28th January 2017….a rethink on Elizabeth

Elizabeth_I_Armada_Portrait_British_School.jpgFinished ‘Elizabeth : the Forgotten Years’ by John Guy, a serious read, and one of my Christmas presents. Guy mined forgotten archives, and made new discoveries, and undoubtedly this is a heavily researched work, and yes it does make us re-appraise Elizabeth (who I studied at school and Oxford). She comes across as a tremendously insecure ruler, often manipulated by her advisers, particularly Burleigh, and often in thrall to a succession of handsome courtiers some of whom twist her round their little finger. The important thing was that these very personal courtly relationships actually drove the politics of England very often, both domestic and foreign. She also comes across as a very unsympathetic monarch, happy to send people to war but not to repatriate or pay them, nor indeed look after them once returned…..quite the opposite in fact…she decreed that those soldiers who managed to drag themselves back from fighting her wars and who were roaming the streets, penniless, often badly wounded, be classed as vagabonds and imprisoned or even worse. She wrote personally to the hangman on one occasion demanding that he make sure that the victim be still alive when taken down for drawing Unknown-4.jpegand quartering. Guy emphasises too that she disliked and feared puritans just as much as Catholics and persecuted both groups severely. A very interesting and thought-provoking read indeed. I also re-read ‘1974’ over the past few weeks. A brilliant portrayal by David Peace of Yorkshire crime and corruption at the time, hard-hitting, breathless, visceral. He is an incredible writer, and to think we had the chance to get him across from Japan, where he lives, to Warwick to give a talk for our bookshop….but nobody was interested! Words fail me.

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