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The Elizabethans Hardcover – April 24, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is divided into four sections and 29 chapters. The sections are: "The Early Reign"; "1570's"; "1580's" and "The Close of the Reign." The chapters resemble essays on a particular subject of Elizabethan Life. Among the topics covered are
a. The conflicts between Church and State and the duel between Roman Catholic Spain and Church of England Great Britain. The threat of the Spanish Armada is dealt with.
b. The lives of great Elizabethans are explored including Sir Francis Drake; Sir Walter Raleigh; Richard Hooker; Phillip Sydney and Essex (the last of her courtiers who was in love with Elizabeth) and Robert Devereaux her dear Robin.
c. Literary life is examined with a great chapter analyzing "Hamlet" and the London Theatre of Elizabeth's time. We learn about Christopher Marlow, Ben Johnson and Thomas Kyd.
d. The Irish situation rife with rebellion against the English is well covered by Wilson.
Wilson's history is well written, witty and will add to your knowledge and appreciation of the importance of the Elizabethan age. It was a time when the modern world was being born in growing secularism, skepticism, urbanism and a growth in British trade and colonial influence across the globe. Elizabeth was well served by wise counselors such as William Cecil and Francis Walsingham. The British Empire (named by Dr. John Dee) was making the little island off the coast of continental Europe into a world power.Read more ›
Wilson tries to explain how a small island nation became a world leader in exploration, literary arts, colonization, drama, and a number of other key areas, including political theory, showing through his discussion how Elizabeth's era generated such powerful cultural changes and, through those changes, introduced the modern era. I suggest that the book would have been much improved if he had followed this theme throughout rather than trying to cover so much in such a short book.
The religious conflicts of Elizabeth's era are the most frequently discussed topic and might be as close to a unifying theme as Wilson has. In one way or another, the religious conflicts contributed to the other major events and conflicts. It's not a book for someone new to the Elizabethan period. The information and even many of the digressions are certainly informative, but some grounding in the period is useful if only to help the reader keep track of the players, especially when Wilson starts talking about how his interpretation differs from the standard view. He's a good writer and the essays are sound. I gave the book four stars because it provides a good summary of the Elizabethan era and good introductions to its most significant figures.
Perhaps the dominant problem of the entire period was brought about by the refusal of Henry VIII to accede to the dictates of the Pope, and thereby forming his own Church of England in the 1530's. From that point, depending on who was king or queen, England was divided into believers or non-believers; the punishments for being on the wrong side were nothing short of cruel. Second, the Irish resented British involvement in their affairs every bit as much as they did in the 20th century and had to be frequently suppressed. At times Elizabeth took a somewhat moderate approach to these "difficulties," but she could also be harsh in her judgments.
The author spends a great deal of time detailing the rising supremacy of the English on the seas, which not only enabled success in colonization, but also in the slave trade and in piracy. The defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 confirmed that supremacy. Elizabeth benefited from a succession of able administrators, as well as from more heroic individuals who advanced England's causes on the seas and in battles.
While she was the Virgin Queen, Elizabeth was also a notorious flirt, having several favorites during her reign.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
In my mind, the most influential woman to have ever existed was Elizabeth I. Without her, there would have been no success of Protestantism in England and the country may well... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Andrew Desmond
The book had lots of interesting information. The author seemed to jump around too much. It was dense at times. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Peter A. Lamal
Not a patch on his 'Victorians' which was just great. A quicky to suck money off people like me.Published 24 months ago by Bob of gulf point
The story is easy to read, and makes the period come alive, as well as putting into context many things which you may have half known before. Read morePublished on June 27, 2014 by andrew neil dutney
AN Wilson has written well about the Victorians and their descendants and now turns that same insight onto the Elizabethans. Read morePublished on March 7, 2014 by Rick
I suppose we'll never get enough of the Elizabethans; at least with a book like this, I never will. Highly recommended.Published on January 27, 2014 by Donald J. Richardson