'Provides a wealth of juicy anecdotal material about five centuries of court life from Henry VIII to Elizabeth II' NEW YORK TIMES
For centuries the most beautiful, able and aristocratic women in England competed for positions at court. Some were drawn by the prospect of political power. Lucy, Countess of Carlisle, for instance, succeeded in acquiring the confidence of Charles I's French wife, Henrietta Maria, only to betray the Queen to her enemies in Parliament. Some ladies-in-waiting became royal mistresses, such as the rapacious Lady Castlemaine who amassed a fortune and flaunted her hold over Charles II. Others came to court to find husbands only to discover that they were denied permission to marry by their sovereign.
Drawing on an enormous variety of sources including the diaries of such shrewd onlookers as Lady Anne Clifford, Lady Cowper and Fanny Burney, Anne Somerset provide a guide to the character, profligate or pious, of each court.