Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Queen’s Pirates

The Queen’s Pirates

Derek Parker
Nonfiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Scholastic Children’s Books UK, 2004   ISBN: 978-0439963121

Queen Elizabeth was undoubtedly one of the most powerful and well know queens of all time. Famous for her courage, for her unwedded state, and for the prosperity that she brought her country, Elizabeth was surrounded by men who sought her favor. Two of these men were Walter Ralegh and Francis Drake. Both from the south of England and both keen to go out on expeditions to far off lands, Ralegh and Drake served their queen very well. Both helped to protect England in time of trouble and war and both enriched the queen?s coffers with gold, silver, goods, and other costly items. Both acquired these goods through piracy, and both acquired a reputation as pirates as a result. Their victims were usually Spanish vessels and upsetting the Spanish was a favourite past time of theirs.

The difference between them was partly one of upbringing and partly one of personality. Ralegh was born of a revered old family and the queen enjoyed his company so much that she was loath to let Ralegh leave her side, refusing to let him sail away as was his wish. Drake on the other hand came from a poor family and he personally went out on his ships, making long voyages to lands far away. Ralegh would have liked to go on the expeditions he arranged but he was rarely given permission to do so. Instead he had to stay at court, on hand for when his queen needed his council or his companionship. Because of this high favor given to him by the queen, Ralegh was not well liked at court and he quite a few enemies who would have been happy to see him fall from favour.

Derek Parker superbly presents these two royal pirates in such a way that we can see how alike they were despite their different upbringing and lifestyles. These were two men who thrived on danger and excitement, and who relished the attention they received from their queen. Their personalities were so strong that it is hard to imagine the Elizabethan era without thinking of the two Devon men who brought glory to England and her queen.