David Starkey and Alison Weir, it will provide a new, complex perspective on Elizabeth’s emotional and sexual life.  It’s a fascinating journey that shows how a marginalized newly crowned queen, whose European contemporaries considered her to be the illegitimate ruler of a pariah nation, ultimately adapted to become England’s first recognizably modern head of state."

My Two Cents:

"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 by her subjects and those that surrounded her.

For her time, the fact that she was even able to rule her country was quite different. Ruling was typically left to the men, especially in European countries. The queens were the consorts and were supposed to focus on having the all important male heir. Elizabeth was not bound by those duties and instead was consumed with ensuring that all around her understood her power. I've always been fascinated by Elizabeth because she seems to stand out so much for her time. She was truly a force to be reckoned with.

The use of gender is so interesting and I really liked how the author was able to point out how Elizabeth was able to use this as a tool. The writing of the book is very entertaining and the author weaves in a lot of historical facts that I was not aware of. I definitely learned something new from this book, which is always a good thing in my opinion. Overall, this would be a great book for those looking at for a little bit of a different perspective on Elizabeth I.


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