MNC Book Report: Elizabeth I: Profiles in Power by Christopher Haigh

If you ever want to write a novel of noble politics, or run or play in a game of the same, you should read this book. For my own part, I’m tempted to pick up other titles from the Profiles in Power series, to see if they’re as good.

This book isn’t about Elizabeth’s policies during her reign; it’s about how she made those policies happen (or not happen, as was sometimes the case). It’s about the realities of governance in the late sixteenth century, tracking chapter by chapter how Elizabeth related to and dealt with her position as queen, the church, the peerage, the Privy Council, the court, Parliament, the military, and the common people.

It isn’t the most flattering look in the world, either, which makes it a good antidote to the idolatry that often surrounds her; in fact, by the end I was feeling a little bit down, since Haigh covered in detail how Elizabeth’s government was petrifying and falling apart by the time she died. I was glad for the conclusion, where he pointed out that when all’s said and done, she survived on the throne for nearly forty-five years under some of the most adverse conditions imaginable, and that right there is a remarkable feat of politics. It helped restore some of my admiration for her, but it’s tempered now with some knowledge of her failures as well as her successes.

Reading this book, I understand much better how political factions operate: where their power comes from, how one can (and cannot) maneuver around them, what the consequences are of ignoring them, and so on. It makes me realize, too, how much work would go into setting up a political LARP and doing it right. I don’t know that I would ever have the energy to run something like that, or even to play in it, any more than I would have the energy to play politics for real. (I frankly wonder how Cecil didn’t keel over dead of stress decades sooner.)

But this will be useful information, not just for Midnight Never Come, but for Future Novel TIR, whenever it is that I get around to writing that one.

0 Responses to “MNC Book Report: Elizabeth I: Profiles in Power by Christopher Haigh”

  1. wrathchylde

    Thank you for the recommendation. That sounds exactly like the type of book that I have been looking for lately.

  2. milbrcrsan

    I know you’ve never heard of me before, but I finished reading Warrior and Witch just last night and I’ve never read anything that good! I think it’s officially raised to my favorite book. I love your writing and the way you had everything set up kept me reading and reading until I got a headache! lol I also thoroughly enjoyed how the book was ended as well!

    I thought I should pass my compliments along to you, you are truly are a great writer! 🙂

    • Marie Brennan

      I suppose I’ll take the headache as a compliment. ^_^ Welcome, and thanks for the kind words!

      • milbrcrsan

        I suppose I’ll take the headache as a compliment. Definitely! 😀 It was 100+% worth it! haha

        Thought I should also ask permission for me to watch you on my LiveJournal. If you have or even get the chance to check my LJ out, you can tell that I’m not a stalker ( :p ) and I’m actually quite into writing and costuming myself.

        I know what you’re probably already thinking, “oh, great. Another crazy fan to get a headache from”, but…this is such an honor, really. 😀 But then again, I feel slightly sorry for my friends and boyfriend who have to hear me talk about how great the book was everyday. :p

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