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Bess Of Hardwick: First Lady of Chatsworth

Mary S. Lovell

4 Reviews

Rated 0

Prose: non-fiction, History

A biography of one of the most remarkable women of the Tudor era - next to Queen Elizabeth the most powerful woman in England.

Bess of Hardwick was one of the most remarkable women of the Tudor era. Gently-born in reduced circumstances, she was married at 15 and when she was widowed at 16, she was still a virgin. At 19 she married a man more than twice her age, Sir William Cavendish, a senior auditor in King Henry VIII's Court of Augmentations. Responsible for seizing church properties for the crown during the Dissolution, Cavendish enriched himself in the process. During the reign of King Edward VI, Cavendish was the Treasurer to the boy king and sisters, and he and Bess moved in the highest levels of society. They had a London home and built Chatsworth House in Derbyshire. After Cavendish's death her third husband was poisoned by his brother. Bess' fourth marriage to the patrician George, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, Earl Marshall of England, made Bess one of the most important women at court. Her shrewd business acumen was a byword, and she was said to have 'a masculine understanding', in that age when women had little education and few legal rights. The Earl's death made her arguably the wealthiest, and therefore - next to the Queen - the most powerful woman in the country.

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Praise for Bess Of Hardwick: First Lady of Chatsworth

  • Lovell rehabilitates Bess's reputation, showing that she was shrewd rather than shrewish, kind rather than cold - THE TIMES

  • This wonderfully researched book is an intimate portrait of [Bess's] life and a vivid insight into life in Tudor society - SUNDAY EXPRESS

  • Lovell has excelled at bringing the Tudor Age to exuberant life... altogether this is a rattling good read - Hugh Massingberd, MAIL ON SUNDAY

  • The best account yet available of this shrewd, enigmatic and remarkable woman - SUNDAY TIMES

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