(K. Brent Tomer),
Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years. By John Guy. Viking; 490 pages; $35 and £25.
THE glorification and defamation of the ageing Elizabeth I is almost as old as the queen herself. Few English monarchs have been subjected to as much historical bias and mythmaking. She has been painted as the defiant Gloriana of Spenserian epic, uniting the land in religion and peace, and the mercurial crone lusting after her younger courtiers. Neither is true, as John Guy shows in this account of her later years.
Recent biographers have focused on the early decades, with Elizabeth’s last years acting as a postscript to the beheading of Mary Queen of Scots and the defeat of the Spanish Armada. Mr Guy argues that this period is crucial to understanding Elizabeth; the threat to the realm did not abate after these two episodes. Four more armadas were sent to invade the British Isles, although in the end good luck and bad weather scuppered their plans.
Courtiers gained Elizabeth’s favour through exploits of land and sea, to the consternation of the old nobility. Walter Ralegh dazzled her majesty with his vision…Continue reading