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Heretic Queen: Queen Elizabeth I and the Wars of Religion Hardcover – August 7, 2012

3.8 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“An illuminating portrait of the 25-year-old woman who led England through religious and political crises with diplomacy, vision and pure force of will.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“A searing account of the dark underside of the Elizabethan golden age. Susan Ronald has written a devastating and important reminder of the long, hard road from religious strife to accommodation.” ―Amanda Foreman, New York Times bestselling author of The World on Fire and The Duchess

“A triumph in an age when religion continues to be a matter of conflict” ―Antonia Fraser, international bestselling author of Marie Antoinette: The Journey

“This is compulsive, engaging and vivid history, and a long-overdue study of the religious settlement of Elizabeth I's reign, packed with eyewitness detail. Susan Ronald has the gift of making us feel we are there, caught up in the crises of faith that affected Elizabeth's subjects. In her capable hands, the drama of the English Reformation comes alive.” ―Alison Weir, bestselling author of Mary, Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord Darnley and Mary Boleyn: The Mistress of Kings

About the Author

Born and raised in the United States, SUSAN RONALD has lived in England for more than twenty-five years. She is the author of The Pirate Queen, The Sancy Blood Diamond, and France: Crossroads Of Europe. Ronald owns a film production company and is a screenwriter and film producer.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (August 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312645384
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312645380
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,470,913 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Susan Ronald's Heretic Queen often reads more like historical fiction than historical biography (this is meant as a compliment). She can be descriptive and gossipy, as well as scholarly. Heretic Queen tells of Elizabeth's efforts to form a balanced kingdom, politically and religiously (the two being related). The author writes in short, pacy chapters and sub-chapters which means the book is a page turner (but can also be dipped in and out of). At times, these chapters have somewhat fantastical titles; `The Puritan Underworld of London' as an example, yet Ronald seldom fails to deliver on the content. Elizabeth naturally dominates the narrative but Heretic Queen also encompasses other influential figures from the period, both foreign and domestic, to create interesting and informative read.
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Format: Hardcover
There is a very glaring historical error in this book. On page 77 of the hardcover US edition, as well as on page 99, the author refers to Lady Margaret Douglas, mother of Henry, Lord Darnley, as "the elder sister of Henry VIII" and as "Elizabeth I's aunt." This is a ghastly error. Margaret Tudor, elder sister of Henry VIII, died in 1541. Her first marriage was to James IV of Scotland. Their son was James V of Scotland. His daughter, with Marie de Guise, was Mary, Queen of Scots. It was through her grandmother, Margaret Tudor, that Mary derived her claim to the throne of England. Margaret Tudor's second husband was Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus. Their daughter was Lady Margaret Douglas. She married Matthew Stewart, Earl of Lennox. Their eldest son was Henry, Lord Darnley, who married Mary Queen of Scots. Therefore, Darnley and Mary shared Margaret Tudor as a grandmother, and both derived their claims to the English throne from her, which is one of the many reasons Elizabeth opposed the match. Therefore all references in this book to Lady Margaret Douglas should refer to her as Elizabeth I's first COUSIN rather than her aunt. The lack of understanding of this fundamental fact, ie where Mary Stuart derived her claim to the throne of England, puts all the the information in the book in doubt.
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Format: Hardcover
I've made it about half way through and its going back to the library. The author seems to lack sufficient scholarship in the religious history of the time to command the subject she's addressing. Elizabeth comes off as a contemporary moderate English feminist wending her way through burning stakes. One reviewer has described it as more like fiction than history. Very true. It's more like Barbara Cartland than Barbara Tuchman.

What, for example, do you make of this sentence? "Since the beginning of the sixteenth century, there had been a male fascination with the female form, a male need to understand the maternal body's secrets and how a woman could represent both the innocent nourishment of maternity and man's bestial desires."

What idea is that supposed to get across? Since I assume the author would grant that male fascination with the female form started sometime before 1500, what exactly about that fascination had taken a new direction at 1500? I have no idea nor does she make it clear.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The author has crafted a detailed and engrossing perspective of the forces that shaped the Western world during the reign of the Tudors. Interesting perspectives presenting in exciting tales. Learned a lot. Thoroughly educational and enjoyable. Very well-written.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love this author. This was a great, historically detailed read but entertaining as well. At the end of this book, I found myself wanting to have a conversation with Elizabeth I...to kind of bring her up to date on what she started...to say 'Thank you' and 'job well done' and all that...other than that being mildly delusional on my part, that is a glowing recommendation for this author who brought a historical character back to real life for me.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent depiction of Elizabeth's role in European Reformation history. It emphasizes her personality, religious and political attitudes and relationships to supporters and enemies throught Europe. There's very detailed research in this blend of scholarship and readability.

Over persecution of Catholics, although there was a degree of reality in Philip II, the papacy and the deGuise led Catholic League fomented rebellions and the occasional invasion. It's reminiscent of a later era with a delicate balance between reality and paranoia during the Cold War. Most interesting is the career of Edmund Campion who a devised theory of tides being related to the moon, amazing in an era before Galileo and Newton provided an understanding of gravitational effects. Ms Ronald doesn't supply any basis for Campion's theory, but his history along with that of other dissidents is very well done.

It's very interesting to see and speculate on the plethora of possibilities for Elizabeth to marry.
Ronald doesn't compare her politics or morality with the somewhat similar career of Catherine the Great. The author engages in a bit of speculation in implying that Elizabeth would have repatriated Mary to Scotland if only James had requested it and taken some responsibility for her good behavior in not becoming a focal point of rebellion. James apparently calculated that would diminish his chances of inheriting the English crown. There is very interesting fresh perspective of the involvement of the Elizabethan theater people, Marlowe and Shakespeare and others, in political intrigues of the times.

The book concludes with an aftermath of wishing for a return of the times under Elizabeth, whose religious and political ideals ultimately prevailed in the development of Great Britain.
A chronology and caste of characters would aid readability. I suppose a more serious and enterprising reader could provide one.
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