I’ve just been reading Elizabeth by David Starkey, a book about the early life of Elizabeth I. It covers the very start of her reign, but most of it is about her relationships with Henry VIII, Edward VI and Mary Tudor.
It raises the question: when little girls want to be princesses, what kind of princess are they thinking of? The modern princess, who gets to live under relentless, unforgiving media scrutiny and has no possibility of publicly expressing any opinions? Or the medieval type, with a bunch of scheming old men arranging her a dynastic marriage to a corrupt, inbred foreign prince – if she’s not imprisoned or disposed of by the monarch as a potential threat to the succession.
The book was also a fine example of how toxic the mixture of politics and religion is. That period of English history would have been messy anyway, because of the lack of a clear line of succession, but the switching back and forth between Catholic and Protestant certainly didn’t make it any easier for anyone.
It’s a good book – Starkey knows how to tell a story – and an interesting period of English history. I’m just glad I didn’t live through it.