History, Department of


Date of this Version

Winter 2000


Published in Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 53, No. 4 (Winter, 2000), pp. 1239-1240 Copyright © 2000 Renaissance Society of America; published by The University of Chicago Press. Used by permission.


A. N. McLaren's study of political culture in the first part of the reign of Elizabeth is a thoughtful and thoroughly researched study that deals with the connections between ideology and politics, on how concepts of hierarchy, patriarchy, and commonwealth changed in the reign of Elizabeth I. McLaren places her work within a strong historiographical context that particularly follows the scholarship of John Guy and Patrick Collinson while also imposing Anthony Fletcher's "lens of gender." McLaren places the debate on queenship within a broad context and argues that it led not only to the 1601 Essex rebellion but eventually to critiques on kings as well and the execution of Charles I in 1649. By the middle of the seventeenth century arguments against queen as sovereign had become applicable to an English male incumbent of the crown. ... The research for the study and the analysis are both first rate, though occasionally McLaren's writing style becomes pretentious, making the book less accessible. Readers should persevere, however, as Political Culture in the Reign of Elizabeth I asks scholars to think about the connections between ideology and politics in new and important ways.

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