Although he admits more than once the truth in another historian's charge that a full history of Elizabethan England could be written without reference to the poet/courtier, Mr. Howell succeeds in demonstrating his thesis that Sidney played a catalytic role in the period's religious and political thinking. He also shows that Sidney served as an early exercise in myth-making for Elizabeth's passionate Protestants by dying young without having fulfilled any of the promises of his stalemated career at court. Elizabeth never cared for him and part of the aversion stemmed from her disgruntlement at his father, a pioneer coper with The Irish Question. Then, Sidney was outspokenly opposed to her toying with a French alliance through a marriage to Alencon--and even a Virgin Queen has a right to mull over the idea of marrying a much younger soldier. Sidney was also in the Protestant Puritan tradition and tended to urge her to a more militant function as Defender of the Faith than the lady cared to play. He impressed his peers at home and abroad and fit the resurrected image and trappings of chivalry as a polished, perfect, gentle knight. Sidney was when he died after a knee wound caught in a Lowlands skirmish and was granted an immediate legendary hero status through the p.r. of his determined friends. Mr. Howell has done a lot with a little (Sidney's contributions to Eng. Lit. are by-passed for the most part) but it's turgid going except for devotees of English history.