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After Elizabeth: The Rise of James of Scotland and the Struggle for the Throne of England Hardcover – January 31, 2006

3.8 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Queen Elizabeth famously refused to marry, causing a foreign-born king to ascend to the English throne in 1603. In her first book, Lisle nimbly examines Elizabeth's waning months and the introduction of James VI of Scotland as James I of England, demonstrating that the transition was anything but smooth or preordained. The aging Elizabeth remained unwilling to name her successor for fear that courtiers would abandon her to curry favor with the next ruler. Indeed, prominent statesmen and courtiers had, years earlier, had opened channels of communication with the presumptive successor. Lisle presents a memorable cast of characters striving to mold the transition. Scots feared losing their king and their independence, while Englishmen saw a flood of key appointments and titles go to foreign favorites. Various alternative candidates to the throne were favored by Catholics and Puritans, as well as the rulers of France, Spain and Venice according to their perceived stances on religion. James's greatest desire was to mediate religious reconciliation, but in the end, he made neither side happy and Englishmen began to remember fondly their good queen Bess. Lisle uses this brief period as a lens through which to view the key issues of both reigns, while commenting subtly on the nature of historical reputations. 24 pages of color illus. (Jan. 31)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In her first book, de Lisle intently looks at the intrigue surrounding the last years of Elizabeth I's reign and handicaps how the players, anticipating her impending death, maneuvered for the main claimants to the throne: Arbella Stuart; Infanta Isabel of Spain; and the eventual winner, James VI of Scotland. Sarah Gristwood's Arbella: England's Lost Queen (2005) covered the fall of her political stock and personal tragedy, and de Lisle treats the infanta as the distant instrument of papal and Spanish policy. Grandees in the know bet on James, and de Lisle describes the literary bouquets sent to James as well as less-visible machinations by the likes of Sir Robert Cecil. James' memorable progress into London in 1603, whose brilliance de Lisle decorates with James' accoutrements and personality, quickly changes after the lethal fallout of James' accession, allegations of Catholic perfidy, and the fall of Sir Walter Raleigh. De Lisle's fine debut fits the eternal popularity of all things Elizabeth. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 334 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st edition (January 31, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345450450
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345450456
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #681,847 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This proves to be a highly informative book that tells the tranformation from Elizabeth's Tudor England to James' Stuart England. While most history books lead us to believed that James' succession was matter of facts, Leanda De Lisle tells us that in fact, there were other contenders and James's claims to the throne wasn't as secured as we were often led to believed.

The book tells us the main events of the last two years of Elizabeth and the intrigues that followed as she laid dying without truly naming a heir. The thought of another civil war like the War of the Roses wasn't that far off in most Englishmen's mind during this period. However, James did have the support of Elizabeth's Privy Council and support of most of the important English nobles of the realm.

In some ways, James' coming was something close to a country bumpkin family coming into an inheritance of a rich and worldly aunt. But at least initially, James did all the right things to put the English at ease. It helped that James was well educated which initially hid his many flaws as a person and King. The book proves to be educational in informing us some of James' initial actions as King of England, how some of his Scottish followers gained while some of Elizabeth's suffered.

Overall, I found this book to be well written, easy to read and its a story that should be told. While in hindsight, it may seem like James' sucession was a sure thing, it was pretty dicy situation for a while for James.

On the down side, I thought there should be bit more illustrations and toward the end of the book, the author appears to be centering too much on the fate of Sir Walter Raleigh for some reason.

Overall, the book come highly recommended for anyone interested of this subject matter.
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Format: Hardcover
I was always under the impression that, upon the death of Elizabeth and the succession of James VI/I in 1603, Robert Cecil had engineered a relatively quiet and peaceful passage of the Crown. This book is fantastic, it describes how Cecil remained in court favor, how the Catholic faction viewed the new King (with hopes of tolerance not matched by James), Arbella Stuart's attempts at the Crown and the downfall of Sir Walter Raleigh in connection with the "Bye" and the "Main" plots. The passage of the Crown was not, afterall, a quiet affair.

This book is, in my opinion, well written and easy to read. I suggest that anyone interested in Stuart history read this book to understand just how a Scottish monarch attained the throne of England.
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Format: Hardcover
De Lisle's research debunks a common notion that a hapless yet expectant James entered London to claim what was his. It was not so simple. The author gives us the reasons why and describes the plots to derail the enthronment of the only descendant of Mary Queen of Scots. Interestingly, Elizabeth's trusted advisor Cecil had been staging this prior to Elizabeth's death in a time when it was illegal to even mention the succession. With a cooperative and more cunning than given credit for James, Cecil prevails and profits.

The Elizabethan court gawks at James' entourage, appalled by their clothing and uncouth speech... almost like Jed Clampett moving to Beverly Hills. The descriptions of this, and the reaction to James' selling knightships and appointing Scots to high places are priceless.

De Lisle has piqued my interest in James, he's obviously more complex than I had thought and his marriage even more interesting. His wife becomes a Catholic, not in her native Denmark, but in Scotland where as James warns, it could be hazardous to their rule. Was her separation from young Henry as simple as stated? How about her friendships with those who plot against James? With James' well documented interest in young men, Anna's cutting of Elizabeth's gown to show her leg and foot in a play is even more provocative than it is as merely an act of a fun loving queen. James writes to her lovingly and seems to speak to her with respect, but the other facts don't square with a happy marriage.

As curious as I am about this, I like that the author sticks to her thesis. With the exception of text devoted to the Raleigh trial, she doesn't give in to the many tempting side stories. I hope to find something equally well done on James & Anna and their rule. Maybe De Lisle will write it. This is apparently her first book, and it is so well done, I await the next.
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Format: Hardcover
Having a great interest in Elizabeth and her reign, I found myself very curious about this work, which claims to analyze the period between the death of Elizabeth and the rise of the first Stuart king, James.

While de Lisle delivers on everything that she promises, some parts of the book seemed to drag on as she sidewinded off into some explanation or another regarding some miniscule point that never really pans out to much of anything. Believe me, there are enough key players involved in this work to keep straight.

While it does handle the "rising and setting sun," I think de Lisle does not spend enough time really fleshing out a very interesting point she makes when she compares the overall historical reflection regarding these two reigns. She spends about the last two pages talking about this, but could have spent a chapter going over this (it was really fascinating but very brief).

A worthwhile read.
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