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A brilliant history of the succession of James I of England, and the shifting power and lethal politics that brought him to the throne.
In the dawn of the 17th-century when Mary Queen of Scots was dead and Elizabeth I grown old, the eyes of the English turned to Mary’s son, James VI of Scotland. Leanda de Lisle's book focuses on the intense period of raised hopes and dashed expectations between Christmas 1602 and Christmas 1603, during which Elizabeth died, James was crowned and the ancient enemies of England and Scotland were ruled by one monarch for the first time.
With its focus on a narrow space of time, this immensely readable history illuminates a wider period, telling in dramatic detail how the suffocating conservatism of Elizabeth’s rule was replaced with that of the energetic James. It is a story in which fortunes were made and lives lost as courtiers vied for wealth and influence. As well as painting a superb portrait of Court life, de Lisle explores the forces that shaped James’s life, his separation from his mother and the violence of his Scottish kingdom; his marriage to the vivacious Anna of Denmark and the failed rebellions, government corruption and religious persecution which set the stage for James’s accession to the throne of England.
Drawing extensively from original sources and contemporary accounts, this vivid account of the cusp of the Tudor and Stuart centuries brings to life a period of glamour and intrigue that marked the beginning of a new age.
‘This is an original, informative, absorbing account, written with verve and style.’ John Guy
‘A deep and fascinating account. Leanda de Lisle’s close focus draws us into palace corridors, country houses and city streets where the excitement, intrigue and danger of the times are palpable.’ Jane Dunn
‘Riveting…Brilliantly recaptures the uncertainty and intrigue rife in the country and court at the key moment when Tudor England became Stuart Britain…A well researched and well written book.’ Mail on Sunday
‘De Lisle brilliantly captures the atmosphere of dangerous uncertainty and furtive intrigue that characterised the last years of Elizabeth’s reign…yet there is far more to this account than well-observed period detail. In particular it recaptures the dangerously unrealistic hope that attended the Scottish king’s accession…there is much here to savour. “After Elizabeth” succeeds impressively in illuminating the moment that effectively creates British history.’ Sunday Telegraph
‘Splendid…Manages skilfully to keep you hooked. This is a dense, dark story but one where the modern parallels are but one element that keeps you turning the pages.’ Independent
About the author
Leanda de Lisle was educated at Somerville College Oxford, where she took an honours degree in Modern History. A successful journalist and writer she has been a columnist for the Spectator, the Guardian, Country Life and the Daily Express as well as writing for Daily Mail and Sunday Telegraph. She lives in Leicestershire with her husband and three children. This is her first book.
Queen Elizabeth famously refused to marry, causing a foreign-born king to ascend to the English throne in 1603. In her first book, Lisle nimbly examines Elizabeth's waning months and the introduction of James VI of Scotland as James I of England, demonstrating that the transition was anything but smooth or preordained. The aging Elizabeth remained unwilling to name her successor for fear that courtiers would abandon her to curry favor with the next ruler. Indeed, prominent statesmen and courtiers had, years earlier, had opened channels of communication with the presumptive successor. Lisle presents a memorable cast of characters striving to mold the transition. Scots feared losing their king and their independence, while Englishmen saw a flood of key appointments and titles go to foreign favorites. Various alternative candidates to the throne were favored by Catholics and Puritans, as well as the rulers of France, Spain and Venice according to their perceived stances on religion. James's greatest desire was to mediate religious reconciliation, but in the end, he made neither side happy and Englishmen began to remember fondly their good queen Bess. Lisle uses this brief period as a lens through which to view the key issues of both reigns, while commenting subtly on the nature of historical reputations. 24 pages of color illus.