After Elizabeth

Posted Sat, 02/25/06

Another book to add to my history library:

I received my copy in the mail last Wednesday, and I finished it a few hours later. I couldn't put it down. I haven't read much about the reign of James VI and I, so I enjoyed the historical account.

There were a few snippets I was not aware of before reading the book, which surprised me. I thought I'd heard it all. Quoted bits from the book are noted:

James VI played the cordial neighbor of Elizabeth I during her reign – even through the execution of his mother Mary Queen of Scots in 1587 – but as he made his way to London after Elizabeth's death in 1603, he made it known he wanted Elizabeth's funeral to take place before he arrived. "It was said that he did not want to pay his respects to his mother's killer" and that "Elizabeth's portrait is being hidden everywhere, and Mary Stuart's shown instead with declaration that she suffered for no other cause than her religion."

The Privy Council decided not to bury Elizabeth until one month after her death, but were at a loss as what to do with her rotting body. "The shoddy work of the embalmers and the warm spring weather had allowed the Queen's body to deteriorate with horrific consequences." The late Queen's ladies were kneeling by Elizabeth's coffin one night "when they heard a crack. It was discovered on investigation that the wood of the coffin, the lead underneath it and the cerecloth had split as the fumes from the decomposing corpse had burst out."

It was very sad to read. It is revolting to think Elizabeth I - in all her former glory - was left to rot. The only consolation is that her heir James did not enjoy a popular reign.

After Elizabeth is definitely worth a read.