Lucy Wooding

For Queen and Country

Burghley: William Cecil at the Court of Elizabeth I

By

Yale University Press 412pp £25 order from our bookshop

As a nation, we love the Tudors. We treasure their culture, poetry and theatre, their palaces, pictures and costumes. We cherish their armour, their castles and, to a certain extent, their prejudices about foreigners. Above all, we delight in their characters – bold, histrionic, tortured, vengeful and flamboyant. For Tudor historians, this is both a blessing and a curse. It is great that so many people are fascinated by this period in history, but this kind of enthusiasm inevitably perverts history. We want to improve on the story, embellish the characters. We want it to be like the historical novel, or the TV series, without the ambiguities and uncertainties of history. 

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