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The Queen's Bed: An Intimate History of Elizabeth's Courtby Anna Whitelock
Synopses & Reviews
From the private world of a beloved English queen, a story of intimacy, royalty, espionage, rumor, and subterfuge
Queen Elizabeth I acceded to the throne in 1558, restoring the Protestant faith to England. At the heart of the new queens court lay her bedchamber, closely guarded by the favored women who helped her dress, looked after her jewels, and shared her bed.
Elizabeths private life was of public concern. Her bedfellows were witnesses to the face and body beneath the makeup and raiment, as well as to rumored dalliances with such figures as Earl Robert Dudley. Their presence was for security as well as propriety, as the kingdom was haunted by fears of assassination plots and other Catholic stratagems. Such was the significance of the queens body: it represented the very British state itself.
In The Queens Bed, the historian Anna Whitelock offers a revealing look at the Elizabethan court and the politics of intimacy. She dramatically reconstructs, for the first time, the queens quarters and the women who patrolled them. It is a story of sex, gossip, conspiracy, and intrigue brought to life amid the colors, textures, smells, and routines of the royal court.
The women who attended the queen held the truth about her health, chastity, and fertility. They were her friends, confidantes, and spies—nobody knew her better. And until now, historians have overlooked them. The Queens Bed is a revelatory, insightful look into their daily lives—the untold story of the queen laid bare.
"Whitelock, director of the public history program at the University of London's Royal Holloway College, follows up on her 2010 biography of Mary I, Mary Tudor, with a history of the reign of Mary's younger sister and successor to the English throne, Elizabeth I. Maintaining the health and safety of the queen's physical body was essential to maintaining peace within the realm, Whitelock argues, in a monograph that explores both the merging and diverging of Elizabeth's private life and public persona. It was a process that was orchestrated, not just by Elizabeth herself, but also by the elite women who attended her in her private chambers. Elizabeth's body represented the state itself to her subjects; thus her private life always was of public concern, from the questions concerning her virginity that arose before she acceded to the throne and continued unabated even after her death, to the unrelenting pressure upon her for decades to marry and bear children. This intimate portrait of Elizabeth's private life, as refracted through her relationships with the ladies of her bedchamber, will engage any readers wishing for a more balanced portrait of Elizabeth the flawed human being, as opposed to simply another rehashing of the mythical representations of her as Gloriana." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Queen Elizabeth I acceded to the throne in 1558, restoring the Protestant faith to England. For over forty years, her bedchamber was the heart of court. Elizabeths private life was of public concern: her body represented the State itself, and her bedfellows were charged with safeguarding both the Queen and her propriety. These women bore witness to the figure beneath the makeup and the raiment, and also to the Queens rumored dalliances. They were her friends, confidantes, and spies—nobody knew her better. And until now, historians have overlooked them.
In The Queens Bed, the historian Anna Whitelock offers a revealing look at the Elizabethan court and the politics of intimacy, dramatically reconstructing the Queens quarters and the women who patrolled them. With expert research and lively prose, Whitelock weaves a fascinating tale of sex, gossip, conspiracy, and intrigue, brought to life amid the colors, textures, and routines of the court: the untold story of Elizabeth I laid bare.
About the Author
Anna Whitelock received her PhD in history from Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, in 2004 with a thesis on the court of Mary I. Her articles and book reviews on various aspects of Tudor history have appeared in many publications, including The Guardian, The Times Literary Supplement, and BBC History. She has taught at Cambridge University and is now a lecturer in early modern history and the director of public history at Royal Holloway, University of London.
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