• Sex sells. The publishers must have thought this when offered Elizabeth’s Bedfellows: an Intimate History of the Queen’s Court. Whitelock’s book proposes to look at Elizabeth I’s reign through the bedchamber, her ornate rooms in her palaces, guarded by 30 women.
    • The many men who wanted to get close to Elizabeth had to penetrate this circle to reach her. Whitelock’s book should be full of sexual intrigue, thwarted desire, and jealousies. But the historian never quite throws off her academic inhibitions.
    • Dudley and Elizabeth stalked around each other for decades, jealous of each other’s romantic links, but parted only upon his death, over which she was inconsolable. This affair, even if never consummated, should provide dramatic tension for much of the book. But the pulse never races in the detail-laden prose.
    • The question of who would marry Elizabeth was a serious one. England was still riven by her father Henry VIII’s divorce from the Catholic Church, and with counterclaims for the throne from all corners, what was required from Elizabeth was a clear line of succession.
    • One cannot fault Whitelock for her meticulous research, but there is little mention of the Elizabethan culture of love, played in the miniatures of her lovers, in the sonneteers, and the depictions of the queen in Shakespeare – think Titania in A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Elizabeth’s romantic adventures extended far beyond the bedchamber, into the popular pysche, and the inclusion of that could have lent some passion to an otherwise fairly dry history.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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