Simon Adams

  • Burghley: William Cecil at the Court of Elizabeth I by Stephen Alford
    Yale, 412 pp, £25.00, May 2008, ISBN 978 0 300 11896 4

William Cecil, First Baron Burghley, served Elizabeth I for nearly forty years, as principal secretary and lord treasurer, and left an enormous body of papers. His correspondence, now dispersed in four major and a number of minor collections, dominates the political history of Elizabeth’s reign. Even more important, in some respects, are the unique series of memoranda written in his distinctive, neat and spidery hand. They range from scribbled notes from Privy Council meetings to long, near-academic assessments of policy, usually listing pros and cons and all too frequently concluding with ‘a mean way’.

The full text of this book review is only available to subscribers of the London Review of Books.

You are not logged in