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The Pirate Queen: Queen Elizabeth I, Her Pirate Adventurers, and the Dawn of Empire Hardcover – June 26, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0060820664 ISBN-10: 0060820667 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (June 26, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060820667
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060820664
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,350,026 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When Elizabeth Tudor became queen in 1558, her religiously fractured kingdom was in financial chaos and under constant threat from superpower Spain. How the iron-willed, financially astute monarch utilized piracy and plunder as a vital tool in guaranteeing English independence from foreign domination and in transforming a backwater nation into a nascent empire is the tantalizing focus of Ronald's (The Sancy Blood Diamond) latest effort. To wreak vengeance on the Spanish perpetrators of the Inquisition, Elizabeth granted swashbuckling John Hawkins permission for his first slaving voyage to Guinea in 1562. On a 1577 mission to raid Spanish shipping in the Pacific, Francis Drake became the first European commander to sail around the southernmost tip of South America from the Atlantic into the Pacific, and in 1588, he destroyed the invading Spanish Armada. Charismatic, massively ambitious Walter Raleigh founded Virginia, popularized smoking tobacco and spent the 1590s in a futile search for the fabled El Dorado. Authoritative, assiduously researched and with a knack for making the intricacies of sea skirmishes accessible and absorbing, this is a surprisingly fresh perspective on one of the most popular subjects of royal biography. 16 pages of b&w illus.; maps.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Biographies of the great Tudor queen abound, but this solid, even exciting one pursues a particular tack and thus takes itself outside the usual run of standard treatments. Ronald is interested in pursuing the life and reign of Elizabeth I in terms of her specific effect on the founding of what was to become the vast British Empire, which reached its zenith in the nineteenth century. As seen here, it was paramount for the queen to make herself secure on the English throne in the face of Catholics at home and abroad, who preferred her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots; in addition, her personal security had to be founded on the security of her kingdom on the world stage—the two, as she saw it, went hand in hand. The queen was, as Ronald has it, an "astute businesswoman" who realized that for state-security purposes, she needed lots of money. Although Ronald insists Elizabeth Tudor was "no empire builder," the fascinating picture drawn here is of her intense working relationship with the merchant and gentleman adventurers who, out on the high seas, would secure money for their beloved monarch, and, in the process, "inadvertently," as Ronald posits it, move England into a solid financial status that would, in turn, foster empire. Hooper, Brad

More About the Author

Susan Ronald was born in Los Angeles but has lived most of her adult life in Europe - six years in France and over twenty-five years in England. History and translating it into commercially viable projects has been her lifeblood for the past thirty years. HERETIC QUEEN (August 2012) is her fourth published book and the final history she intends to write on Elizabeth I. She has recently completed her first novel SHAKESPEARE'S DAUGHTER which is currently in final edits and which will hopefully be published next year.

With her husband, Dr Doug Ronald (YOUNG NELSONS), Susan owns a film production company called Green Gaia Films (www.greengaiafilms.co.uk) which marries their love of fascinating people of the past and history.

Customer Reviews

This book is very enlightening for readers of fiction and non-fiction, historians and non-historians alike.
Love To Read
I heartily recommend this to anyone who is not interested in history (as well as those who are)... it has tremendous resonance for the times we live in today!
Robert Rutkin
Historian Susan Ronald brings all of the adventure and excitement of Elizabeth I's life to the pages of her book.
Mel Odom

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A. Balerdi on June 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Normally I would not want to be so effusive with a book, but I have been waiting for a book on Queen Elizabeth that would not praise her on every page but really see her as a fallible human, for about 10 years. And well Susan Ronald has not fallen short of my expectations. Her didactic quality she lends to the book does not diminish or dilute the flow and pace other histotrians would fall foul of at most turns. She offers a tangible sense of the queen as a woman and a cunning naval commander with an eye on the financial and an ear and knowledge that as we know did set her apart from other queens or even kings.

