Imatge de l'autor

J. E. Neale (1890–1975)

Autor/a de Elizabeth I

12+ obres 843 Membres 9 Ressenyes 1 preferits

Sobre l'autor


Obres de J. E. Neale

Obres associades

History : the journal of the Historical Association, October 1951 (1951) — Col·laborador; Book reviewer — 1 exemplars


Coneixement comú

Nom oficial
Neale, John Ernest, Sir
Data de naixement
Data de defunció
Lloc d'enterrament
Harrogate, England, UK
University College London
University of Manchester
Premis i honors
Knight Bachelor (1955)



The best way to describe this book is given by the author in the introduction: "short and lucid popularization of a story which is as dramatic as it is complicated and confusing". It is not a research on Catherine de Medici, nor it is an autobiography. The same introduction makes clear that they are not a product of a real research (and Neale knows what research really means). What this book contains are 4 lectures, written in 1938 about France and Catherine de Medici -- from an Elizabethan scholar who does not attempt to claim that he is a specialist in the French history. At the same time, he knows the period very well and the story of England and France is interconnected at this time.

The 4 lectures form an almost continuous narrative even if they are specialized in a way. Catherine is the main focus for the later ones; France for the earlier. And the story is all there - the death of the French kings that allow Catherine to rule, her mistakes that complicate the situation, the religious wars, the St. Bartholomew Massacre. What emerges from the book is a Catherine de Medici, the mother that tries and fails to be the politician, the ruler, the equal to Elizabeth (even if they are not directly compared, the shadows are there; or maybe I was seeing them because I know who the author is and I had read his work on Elizabeth).

At the end, the book delivers on its promise. It's not what you would expect from a book titled like that today but anyone reading a publication from 1943 (when the lectures are collected in a book) knows what they can expect. It's closer to popular history than scholar one but it does not cross the border completely. And if someone does not feel like reading a huge volume about all this, the book gives an alternative. And it definitely shows another face of the author - until now anything I had read from him was concentrated on Elizabeth.
… (més)
1 vota
AnnieMod | Hi ha 1 ressenya més | Mar 31, 2012 |
In the preface of the book (which is really an introduction and an essay rolled into one), J. E. Neale explains how he chose which essays to publish in this book -- admitting that there are some works that should never be reprinted and leaving out the ones that led to full books (which pretty much leaves out any work on both Houses of the Parliament which is a pity). But even with these restrictions, the 11 essays are diverse enough - some of them are speeches or newspaper publications (so they lack the usual apparatus of foot notes and explanations), some are regular articles from different professional editions and some are highly technical (and Neale does warn about that in the Preface).

I keep calling this first essay a Preface or an Introduction because it serves the role of one and allows the author to present his book. But at the same time it is actually called "November 17th" and is an examination of the day through the centuries. One thing need to be noted for the volume as well - it does get repetitive in places - these essays had been written in the span of a few decades, for different occasions and a lot of them make the same point. I suspect that if I had read them separately, a few per day instead of straight through the book, I would not have noticed that. But then repetition of this type does not bother me too much - when someone reads a lot about a given period of history, one gets used to repetitions.

"The Elizabethan Age" written in 1950 as the Creighton Lecture is one of the pieces that can be dated to its year almost immediately. WWII is too fresh for everyone at this point and the comparisons with Hitler's Germany and with Churchill are well represented. Not that Neale will use only these comparisons - he does delve into the poetry and the history of the times but I still wonder how this essay would have sounded if it was written 15 years earlier. On the other hand the connections and similarities are way too clear to be ignored...

"The Accession of Queen Elizabeth I" (written for History Today in 1953) is one of the shorter essays in the book and is a reexamination of how she came to power; together with a few details on how and why the story of Jane Grey did not repeat itself.

The British Academy Raleigh Lecture in 1948 is called "The Elizabethan Political Scene" is the first one to start talking about finances and the systems of payments and fees and gratuities - a theme that will show up in later essays in the book (although they are written earlier in time). It's a sharp description of the favorites and the money; of the Court life and the ways people get their rewards and it contains a lot of stories about all of these - taken from primary sources and known to the scholars but nevertheless illustrating the point brilliantly.

