September 19, 2011

Pale morning here after a glorious weekend of fall colors. Temp dropped to 40 degrees last night.

We watched an excellent History Channel program on Queen Elizabeth I, daughter of Henry VIII by Anne Boleyn and one of the great monarchs in English history. She was extremely well educated and learned from an early age the instability and rashness of people seeking power. She was kept in the Tower of London by her sister Queen Mary, known as Bloody Mary for her persecution of Protestants. Over 300 men, women, and children were burned in public executions for refusing to deny their Protestant faith and return to the Catholic Church. Mary died after five years on the throne and Elizabeth became queen. She reigned from 1559 to 1603, and long and eventful reign. The documentary is presented in person a la David Attenborough by David Starkey, a well known historian. The actors representing the various persons wear period costumes and occupy the actual settings, but mime the action as it is narrated. This sounds dull but actually works very well. The photography is outstanding.

The program is in four one-hour segments and gives a rich portrait of the Elizabethan Age of England, when Shakespeare, Raleigh, Drake, Bacon, Marlowe, Spenser, Wyatt, Campion, Mary Stuart, Phillip II of Spain (Queen Mary’s husband), and others who made history walked the earth. Elizabeth was a shrewd monarch who avoided wars whenever possible in an age consumed with religious strife. Catholics massacred Protestants in France and Holland and Ireland, Catholics were hanged in England, and many people were not very tolerant. By the time Elizabeth died, England was a Protestant country, but the Protestants fought among themselves, leading to the Civil Wars of the 1640s. Jesus would have been proud. Anyway, excellent factual production about a colorful period in English history.

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