David Starkey’s Elizabeth

Historian and host David Starkey takes a look at the life of Queen Elizabeth I, the most powerful woman in English history.

David Starkey’s Elizabeth spans four different episodes, encompassing queen Elizabeth’s emergence to power and following her historical 45 year long rule.

Her reign saw England emerge from the threat of European annexation to burst forth in a unique flowering of culture and became the world’s leading sea power.

This series covers one of the most glamorous and exciting reigns in English history, with bloodthirsty tales of sex, lust, murder and mayhem.

Episode 1: From The Prison To The Palace

Episode 1: From The Prison To The Palace

Episode one takes a look at Elizabeth’s early life, before she was coronated as queen.

This was a time with a lot of suffering for the young queen – including that of sexual abuse, imprisonment and her own mother being executed at the order of her father; King Henry VIII.

Starkey argues that an upbringing filled with this amount of abuse created a queen with a deep mistrust of men.

Episode 2: The Virgin Queen

Episode 2: The Virgin Queen

Episode two follows young Elizabeth on the seat of power in her early reign.

Starkey gives us an insight into the queen’s reluctance to marry and the drama surrounding her brief romance with court favourites like Lord Dudley.

It was a direct concern to her advisors who saw marriage with a foreign power to be the right calculated move for a stronger military and economic country.

And while these power struggles were brewing, another facilitated in England’s neighbouring country Scotland: Mary, Queen of Scots, was on a direct path to war to take Elizabeth’s throne.

Episode 3: Heart of a King

Episode 3: Heart of a King

Episode three takes a look at Elizabeth’s finest hour – the rout of the Spanish Armada in 1588.

Ironically, Elizabeth loathed war – as a woman, she could not lead her own troops and distrusted her military commanders.

Several factors contributed to the outbreak of War, including the assassination of William Prince of Orange and Elizabeth’s decision to execute her Catholic cousin, Mary Queen of Scots.

Episode 4: Gloriana

Episode 4: Gloriana

The final and fourth episode explores the remaining years of Queen Elizabeth’s rule

Following the defeat of the Spanish Armada, Elizabeth presided over a golden age in England.

National pride followed in the wake of the flourishing of literature, an age of prosperity and a new sense of England being a world power.

Yet, for Elizabeth herself – her problems with continue to plague her as she became older and more fragile.

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David Starkey’s Elizabeth
  • Info
  • Release date2000
  • Full runtime
  • Director(s)Steven Clarke, Mark Fielder