Sunday, August 17, 2014
Danger to Elizabeth
When I read The Young Elizabeth, I didn't realize it was part of a quartet (one of the disadvantages of shopping at Daedalus). Two years later, I've found and read the second in the series, and I'm surprised at how Elizabeth is almost a minor character in Danger to Elizabeth. Much of this volume focuses on the religiously tinged political battles in her kingdom, with the implication that Elizabeth, while a Protestant, really didn't care what people believed so long as they treated her as the ultimate authority on earth. The position of English Catholics stood out here. Unlike the 1998 movie Elizabeth, 1560s England was not quite crawling with assassins and murders. There were attempts to reestablish Catholicism, but at least as Plowden tells it, they were more political and less bloody than in the inaccurate but entertaining film. For the most part, Catholics with the means to pay fines were allowed to practice with minor harassment (unless they involved themselves in political intrigues) and the general citizenry didn't seem to care much one way or the other. Anglicanism wasn't that much different from Catholicism, and the people who'd experienced contradictory fanaticism from the two preceding probably appreciated Elizabeth's more nuanced views.