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An intimate account of a remarkable national transformation: how Queen Elizabeth I set out to capture the hearts of her people.A brilliant picture of Queen Elizabeth I's life emerges here, beginning with her birth—her father Henry VIII had desired a male heir—punctuated by conspiracies, and endangered during the period of rule by her Catholic half-sister Mary, whom she succeeded in 1558. It gave her an enduring sense that to remain on the throne she must encourage the love of her people. In plays and pageants, in cameos, medallions, and portraits, and through the furnishings and gardens of the great country houses, the royal image was specifically tailored to evoke devotion. To love Elizabeth was to love England, and the Queen personified both an era and a national style.Watkins skillfully recreates court life in the palaces along the Thames, and in the nearly sixty royal houses that were Elizabeth's inheritance. An important part of the spectacle was the royal progress to the great country houses of her subjects. An Elizabethan house was not just an architectural achievement: it was often the literal embodiment of a relationship with the monarch. Throughout, Mark Fiennes' inspired photography, together with portraits, paintings, tapestries, and personal objects, give visual expression to the nation's evolving love affair with its queen. 157 illustrations, 154 in color.