History, Department of


Date of this Version

Summer 2009


Published in The Historian 71:2 (Summer 2009), pp. 427–429; doi 10.1111/j.1540-6563.2009.00240_65.x Copyright © 2009 Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society, published by John Wiley & Sons. Used by permission.


The author of this study is not the first biographer to bring Elizabeth I and Mary Stuart together, but her study of these queens applies a specific lens to the enterprise: the negotiation and influence of marriage on their lives and reigns. Beginning with the question of how marriage “affected queens regnant in the age of absolute monarchies,” Anka Muhlstein proceeds to explore how marriage affected Elizabeth and Mary from their earliest years as young princesses through the constant pressures to find appropriate husbands amidst political and religious rivalries (1). Elizabeth never married, and Muhlstein’s central argument is that Elizabeth’s ability to navigate her long reign as an unmarried queen is a result, in large part, of her witnessing the mistakes and misfortunes of the marriages surrounding her, particularly those of her cousin Mary, who was betrothed in the cradle and married no less than three times. ... Muhlstein’s book is engaging and well written and should appeal to a wide audience.

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