Elizabeth's Women: Friends, Rivals, and Foes Who Shaped the Virgin Queen

Elizabeth's Women: Friends, Rivals, and Foes Who Shaped the Virgin Queen

Tracy Borman

Language: English

Pages: 496

ISBN: 055380698X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

A source of endless fascination and speculation, the subject of countless biographies, novels, and films, Elizabeth I is now considered from a thrilling new angle by the brilliant young historian Tracy Borman. So often viewed in her relationships with men, the Virgin Queen is portrayed here as the product of women—the mother she lost so tragically, the female subjects who worshipped her, and the peers and intimates who loved, raised, challenged, and sometimes opposed her.

In vivid detail, Borman presents Elizabeth’s bewitching mother, Anne Boleyn, eager to nurture her new child, only to see her taken away and her own life destroyed by damning allegations—which taught Elizabeth never to mix politics and love. Kat Astley, the governess who attended and taught Elizabeth for almost thirty years, invited disaster by encouraging her charge into a dangerous liaison after Henry VIII’s death. Mary Tudor—“Bloody Mary”—envied her younger sister’s popularity and threatened to destroy her altogether. And animosity drove Elizabeth and her cousin Mary Queen of Scots into an intense thirty-year rivalry that could end only in death.

Elizabeth’s Women contains more than an indelible cast of characters. It is an unprecedented account of how the public posture of femininity figured into the English court, the meaning of costume and display, the power of fecundity and flirtation, and how Elizabeth herself—long viewed as the embodiment of feminism—shared popular views of female inferiority and scorned and schemed against her underlings’ marriages and pregnancies.

Brilliantly researched and elegantly written, Elizabeth’s Women is a unique take on history’s most captivating queen and the dazzling court that surrounded her.

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not have the Lord Robert.” Kat and her husband then cooked up a further scheme to convince Eric of the Queen’s intention to marry him. Their inspiration came from John’s position as keeper of the jewel house. Dymock had planned to take some jewels to Sweden in order to sell them to the royal family for the new king’s coronation. He first asked John Astley if the Queen might like to buy some herself. John duly went to show the jewels to his royal mistress, who took a liking to one of them—a large

at the conclusion that the marriage is one that is favourable to our interests and should be forwarded and supported to the full extent of our power.” In panic, Elizabeth sent word expressly forbidding Darnley from marrying the Scottish queen, claiming that it would be “unmeet, unprofitable, and perilous to the sincere amity between Queens and their realms.”101 She also ordered both him and his father to return to England at once. When this went unanswered, she had Lady Margaret placed under

failed to win enough support, they remained troublesome opponents to Mary’s regime, and her hold on the crown began to look increasingly tenuous. Elizabeth was still reeling from the news of Mary’s marriage to Darnley when another scandal involving one of her cousins broke at court. Lady Mary Grey had disregarded everything she should have learned from her elder sister’s example by marrying in secret. She was an unlikely romantic heroine. Having been born with a crooked spine, as an adult she

succession, not—as Elizabeth might have hoped—in her favor, but in that of his young cousin, Lady Jane Grey. This was not just unexpected, it was illegal, and Mary knew it. When Edward died on July 6, she immediately sent the council letters claiming her right to the throne. For once, her characteristic stubbornness won her the day. Convinced of the justice of her cause, she mustered considerable forces in East Anglia, where she had fled upon hearing that her brother was close to death, knowing

persuaded.”39 This was a masterly performance on Elizabeth’s part. At a stroke, she had convinced her half sister that she genuinely repented her perceived disobedience in religion without actually committing herself to adopting the Catholic faith. Mary was apparently taken in immediately and expressed herself “exceedingly glad to see her turn to such good resolves,” assuring her that she would at once arrange for her to be instructed in the old religion. But Elizabeth’s mask soon slipped.

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