HERETIC QUEEN by Susan Ronald


Queen Elizabeth I and the Wars of Religion
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Ronald (The Pirate Queen: Queen Elizabeth I, Her Pirate Adventurers, and the Dawn of Empire, 2007, etc.) imparts her vast understanding of the queen who tried to establish religious tolerance in her kingdom.

The 1558 Acts of Supremacy and Settlement established Elizabeth as the Supreme Governor of the Church of England and revived the statutes that allowed both Protestant and Catholic communion. Ronald’s premise that Elizabeth never intended to marry illustrates how well the queen mastered political gaming; she ingeniously used her marriage card to play the European leaders against each other. Those countries also struggled with religious conflict. Catholic France’s attempts to deal with the Huguenots failed miserably, and Rome supported the Irish as they attempted to expel the English. The Spanish King Philip II suffered religious civil wars in the Netherlands, which not only ruined Spain’s commerce, but also forced them into bankruptcy multiple times. The Low Countries readily accepted the Catholic scholars who deserted Oxford for the safety of their Universities of Louvain and Douai. Elizabeth, never one to miss an opportunity, insisted on the expulsion of those scholars before trade could be resumed after their civil wars. While Elizabeth may have agreed to expel the Dutch rebels in England in return, when the time came, she conveniently forgot. The author calls Elizabeth a heretic due to Pope Pius V’s excommunication in 1570. However, since the members of the Church of England did not support the pope, neither she nor her supporters ever recognized the act.

An illuminating portrait of the 25-year-old woman who led England through religious and political crises with diplomacy, vision and pure force of will.

Pub Date: Aug. 7th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-312-64538-0
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2012


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