Elizabeth I was the glittering jewel in her court, and she was unwilling to share any of the limelight with anyone. As her reign progressed, she made her feelings on marriage well known, and many in her court were afraid to ask her permission to get married. Some married in secret, and for those unfortunate souls, the effects were long reaching and dire.
Robert Dudley was the favorite of the queen. They doted on each other, and there was fear among the queens Councillors that he would persuade her to marry him. After the death of his first wife, his name was tarnished enough that she could never give him much credence in his suit, but he continued to pursue her for years. Finally realizing that his dreams would never be realized, he set about to find a wife that could provide him with heirs for his landed estates and title.
Lettice Knolly’s was a close relation of the queen, whether it was remarked on or not, and her role in the court was tenuous. Given her mothers relationship with the queen, she was given a court position, but marriage and motherhood kept her from the court much of the time. Upon the death of her husband, and the massive debts that he had incurred, she began to make plans for her future. Whether she and Dudley had been more than friends for many years is a point of conjecture that we will never fully have an answer to, but she waited the required amount of time for mourning before considering marriage again. Her marriage would be the cause of contention for decades to come. Lettice might be well loved by the queen, but she threw it all away for the love of one man – and the one man that no one else in the kingdom had dared to make any designs on. He was the queens favorite, her darling, her right hand. That Lettice and Robert dared marry in secret, and then continue to hide it from the queen make it all the worse for the pair when it was finally outed to the monarch.
Dudley was forgiven, but Lettice was never again fully welcomed at court. She was banished from the sight of the queen, but the long drawn out spite was not to be forgotten. There could be only one and the queen was not about to share with anyone. But which one will outlast the other….
Lettice is quite a enigmatic figure. That more has not been written about her prior to this is a shame. She was a woman to be reckoned with, and one that did not back down no matter who was on the other side. While her family would find their tempers caused them lucrative positions at court, they always managed to come back up around. Fortunes wheel doth turn and turn. This is one book that I would read again – as there is so much information presented, that it is hard to take it all in at once, but it would be a good one.
Rating: 5/5 stars
Release Date: 6 March 2018
Elizabeth’s Rival: The Tumultuous Life of the Countess of Leicester: The Romance and Conspiracy that Threatened Queen Elizabeth’s Court – Nicola Tallis