Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Elizabeth I: Ruler and Legend

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Elizabeth I: Ruler and Legend

Article excerpt

CLARK HULSE. Elizabeth I: Ruler and Legend. Urbana and Chicago, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 2003. Pp. xxiv +160, 10 color plates, 108 illustrations. $50 (cloth), $25 (paper).

Sometimes you can tell a book by its cover. The inviting cover of this volume is a clue to the richness of this "coffee table" size book. Within are ten color plates and more than a hundred illustrations, including several published for the first time. A great many are taken from the collection of the Newberry Library, others from manuscripts and private collections. The Newberry Library with its superb Renaissance collection and the American Library Association both organized exhibitions observing the four hundredth anniversary of Elizabeth's death. This volume is a companion to these exhibitions. It is also, as the author notes, "an exhibition in itself" (xiv): a pictorial guide to the images, customs, maps, objects, and genealogies of the era. For this reason alone, this volume is a fitting tribute to its royal subject.

Yet it is much more than images that set this gem of a book apart. The text by Clark Hulse is a thorough, engaging, and accurate introduction to the history of Elizabeth and her reign. The queen's life and times are presented chronologically in major chunks: from her survival as a young princess, to the character of her rule, to religion, marriage, sedition, the Armada, and on to her death. For this ruler, a legend both in life and after her death, this volume concludes with a refreshing and comprehensive review of the literature (histories, plays, and poems) and the twentiethcentury movies that continued the legend after the queen's death.

Alongside Hulse's text, focused on the queen's character and her political biography, there are informative sidebars of information. Each of these fascinating topics-Elizabethan music, the education of women, English interests in America, the presentation of Elizabeth as an "Indian Queen" (80), and the queen' s voice-invites the reader to learn more about Elizabethan society. …

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