"An abused child, yet confident of her destiny to reign, a woman in a
man's world, passionately sexual yet, she said, a virgin, Elizabeth I
was to be famed as England's most successful ruler. This absorbing new
book, by concentrating on the early years from her birth in 1533 to her
accession in 1558, shows how her experiences of danger and adventure
formed her remarkable character and shaped her opinions and beliefs.
For in her youth she had experienced every vicissitude of fortune and
every extreme of condition. She had been Princess and inheritrix of
England, then bastardized and disinherited. At 16 she was the head of a
great princely household. Not much later she was an accused traitor on
the verge of execution in the Tower. Among all this, she had been
taught the most advanced curriculum of the day. But it was her lessons
in the school of life that mattered more, and that taught her humanity.
Dr David Starkey recreates a host of extravagant characters, mad-cap
schemes, and tragic plots, while using original documents to point up
the importance of the rituals of power and life at court. He writes
with admirable clarity about religion and constitutional history. This
brilliant book contrasts the daughters of Henry VIII: the pious
Catholic Mary and her clever sister. The key to understanding Elizabeth
is her determination not to make the same mistakes as Mary."