- With unparalleled access to original letters, and more primary source material than any previous biographer, Nadine Akkerman, the foremost authority on Elizabeth Stuart, gives the reader new interpretations of Elizabeth and her life, showing many long-held views of her to be false
- Draws from years of research on Elizabeth Stuart’s use of cipher codes and her network of correspondents
- Incorporates the most up-to-date thinking on court culture, women’s history and European history
- Resituates the Stuart age within its European context, moving away from Anglo-centric, patriarchal readings.
Elizabeth Stuart is one the most misrepresented – and underestimated – figures of the seventeenth century. Daughter of James VI & I, she was married to Frederick V, Elector Palatine in 1613 – they were crowned King and Queen of Bohemia in 1619, only to be deposed and exiled to the Dutch Republic in 1620. Elizabeth then found herself at the epicentre of the political and military struggles that were the Thirty Years’ War and the Civil Wars.
Labelled a spendthrift more interested in the theatre and her pet monkeys than politics or her children, and long pitied as ‘The Winter Queen’, Nadine Akkerman’s biography reveals an altogether different woman, one forged in the white heat of European conflict. Through deep immersion in the archives and masterful detective work, Akkerman overturns the received view of Elizabeth Stuart, showing her to be a patron of the arts and canny stateswoman with a sharp wit and a long memory. Following her husband’s death in 1632, Elizabeth fostered a cult of widowhood, dressing herself and her apartments in black, and conducted a long and fierce political campaign to regain her children’s birthright – by force, if possible – wielding her pen with the same deft precision with which she once speared boars from horseback.
On returning to England in 1661, she found a country whose people still considered her their ‘Queen of Hearts’. Akkerman’s biography reveals the impact Elizabeth Stuart had on both England and Europe, for better or worse; she was more than simply George I’s grandmother.
Praise for Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Hearts:
5 stars … [a] masterful, transformative biography. (Sir Noel Malcolm, Daily Telegraph)
In Queen of Hearts, Nadine Akkerman combines matchless archival expertise with a story-teller’s instinct to give new life to one of the seventeenth century’s most misunderstood women. A gripping tale. (Natalie Zemon Davis)
An extraordinary biography of a much-maligned and much-forgotten queen… Akkerman knows her archive as few have ever done, and demonstrates how to resurrect an early modern woman. (Suzannah Lipscomb, Books of the Year 2021, BBC History Magazine)
Akkerman situates astonishingly comprehensive research against an even more complicated background, rooting her account in diplomatic reports, Elizabeth’s own correspondence and numerous illustrations… [Her] erudite, pacey narration of the frustrations, downturns and highlights of Elizabeth’s life make for compelling reading. I was gripped. (Anna Groundwater, Literary Review)
A scholarly and fascinating account of both an extraordinary woman and of the time in which she lived. Using original source materials, much of which has not been seen before, Dr Akkerman is particularly skilled at showing how easily women can be misrepresented or erased from history. (Kate Mosse)
Akkerman’s sensitivity to literary and cultural symbolism deeply enriches this biography […] After all the macho chevaliers who served her in life, this Elizabeth has found a superb and sisterly champion in death. (Kate Maltby, The Spectator)
This excellent book sheds light on a part of Scottish history – and European history – that is too little known. It is also a reclamation of a figure of genuine significance and strength. You will not get the new George RR Martin under the tree this year, but this has the intrigue and horror of Westeros. It even has a champion with a prosthetic silver arm. And nowhere in George RR Martin is there a monarch fleeing a capital city with a carriage full of monkeys. (Stuart Kelly, The Scotsman)
[Akkerman’s book] comprises both personal and political history in which, seamlessly, Elizabeth’s reported giggles at her wedding to Frederick of the Palatinate and her dislike of purgatives keep company with – and are as well handled as – Count Mansfeld’s military advances on Breda. (Steven Veerapen, Aspects of History)