"The Sayings of Queen Elizabeth" (1925, History) is unusual. The reason for the essay is Chamberlin's new book (and the name of the book lends its name to the article). Neale proceeds to explain how bad scholar Frederick Chamberlin is and why and how what he calls history is wishful thinking (not with these words but that is the general idea) and then departs from this topic (and returns only if he has another bad remark to make) and proceeds to write an article about what the name is saying it will be about - examining examples of thoughts and writings that are credited to Elizabeth and arguing about their authenticity. I really enjoyed the article but at the same time I would have loved for him to spend more time on the second part than on the first,

What follows is another article of its time - originally published as "Elizabeth I and her Cold War" in a 1955 issue of Saturday Review. When reprinted here, it gets a new name ("The via media in Politics: A Historical Parallel") and I find that second name a lot more fitting. Considering the time, it is not surprising that a historian will search parallels or that one of the biggest Elizabethan scholars will find one in the Elizabethan world. Her Cold War is the question of religion of course - caught between the Puritans and the Catholics. And we all know how this one ended. It's a nice essay but reading it after the end of our own Cold War, it sounds more nostalgic than anything else. Not that the scholarship is not there - but a historical fact depends on its usage and here the parallel is brought to the fore.

What follows are the three most technical essays - and while the first two can be read from pretty much anyone, the third would probably be interesting only to someone that really likes the period and understands it. "The Diplomatic Envoy" (1928) is about the Calendars and the ambassador profession in the 16th century; about the traditions and the sources; about reliability and interpretation. And it is a great introduction for the next article "The Fame of Edward Stafford" (1929) which is dealing with the same topics but taking one example and going through the sources about it. I am not sure how readable this essays is for someone that does not know enough about the main players - the details are there to some extent but it is written in a lot more technical way than the previous ones. This pair of essays were the ones that really shined for me - they are two sides of the same coin and in a way are presenting the power of Neale in the period.

The one that follows is the one that will bore most of the readers - it is a non-stop account of money and money problems -- and its name is pointing to the exact topic pretty nicety: "Elizabeth and the Netherlands, 1586-87" (1930). Neale does not try to argue that this is a disaster but he is trying to argue that Elizabeth actually did all she should have done and it was Leicester's fault that she ended up looking stingy. Leicester is not innocent but at the same time he is not the only one responsible (and Neale does point other errors in passing but concentrates on Leicester). The essay has a huge number of small bits of information about the way soldiers were paid in those days. At the same time, it is full of numbers and exact details - it makes it a great article for someone that likes this type of information (anyone that likes reading Household accounts will probably love it) but it makes it a very technical and challenging - and quite on a different level from everything else in the book, even from the Stafford essay. And mentioning Stafford, Neale mentions him in a foot note - not sure if the note was part of the original publication of the story though.

And after these 3 articles, the next one is back in style to the earlier part of the book: "English Local Government: A Historical Retrospect" (a lecture in 1935) is a nice overview of the local government and its parts in the 16th century (although that article can be called a bit technical as well).

The book closes with an article about the Biographical Approach to history (get as many biographies from the period and see what you can see), written in 1951 and the obituary for A. F. Pollard - Neale's tutor and one of the big English historians.

With all this being said, it should be obvious that I enjoyed the book a lot. And if someone is interested in the period, I would recommend the book (with the warning about its year of publication and all the scholarship since). And for the most part, it should work for anyone that likes history. But then I am prejudiced - I am interested in the period :)
… (més)
AnnieMod | Mar 13, 2012 |
I have read almost every book on Queen Elizabeth that has been written; necessary research since I have portrayed her over the past 15 years. This is a good book, not the best but an excellent biography. Everyone has distinct opinions about her, her governance and her foibles. The trick in coming to understand QEI is to read everything on both ends of the spectrum and then steer your way somewhere down the middle. This is one of the better biographies, in my opinion
RowanGolightly | Hi ha 5 ressenyes més | Dec 6, 2009 |



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