Elizabeth I and Her Circle

  • by Susan Doran
  • Narrated by Joanna Daniel
  • 14 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

This is the story of Elizabeth I's inner circle and the crucial human relationships which lay at the heart of her personal and political life. Using a wide range of original sources - including private letters, portraits, verse, drama, and state papers - Susan Doran provides a vivid and often dramatic account of political life in Elizabethan England and the queen at its center. Doran offers a deeper insight into Elizabeth's emotional and political conduct, and challenges many of the popular myths that have grown up around her.
It is a story replete with fascinating questions. What was the true nature of Elizabeth's relationship with her father, Henry VIII - especially after his execution of her mother? How close was she to her half-brother Edward VI - and were relations with her half-sister Mary really as poisonous as is popularly assumed? And what of her relationship with her Stewart cousins, most famously with Mary Queen of Scots, executed on Elizabeth's orders in 1587, but also with Mary's son James VI of Scotland, later to succeed Elizabeth as her chosen successor?
Elizabeth's relations with her family were crucial, but just as crucial were her relations with her courtiers and her councilors. Here again, the story raises a host of fascinating questions. Was the queen really sexually jealous of her maids of honor? Did physically attractive male favorites dominate her court? What does her long and intimate relationship with the Earl of Leicester reveal about her character, personality, and attitude to marriage? What can the fall of Essex tell us about Elizabeth's political management in the final years of her reign? And what was the true nature of her personal and political relationship with influential and long-serving councilors such as the Cecils and Sir Francis Walsingham? And how did courtiers and councilors deal with their demanding royal mistress?

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Good book - Boring narrator

What did you like most about Elizabeth I and Her Circle?

Interesting history, well written, but I think I will buy the hard copy as the narrator put me to sleep!


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- Mary-Anne

A Revelation

Elizabeth's Court explored through an extremely well researched examination of her relationship with her relatives, her courtiers and her ladies in waiting. This succeeds magnificently in giving the listener a sense of the real people behind the historical figures. Doran is a research fellow at Jesus College in Oxford and one of the things that really jumps out is the enormous number of letters and other written records that she has studied to build up a picture of the personality of Elizabeth herself as well as figures like spymaster Frances Walsingham, dashing favourite the Earl of Leicester and close female confidants who knew her from childhood like Kat Astley. At the same time the author shows enormous skill in keeping the reader engaged as she recounts Elizabeth's rise to power via close brushes with execution, the high stakes diplomatic efforts required to manage her relationship with cousin Mary Queen of Scots (whose claim to the English throne was stronger than Elizabeth's but for the twin obstacles of being catholic and a Scot with close ties to France); wars with the Spanish and finally the back stairs politics that increased in urgency as she neared death and her courtiers sought to safeguard the political stability of the realm by getting a successor who would command wide spread support.

This is a wholly satisfying listen; it offers wonderful insights how smart, hard working, swashbuckling characters took England from a European backwater to an international power while also showing us Elizabeth's private life through her relations with her closest female friends. It's gone straight back on for a second listen. The production quality and narration are also excellent. If you have any sort of an interest in this period of history, buy this audiobook.
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- Jim

Book Details

  • Release Date: 23-06-2015
  • Publisher: Audible Studios