Imbued with this Ronald ends on a high note (I won't give it away) but what I thought I knew about the 16th century queen I really did not. Her research is second to none and it was well worth the wait for it. It really did not disapoint.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mel Odom VINE VOICE on December 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I love history and I love pirates. Thankfully history never goes away and pirates are more popular than ever. I grew up on stories of Sir Francis Drake, the most prominent of her majesty the queen's privateer, who took his letters of marquee and seized a place in legend for himself. But I never really got into the true story about the man until I was more grown up. By then I was majoring in history in college and found the stories even more interesting because I recognized them as men who had to overcome their fears before they became swashbuckling heroes.

I was, however, guilty of not thinking overmuch about the lady that gave men like Drake the chance to become my childhood heroes. Her journey, her decisions, were - upon reflection - even harder and more awe-inspiring than her privateers.

Called the Virgin Queen, and that must have been a hard one to deal with back in her day, Elizabeth I rose to the throne a month after she turned 25. She was the daughter of Anne Boleyn, who was beheaded at the order of her husband Henry VIII. A beheading served as a divorce at the time because the Anglican Church hadn't instituted divorce as acceptable.

For a while, Elizabeth was declared illegitimate and had no shot at the throne. That struggle was only one of many she faced, as well as religious problems within the nation and war with Spain.

Historian Susan Ronald brings all of the adventure and excitement of Elizabeth I's life to the pages of her book. I'm ADHD and even though I love history, I oftentimes find wading through "scholarly" approaches to material I'm interested in very hard reading. My attention span wanders and I lose track in the middle of baroque sentences.

This isn't so with Ronald's book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael E. Fitzgerald on September 23, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is as interesting and well written a book on England's 16th Century emergence, from third world nation status to global superpower stature, as you are likely to find. I especially appreciate the consistency with which author Susan Roland puts the economics of Queen Elizabeth's decisions into today's terms. This goes a long way toward making Elizabeth's decisions understandable. Piracy was an amazingly big business. With single voyages generating over $1.0 billion in today's equivalent, utilizing current values enables readers to readily understand how large an economic driver piracy was to England's evolution as a superpower. Plunder became England's primary growth industry, the financial bedrock upon which England's global dominance over the next 400 years was built. Since most of this wealth was taken from Spain, plunder also planted the seeds which would ultimately destroy Spain's preeminent position in world affairs.

After Philip of Spain stifles England's ability to export wool, its primary cash crop, early in Elizabeth's reign, England subsequently suffers from an inability to either fund its defense or protect its interests on the European stage. Beset by powerful enemies both secular and religious, England struggles with Spain and the Catholic Church externally and Scotland internally. Moreover, England's allies were in disarray. France was often religiously bipolar, while Holland, Belgium (then referred to as the Low Countries) and Portugal were economically dependant. Revolution was rife and Elizabeth's monarchy was tenuous to say the least.

With this as the backdrop to relations in the neighborhood, Elizabeth made common cause with what history refers to as her adventurers. Piracy had been practiced along most European and Mediterranean coasts for centuries.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Marjorie Bliss on July 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Susan Ronald has written a highly informative but above all entertaining history of Elizabeth I and her adventures that had me riveted to my chair! I had no idea that England was in such a fragile state when this young, single queen we all thought we knew so well had taken the throne. Ronald weaves Elizabeth's (and England's)journey to world power with verve and erudition...but has that unique gift of keeping the reader glued to the page. It's a fabulous fabulous read! Every high school and university library shoud have it: it puts a prespective on the British Empire that few of us knew existed, I suspect.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By robbieandrose on January 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I agree with one of the other reviewers that the writing style is kind of amateurish and that the writer frequently re-crosses the same ground. However, I liked how the author followed Elizabeth's difficult and dangerous task of navigating her weak nation through treacherous times with the help of her pirates. I found her habit of constantly translating the value of everything into modern day values (dollars and pounds sterling)irritating. Also think that readers looking for alot on sea battles or naval nuances will be disappointed. Not a bad book but not a great one either.
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