The omens were not good. When Elizabeth came to the throne, she inherited a country riven by religious dispute and almost bankrupted by decades of poor governance. And then she broke all the rules. She refused to provide an heir, the one security every nation needed. * She spurned personal security, preferring her own private liberty, whatever the risks. * She refused to make quick decisions - and often to make decisions at all. * She marginalised the Privy Council. * She shamelessly encouraged favourites at court. * She supported outright piracy against enemies of the state. * She scorned military power. Yet she successfully reversed the nation's religious settlement and left behind a peaceful, prosperous and more united nation. She saw off countless would-be coups and defeated an invasion from the greatest power in Europe. And she oversaw a cultural explosion that defines England to this day. How? If this is your first encounter with Elizabeth, you are in for a treat.