This book is about the politics and political culture of the 'last decade' of the reign of Elizabeth I, in effect the years 1585 to 1603. It argues that this period was so distinctive that it amounted to the second of two 'reigns'. It also invites readers, at times provocatively, to take a critical look at the declining Virgin Queen. Many teachers and their students have failed to consider the 'last decade' in its own right, or have ignored it, having begun their accounts in 1558 and struggled on to the defeat of the Armada in 1588. Only two major political surveys have been attempted since 1926. Both consider mainly the war with Spain and the politics of war, and each allots inadequate space to Crown patronage, puritanism and religion, society and the economy, political thought, and literature and drama. This book, written by some of the leading scholars of their generation, will be indispensable to a fuller understanding of the age.
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