Elizabeth: Renaissance Prince (Hardcover)

Elizabeth: Renaissance Prince By Lisa Hilton Cover Image

Elizabeth: Renaissance Prince (Hardcover)

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A new portrait that casts the queen as she saw herself: not as an exceptional woman, but as an exceptional ruler

Queen Elizabeth I was all too happy to play on courtly conventions of gender when it suited her “weak and feeble woman’s body” to do so for political gain. But in Elizabeth, historian Lisa Hilton offers ample evidence why those famous words should not be taken at face value. With new research out of France, Italy, Russia, and Turkey, Hilton’s fresh interpretation is of a queen who saw herself primarily as a Renaissance prince and used Machiavellian statecraft to secure that position.  A decade since the last major biography, this Elizabeth breaks new ground and depicts a queen who was much less constrained by her femininity than most treatments claim. For readers of David Starkey and Alison Weir, it will provide a new, complex perspective on Elizabeth’s emotional and sexual life.  It’s a fascinating journey that shows how a marginalized newly crowned queen, whose European contemporaries considered her to be the illegitimate ruler of a pariah nation, ultimately adapted to become England’s first recognizably modern head of state.
LISA HILTON is the acclaimed author of The Real Queen of France: Athénais and Louis XIV, Mistress Peachum's Pleasure, Queens Consort: England's Medieval Queens, and The Horror of Love. She is the author of three novels, the best-selling Wolves in WinterThe House with Blue Shutters, which was short-listed in the UK for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, and The Stolen Queen. She was educated at Oxford University and lives in central London.
Product Details ISBN: 9780544577848
ISBN-10: 0544577841
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: November 10th, 2015
Pages: 400
Language: English
"There is no shortage of biographies of Britain's Elizabeth I (1533-1603), but readers should pay attention to this thoughtful, often ingenious account. British novelist and historian Hilton (Wolves in Winter, 2012, etc.) agrees that Elizabeth stood out because she was a woman, but she claims that biographers often focus on her femininity to the exclusion of qualities shared by fellow rulers. Elizabeth's intellectual upbringing "gave her a princely self-image not in the least circumscribed by femininity." She referred to herself as " ‘a prince from a line of princes,' even when those princes were not necessarily male." Hilton emphasizes that the 16th century marked the end of the medieval concept of "chivalric kingship," which taught that rulers governed according to Christian tenets. When they lied, cheated, or murdered, this was shameful. A Renaissance prince, besides being more educated, understood that in the service of preserving the state, immoral actions were not only essential, but ethical. This was reflected, of course, in Machiavelli's The Prince (first distributed in 1513 but not published until 1532), which was universally read, denounced, and heeded, most skillfully by Elizabeth. With regular nods to Machiavelli, Hilton delivers an enthralling account of a life and reign during which Elizabeth dealt with murderous rival claimants and fended off superpower Spain, a fiercely hostile Papacy, and an increasingly intolerant, stingy Parliament. She was lucky and charismatic, chose competent advisers, never forgot the limitations of her power, and left England far more united and self-confident. Despite this, it took 20 years of experience of her successor, James I, before Britons wistfully realized that Elizabeth had presided over a golden age, an opinion Hilton does not reject. Mildly revisionist, well-argued, and thoroughly satisfying."--Kirkus, STARRED review

“Game-changing . . . How history should be written.”
—Andrew Roberts, author of Napoleon: A Life
“It is refreshing to be confronted by challenging arguments instead of tired anecdotes. This biography is also full of unusual and interesting insights . . . What I am left with above all are haunting images of a scented room and a face dusted with alabaster—the living cameo of a most exceptional prince.”
Leanda de Lisle, author of The Sisters Who Would be Queen, for the Spectator
“Hilton provides us with an accomplished evocation of a remarkable ruler. Her book is as elegantly fashioned and ingeniously contrived as those pieces of Renaissance jewelry that Elizabeth loved to wear.”
Anne Somerset, author of Queen Anne, for the Mail on Sunday