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What Life Was Like in the Realm of Elizabeth - Norman L. Jones

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Genre: Junior Books / Author: Norman L. Jones / Hardcover / Reading Level: Ages 9-12 / 168 Pages / Book is published 1999-04 by Time Life UK

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      07.09.2009 21:38
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      Good for those with an interest in the period as well as those without

      'In the Realm of Elizabeth' may at first glance look like a children's book about life in the Elizabethan period but I would beg to differ as although it has much in common with a children's historical book it also contains a lot of detailed information, which makes this book (in my opinion) fall in the category of historical overview of a period suitable for anyone.

      == The Book in Short ==
      The book is fantastic in my opinion and really helps to banish a lot of Elizabethan myths as well as highlight a lot of important and sometimes forgotten historical details. Accompanying these details are some fantastic artists sketches, pictures of works of art and famous portraits. These bring colour and life to the period being discussed and help make the book appeal to people of all ages, abilities and interests. The fact that the book is lavishly adorned with pictures also means that although it may seem a bit hefty at nearly 200 pages there isn't as much writing as you may at first think.

      'In the Realm of Elizabeth' is split into three main sections, which are titled The Queen and Her Court, London City of Opportunity and Dreams of Wealth and Glory. On top of these sections are four mini essays, telling us more about factors we should be aware of, and an introduction, which contains a timeline of events in the Queens reign, a Tudor family tree and a basic map of England. In an attempt to give you a better idea of what this book offers I have broken the remainder of my review down into the sections of the book.

      == The Queen and Her Court ==
      This section of the book tells us all about the make-up of an Elizabethan court and Parliament. It also discusses the Elizabethan religious settlement, which you may be interested in knowing is actually the founding stone for the church state relationship we have in the UK today. It also takes about the rebellion from Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth's unique way of dealing with this.

      For me this section was the most interesting but that was simply because I have a strong interest in the workings of Parliament and Church after the disruption of Henry VIII's reign. I am also a keen Tudor dynasty historian and therefore for me it is the political section that is of most interest to me.

      == London City of Opportunity ==
      This section of the book discusses the Poor Laws in force during Elizabeth's reign as well as bringing into the equation all of the other seemingly silly laws that were used to control the people. The section also depicts what everyday life was like for those labouring in London as well as trying to give us an idea as to what people ate, drank as well as to what they took and did to cure illness and disease. Also discussed are famous artists and authors such as Shakespeare and Jonson.

      This section was similarly interesting to read and actually had a lot of appeal. My brother, who is thirteen, has recently found this section of great use whilst studying the period at secondary school and has frequently borrowed the book in order to use it for his homework.

      == Dreams of Wealth and Glory ==
      Section three goes into detail about Francis Drake and his triumphant voyages as well as discussing new science, explorations and Spanish relations. Obviously the Spanish Armada is also given a large write-up, as are the inland rebellions crushed by Elizabeth's army and those of her Earls and Dukes. It is at the end of this section, which for all intents and purposes closes the book, that we find the most well-known Elizabethan phrase; "I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and a king of England too'.

      This section was also very interesting for me as it again introduced a lot of the Elizabethan politics that I have come to know so well. Furthermore it didn't skip any details when describing the main events and gave enough coverage to the lesser know historical skirmishes to satisfy most.

      == Mini Essays ==

      The min essays within the book are simply self contained sections that cover one topic and four or five pages. The essays included in the book cover Henry VIII, Life in English Countryside, Shakespeare and the Queen's wardrobe. These sections are all very interesting to read with those on Henry VIII and Shakespeare probably being of the most use to anyone wanting the book for scholarly purposes.

      == Conclusion ==

      Seeing as I have just mentioned scholars I thought that know was probably the time to mention that it is clear from the number of references in the back of this book that 'In the Realm of Elizabeth' has been thoroughly researched and is therefore more than suitable for those wishing to use the book for study. A well-known modern historical books publisher has also published it and therefore will more easily be recognised as solid information.

      All in all I can't really find fault with this book as in my opinion it is a real gem. Personally I bought the book because I wish to specialise in the Tudor period as a whole but I have seen with my own eyes how the book is good for those just wanting an overview or a few details here and there. The book itself doesn't seem to have an RRP but I purchased my copy for £4 for a discount bookstore and it is available on play.com for £9.99 and on Amazon Marketplace from £6.50.

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