From the private world of a beloved queen, a story of intimacy, 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 queen’s court lay her bedchamber, closely guarded by the favored women who helped her dress, looked after her jewels, and shared her bed.
Elizabeth’s 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 queen’s body: it represented the very state itself.
In The Queen’s 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 queen’s 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 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 Queen’s Bed is a revelatory, insightful look into their daily lives—the untold story of the queen laid bare.