By Anna Whitelock
From the non-public international of a liked English queen, a narrative of intimacy, royalty, espionage, rumor, and subterfuge
Queen Elizabeth I acceded to the throne in 1558, restoring the Protestant religion to England. on the middle of the recent queen's courtroom lay her bedchamber, heavily guarded through the well-liked girls who helped her costume, taken care of her jewels, and shared her bed.
Elizabeth's deepest existence used to be of public hindrance. Her bedfellows have been witnesses to the face and physique underneath the make-up and raiment, in addition to to rumored dalliances with such figures as Earl Robert Dudley. Their presence used to be for safety in addition to propriety, because the nation was once haunted by means of fears of assassination plots and different Catholic stratagems. Such used to be the importance of the queen's physique: it represented the very British nation itself.
In The Queen's Bed, the historian Anna Whitelock deals a revealing examine the Elizabethan courtroom and the politics of intimacy. She dramatically reconstructs, for the 1st time, the queen's quarters and the ladies who patrolled them. it's a tale of intercourse, gossip, conspiracy, and intrigue dropped at existence amid the colours, textures, smells, and exercises of the royal court.
the ladies who attended the queen held the reality approximately her future health, chastity, and fertility. They have been her buddies, confidantes, and spies―nobody knew her higher. And earlier, historians have ignored them. The Queen's Bed is a revelatory, insightful check out their day-by-day lives―the untold tale of the queen laid bare.
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Additional info for The Queen's Bed: An Intimate History of Elizabeth's Court
In early August she had turn into in poor health having walked past due within the chilly evening air and hunted an excessive amount of the day before today; and a bit greater than every week later she used to be back being affected by belly pains which left her bedridden for 2 days. As Antonio de Guarras said, ‘it is expounded that she used to be dangerously in poor health for one or nights yet is now recovered’. 29 Then, in past due September, amid fears and anxiousness approximately threats in another country and Catholic plotting at domestic, Elizabeth fell unwell at Windsor. On 15 October, Sir Thomas Smith instructed Cecil, ‘her Majesty hath been very unwell this final evening, in order that my Lord of Leicester did watch together with her all evening. This morning, thank you be to God! She is particularly good. It used to be yet a sodden pang. I pray God to lengthy protect her. those be clever alarms. ’30 Cecil wrote to Walsingham of the ‘sudden alarm’ the former evening whilst the Queen ‘being all at once ill in her abdominal, and as all of sudden relieved by means of a vomit’. 31 The ailment used to be considered one other bout of smallpox, yet provided that we now understand the illness is non-recurring, it's not transparent what it used to be. One unsigned letter of intelligence, dated 26 October, to the Duke of Alba, defined how ‘the Queen has been very unwell and the illness proved to be smallpox’. As Elizabeth lay in mattress sick, her councillors had once again sought to settle the succession and mentioned the possibility, within the occasion of the Queen’s dying, of proclaiming one of many sons of Catherine gray as King. 32 On her restoration, Elizabeth wrote to the Earl of Shrewsbury, Mary Queen of Scots’s gaoler, explaining that she used to be good and the suspected relapse had left no marks on her face: pink spots started to appear in our face, wish to be smallpox, yet, thank you be to God, and opposite to the expectancy of her physicians and others, they vanished away and at this present day, we thank God, we're so unfastened from any token or mark of such a illness that none can conjecture this sort of factor … My devoted Shrewsbury, allow now not grief contact your center for worry of my disorder, for I guarantee you, if my credits weren't more than my convey, there is not any beholder could think that I were touched with the sort of illness. 33 A postscript within the Queen’s personal hand reiterated her element: ‘I guarantee you, if my credits weren't more than my convey, there's no beholder could think that ever I were touched with one of these illness. ’34 It used to be very important for Elizabeth to emphasize that she had no longer been left scarred. exact prayers of thanksgiving for the maintenance of the Queen and the area from her enemies have been now for use in church buildings around the kingdom: O God, such a lot merciful Father, who in Thy nice mercies hast either given unto us a peaceful princess and a gracious Queen, and likewise hast quite often and miraculously stored her from sundry nice perils and risks, and through her executive hast preserved us and the full realm from manifold mischiefs and dreadful plagues, wherewith international locations around approximately us were and be so much grievously bothered, have mercy upon them, O Lord …35 If Elizabeth died, civil battle and invasion may absolutely stick with.