Elizabeth Regina (Magill's Literary Annual 1981)
Queen Elizabeth I and the Elizabethan era are probably the best-known and most widely written about topics of English history, not only because of Shakespeare’s having lived at the time, but also because of the many fascinating and illustrious figures and events that combined to make the time so prosperous and unique for England. At his death, King Henry VIII had left an unsettled country only recently emerging from years of civil wars and currently embroiled in a raging religious controversy. When Elizabeth died a half century later, the country was politically united, even under a foreign monarch, experiencing a high renaissance in music and literature, and on its way to becoming the empire on which the sun was never to set, until the twentieth century. J. E. Neale’s formidable 1934 biography of Queen Elizabeth, although still considered the definitive study, has not deterred other scholars from continuing to focus on this imposing historical figure until today one wonders what possible new information can be gleaned from the affairs of one of the greatest queens ever to rule.
In this partial biography, covering the last quarter century of her life, Elizabeth’s personal handling of the affairs of state is emphasized. Alison Plowden considers these years to be a time in which the seeds of modernism were gradually being nurtured, so that by the turn of the century, with the accession of the Scotch King James as the new English monarch, the old...
(The entire section is 1889 words.)
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