Court Lady and Country Wife: Two Noble Sisters in Seventeenth-Century England

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9780060762896: Court Lady and Country Wife: Two Noble Sisters in Seventeenth-Century England

Born during the reign of Elizabeth I, Lucy and Dorothy Percy came to prominence at the court of Charles I. Lucy, the Countess of Carlisle, dominated the royal scene. Her beauty was immortalized in magnificent Van Dyck portraits, her political skills attracted many famous lovers, and her talent as a gossip ensured her inclusion in the queen's inner circle—until civil war and its machinations led to her imprisonment in the Tower of London.

Her sister, Dorothy, Countess of Leicester—wife of a diplomat and an ancestor of Princess Diana—managed the family estates and raised twelve surviving children. Though brilliant, with a keen eye and special purview of European politics, she had a reputation as a shrewish wife and, when her husband rebelled after thirty-five years of marriage, it caused a public scandal.

Viewing a tempestuous era through the exceptional lives of Lucy and Dorothy Percy, Lita-Rose Betcherman's Court Lady and Country Wife offers a perfect window into a remarkable world.

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About the Author:

Lita-Rose Betcherman received a doctorate in Tudor and Stuart history from the University of Toronto and was the Women's Bureau director for the province of Ontario. She is the author of three books on Canadian history and lives in Toronto.

From Publishers Weekly:

The lives of Dorothy and Lucy Percy, daughters of the early 17th-century earl of Northumberland, reflect striking contrasts in early modern marriage. Lucy married a much older rising star of the Jacobean court, later Lord Carlisle, and had only one short-lived child; centering her life on the royal court, she became mistress of the duke of Buckingham and a confidante of Queen Henrietta Maria. Dorothy married the later earl of Leicester, raising 12 children in the relative obscurity of the countryside, where she managed estates and campaigned for her husband's career. Both sisters were involved in the politics of the Civil War, when each precariously balanced family, finances and loyalties in order to survive. Canadian historian Betcherman dwells particularly on Lucy's charms, as sources praising her are abundant. The author is less generous to Dorothy, trusting too much in the sometimes bitter assessments of her husband and offering no hint of whether his taking loans with interest from his wife was unusual. Still, personalities, fashion, intrigue and even parliamentary and military history blend to provide a multifaceted entry into a period not always accessible to general readers of history. 8 pages of color illus. not seen by PW.
Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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