AFTER ELIZABETH; The Rise of James of Scotland and the Struggle for the Throne of England

At the dawn of the 17th-century, when Queen Elizabeth had grown old, the eyes of England turned to Mary, Queen of Scots’ son, James, as the rising sun in the Tudor kingdom.

‘After Elizabeth’ focuses on the intense period of raised hopes and dashed expectations between Christmas 1602 and Christmas 1603, the close of the Tudor period, and the opening of the Stuart era, when England and Scotland became united under one monarch for the first time.

It is a story in which fortunes were to be made and lives lost as courtiers vied for power. As well as describing Elizabethan court life, ‘After Elizabeth’ explores the corruption and persecutions which set the stage for King James’s accession to the throne of England, and the forces that shaped him: his separation from his mother, the violence of his Scottish kingdom, and his marriage to his queen, Anna.

Drawing extensively from Tudor and Stuart accounts, After Elizabeth paints a detailed picture of the cusp of the two eras, bringing to life a period of glamour and intrigue, that marked the beginning of a new age.


We enter a slippery, twilight world where legitimacy is debased and conspiracy and corruption thrive. This is an original, informative, absorbing account, written with verve and style.
John Guy
This masterly account recaptures superbly the edgy, wary feel of court and country at the key moment when Tudor England was transformed into Stuart Britain.
Andrew Roberts
Leanda de Lisle's close focus draws us into palace corridors, country houses and city streets where the excitement, intrigue and danger of the times are palpable.
Jane Dunn

Readers Reviews


“This is a brilliant book to read, covering an area of history that's often mentioned in passing but not looked at in detail.
The author writes in detail about the last couple of years of Elizabeth I's life, with some fascinating insights to her interactions with her council and courtiers and her reasons and reluctance to name an heir.

The accession of James I, is written about in good amounts of detail also; looking at all the problems faced, the factions that couldn't agree on certain subjects (that endangered the stability and wealth of both England and Scotland), religion and the endless plots, which always make excellent reading.

There are some great insights into some of the famous courtiers of the time such as Sir Walter Ralegh(and his ultimate demise) and Robert Cecil et al. The author brings forward evidence and quotes from the time period to interpret the state of play with all the main "players" of the time, and how they dealt with the change from a Tudor to a Stuart monarch.

This is a fantastic, rounded and objective book. The reader gets a really good feel for the character that James was, and the way in which he dealt with situations compared to Elizabeth's reign.

A really enjoyable read, that was hard to put down. 5 stars!”


“This book is really good, I couldn't put it down. It is an aspect that is given little considerable investigation in many books but this is an enlightening insight.

It follows the scramble for political favour with the new King as the death of the old Queen Elizabeth approaches despite her sturdy will against the inevitable. We encounter the reasons behind James's famous strange behaviour and his journey south to take the crown of England.
I was never very interested in the political side of the Elizabethan age until I read this book and it is fascinating to see the intrigue and back-stabbing that took place all in the name of royal favour.

It also brings to life the character of King James I, of which I had little knowledge before reading this book. It is possible to see the delight in the subjects for their new King slip away as his true character is revealed and I was surprised how quickly plots against him started cropping up.
It inspired me to want to learn more about James I and the Gunpowder Plot.”


“There are more that look, as it is said, to the rising than to the setting sun'. So said Elizabeth I as she faced her inevitable death and displacement as ruler of England by her cousin James VI of Scotland. And so begins Leanda de Lisle's compelling and elegantly written book. 'After Elizabeth' unravels the tangled skein of intrigue, plot and faction that surrounded James' accession and in doing so reveals the bloody and desperate politics of fortune that underpinned the dawn of the Stuart dynasty.
In telling the story, Leanda de Lisle demonstrates a masterly, accomplished understanding of the period, combined with a keen eye for those gems of historical detail that rev every good account into life. So we see the sorry demise of the once-glorious Elizabeth, now a black-toothed, bad-tempered old crone, festering to death, her cheeks stuffed with rags and her body almost physically incapable of carrying the burden of her own ceremonial robes at the opening of parliament. And as we journey south from Edinburgh with James - strange-looking, poorly dressed and physically weakened by a defect of birth - the whole of seventeenth-century England springs awake: riven by religious divisions; ravaged by plague; uncertain of its destiny under a peculiar new monarch.

Personalities, politics and places: Leanda de Lisle captures them all in style, and in doing so revives the last great story of the Tudors, and the first great story of the Stuarts.”


After Elizabeth: How James King of Scots Won the Crown of England in 1603;
Hardback: Publisher: HarperCollins

After Elizabeth: The Death of Elizabeth and the Coming of King James
Paperback: Publisher: Harper Perennial also Harperpress

After Elizabeth: The Rise of James of Scotland and the Struggle for the Throne of England: Publisher: Ballantine Books

Leanda de Lisle - After Elizabeth - Book Cover
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