Historical Novelist writing from a woman's perspective in the Tudor and Medieval period. Her Tudor novels include The Winchester Goose, The Kiss of the Concubine, Intractable Heart and A Song of Sixpence. Medieval novels are Peaceweaver, The Song of Heledd, and The Forest Dwellers. All In paperback and on Kindle. Judith also writes historical blogs and articles.
Having close friends
is an important part of most women's lives from girlhood through womanhood.
These friends might be especially valuable when the woman's position is
exalted, public, and potentially treacherous—such friendships take on an even
more important role.
When Oprah Winfrey
started her empire she brought along Gayle King. When Kate Middleton was
preparing to become Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, her sister Pippa was her
constant companion. And when Anne Boleyn went to court to stay, she took her
friends too. Among them was her longtime friend, Meg Wyatt, who would
ultimately become her Chief Lady and Mistress of Robes.
were companions at church, at cards, at dance, and at hunt. They tended to
their mistress when she was ill or anxious and also shared in her joys and
pleasures. They did not do menial tasks—there were servants for that—but they
did remain in charge of important elements of the Queen's household, for
example, her jewelry and wardrobe.
Elizabeth I - The Rainbow Portrait
gatekeepers; during the reign of Elizabeth I small bribes were offered for
access to Her Majesty. The Queen was expected to assist her maids of honor in
becoming polished and finding a good match; they in turn were loyal, obedient,
and ornaments of the court. Married women had more freedom, better rooms, and
usually more contact with the Queen.
In her excellent
book, Ladies in Waiting, Anne Somerset quotes a lady-in-waiting to Queen
Caroline as saying, "Courts are mysterious places.... Intrigues,
jealousies, heart-burnings, lies, dissimulations thrive in (court) as mushrooms
in a hot-bed." This is exactly the kind of place where one wants to
know whom one can trust. Somerset goes on to tell us that,
At a time when
virtually every profession was an exclusively masculine preserve, the position
of lady-in-waiting to the Queen was almost the only occupation that an
upperclass Englishwoman could with propriety pursue.
control was out of their hands, the power of influence, of knowledge, of
gossip, and of relationship networks was within the firm grasp of these ladies.
Appointment was not
only by personal choice of the King or Queen, but was a political decision as
well. Queen Victoria's first stand took place when her new Prime Minister,
Robert Peel, meant to replace some of the ladies in her household to reflect
the bipartisan English government and keep an equal political balance.
According to Maureen Waller in, Sovereign Ladies, Victoria was adamant.
“I cannot give up any
of my ladies,” she told him at their second meeting.
“What ma'am!” Peel
queried, “Does Your Majesty mean to retain them all?”
“All,” she replied.
Keeping a political
balance was a concern during the Tudor years too. Ladies from all of the
important households were appointed to be among the Queen's ladies, though she
held her personal friends in closest confidence. Queen Katherine of Aragon
understandably preferred the ladies who had served her for most of her life
right up till her death. Queen Anne Boleyn numbered both Wyatt sisters among
her closest ladies as well as Nan Zouche.
Henry told his sixth
wife, Queen Kateryn Parr, that she might, "choose whichever women she
liked to pass the time with her in amusing manners or otherwise accompany her
for her leisure."
Many Queens, like
Elizabeth I, regularly surrounded themselves with family members, in her case,
often those through her mother's side, hoping that they could trust in their
loyalty and perhaps, like all of us, because they most enjoyed the company of
those they loved best.
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