From Tudor to Stuart: The Regime Change from Elizabeth I to James I by Susan Doran - review by John Guy

John Guy

Long Live the Late Queen!

From Tudor to Stuart: The Regime Change from Elizabeth I to James I


Oxford University Press 656pp £30

In 1603, Elizabeth I died after a reign of almost forty-five years, to be succeeded by James VI of Scotland. Her reputation then was ‘far less rosy’ than it is today. She had long declined to marry or name a successor, and yet the regime changed from Tudor to Stuart with apparent ease, leaving the institutions of government, Parliament and the Church ‘fundamentally intact’. The questions Susan Doran poses are how did this come about and what happened next?

Structured thematically in three parts (‘Succession and Accession’, ‘People and Institutions’, ‘Religion and Politics’), each one subdivided into topical, analytical chapters (for instance, ‘Courts and Courtiers’, ‘Parliament and its Members’, ‘Protestants and Puritans’), From Tudor to Stuart continues the rehabilitation of James begun by Jenny Wormald, taking the story up to the death of Robert Cecil in 1612. Banished for ever are the compulsively readable slanders of the minor courtier Anthony Weldon depicting a whimsical, drunken, foul-mouthed, bisexual James. His drinking and dependence on male favourites, in any case, were scarcely intrusive in the early years of his reign.

Doran opens with detailed descriptions of Elizabeth’s death and funeral, of James’s journey south and of his coronation. She pays little attention to the covert planning for change that started in 1598, which minimises the sense of jeopardy and diminishes the drama. At the hub of a tight cabal of

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