This is the story of Elizabeth I's personal and political relationships with her family and the inner circle of her court. 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, in a revaling investigation of the queen's interactions with the men and women close to her. It is a fascinating story told from multiple perspectives -- and one that challenges many of the popular myths that have grown up around Elizabeth.
Elizabeth's family relationships were crucial to her personal development and political conduct. Susan Doran asks about the nature of Elizabeth's relationship with her father, Henry VIII, the man who had executed her mother. She examines how close the young princess was to her half-brother Edward VI, and investigates whether Elizabeth's relations with her half-sister Mary and her cousin Mary Queen of Scots were indeed as poisonous as is popularly assumed. She also tells the story of Elizabeth's fraught relationship with her Suffolk cousins and Mary's son, James VI of Scotland, the man later to succeed the queen as her preferred heir.
No less important to the politics of the reign were Elizabeth's relations with her courtiers and councillors. Through extended pen portraits, Susan Doran brings to life the inner workings of the court and its personalities, tackling a host of intriguing questions: Was the queen sexually jealous of her maids of honour? Did physically attractive male favourites dominate her court? What does her long and intimate relationship with the earl of Leicester reveal about his ambitions and her character? Why did the earl of Essex lose the queen's favour and fall from power in the final years of her reign? How did Elizabeth relate to influential and long-serving councillors such as the Cecils and Sir Francis Walsingham? Was she manipulated by them, or did she retain control over policy? And how did the men and women at court view and deal with their demanding royal mistress?