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ELIZABETH: Renaissance Prince
Bibliophile price: £1.50
Elizabeth I is perhaps the Queen who fascinates and enthrals us the most. We picture her as a strong woman in her splendid, richly-embroidered gowns with a large lace ruff around her neck, her red hair bedecked with pearls, and tend to forget that she aged with time, just as the rest of us do. This fresh interpretation of the woman who was destined to become a great ruler follows her journey from a young, timid queen to an enormously powerful monarch who saw herself primarily as a Renaissance prince who crafted her own speeches and used her sexuality to get what she wanted. At a masque in July 1564, Elizabeth observed to the Spanish Ambassador, indicating her black and white costume, 'These are my colours.' Black represented constancy and white virginity, so combined they signalled constant virginity. At the height of her powers she cast her spell over kings and commoners alike, but as she aged it was alleged that her ladies-in-waiting broke their looking glasses rather than allow the queen to catch a glimpse of her raddled features. A portrait, depicted here, of Elizabeth in old age shows a gaunt, tired, hollow-eyed woman slumped in a chair, her weary head resting on her hand. Three years after her death King James held a series of entertainments at her old home in Hatfield. 'The hollow spectral atmosphere of the last years of the Elizabethan court was filled with a rambunctious vivacity, the pinched, cobwebby ghost of the old woman who had stalked and muttered through her last years was laid.' A remarkable highly-detailed and animated biography that brings the Virgin Queen back to life. Refreshing and daring. 384pp, 16pp b/w illustrations. US first edition, remainder mark.

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