Elizabeth's Women
Elizabeth's Women Friends, Rivals, and Foes Who Shaped the Virgin Queen By Borman, Tracy Book - 2010

Borman adds a new dimension to bios of Elizabeth by focusing on her relationships with women, though she doesn't leave out the men altogether. Elizabeth was taken away from her loving mother, and set up with her own household of, mostly, women. One of these was Kat, who adored the baby, and stayed with her until her own death. Unfortunately, Kat's judgement wasn't as strong as her love and loyalty. Better judgement could have better served Elizabeth, who returned her love. As Elizabeth came to understand what had happened to her mother (she was three when Anne was beheaded), and later Katherine Howard, and her conflicts with her half sister Mary, she decided she must never marry, or lose her virginity. If she married, she'd give up her authority and power to her husband. But she was a passionate, feminine woman, so was conflicted. She chose to pretend she wanted to marry, to keep her Council happy. She fell deeply in love with a man whose loyalty didn't match her own. Her brilliance led her to serve well, and she became popular. As her reign progressed and those who'd served her since childhood began to die, her woman were, by necessity, younger, no longer willing to sacrifice their youth for her. She didn't understand that the rules she set for her women were causing part of her own suffering. While Borman details what happens, she doesn't probe deeply enough, in my opinion, how Elizabeth undermined herself. The women weren't allowed to marry or get pregnant. If they did, Elizabeth's wrath was severe. This wrath often led couples to act in secret. Because the court was small, and gossipy, Elizabeth almost always found out (at least when pregnancy resulted). If she'd allowed for marriage and parenthood for others, even though she'd decided against it for herself, she might well have been happier. Her court would certainly have run more smoothly. This view of Elizabeth through her relationships with her women is still highly important, showing how they were important not just socially, but as part of how the court functioned politically. Elizabeth grew into functioning as both a woman and a "king," and became well loved, both in England and internationally. Well researched and written.

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