Have you ever visited Jeane's site? Oh, you've got to go! If you look up her bio, you'll see pictures of her Tudor cottage and learn about the way Jeane and her husband worked on it. And- besides her books, there's even a book club section and a Fun Facts about Elizabeth.
Today, Jeane has written a lovely piece on Elizabeth for Enchanted by Josephine.
Please welcome Jeane Westin...
Why I write about Elizabeth I.
Elizabeth Tudor, who reigned as queen of England without a consort from 1558 until 1603 is to me the most fascinating woman in western history.
The fact that she ruled alone makes her unique. Women were not supposed to have the mental powers to rule. People believed in a God ordained Great Chain of Being and women were near the bottom just above children.
Her council, Parliament and people demanded that she marry to have the guidance of a man and to produce heirs for the throne. She side-stepped them and carried on long protracted marriage negotiations with most of the eligible princes of Europe. In that way, she escaped marriage, which meant she had to share her throne with no one and escaped childbirth, which was very risky in those days of primitive medicine. And why wouldn't she? Her father Henry VIII had shown her how dangerous marriage was for a queen.
Here's an anecdote to show her shrewdness: her Parliament voted to demand her marriage and sent her a formal document. She replied that she appreciated their concern for her and the realm, but she would marry when she wanted to and added the inarguable statement that God would take care of the succession. In her words to Parliament, "herewith my answer, answerless."
She managed to have it both ways into her middle years. Courtships and gifts, long negotiations which kept European countries from attacking England, and in the end she gave them nothing. It is reported that after the Duc d'Alencon, her final suitor, left the palace for the last time, she wrote a lovely poem to him, wept tears on the pier waving her handkerchief until he was out of sight and then returned to her bedchamber and danced for joy. I think she was the mistress of holding out hope while never coming through...perhaps history's greatest royal tease.
She was brilliant, of course, probably a genius; she spoke many languages and whiled away winter evenings translating ancient Greek and Latin authors into English and back again.
She was athletic...riding, hunting, walking, dancing until all hours, but also sickly. The list of her illnesses is very long and from the evidence, I believe she was anorexic and perhaps, prone to nervous breakdowns. That she ruled so long and so well is a tribute to her stamina and courage.
Elizabeth hated war and sometimes delayed her decisions until the problem disappeared, strengthening her belief in indecision...maddening to her councilors, but wise in the end.
She wasn't beautiful, but she was extremely handsome, striking and commanding, taller than most women of her time with white skin, red Tudor hair and a slightly hooked Plantagenet nose. She spent money sparingly. When young, she dressed plainly, but when a queen she used clothes to display her regal self. She had more than 2,000 gowns at her death, but she was frugal even with them. She reused jewels, oversleeves, embroidered pieces that she liked, gave gowns to her ladies and had them recut and styled with the changing fashion...a kind of early recycled mix and match.
Several men truly loved her. Thomas Heneage, Christopher Hatton and other minor courtiers, but Robert Dudley, her Sweet Robin, was her greatest love. When she died, a letter from him was found in her treasures box by her bedside labeled in her handwriting His Last Letter, which gave me the idea for the book I'm writing now.
These are just some of the reasons I write about Elizabeth, but the greatest one is to search for the unanswered question: At heart who was she?
In my first book, The Virgin's Daughters: In the Court of Elizabeth I, from NAL, August, 2009, I write about her from the viewpoint of two ladies in waiting at the bookends of her life. In His Last Letter: Elizabeth I and the Earl of Leicester, to be published in August, 2010, I write from her viewpoint and from Robert Dudley's, trying to get inside the reasons she never married him, but continued to love him until the end. And also why her Sweet Robin stayed beside her even after he lost all hope of marrying her. I believe theirs was one of the great love stories of history...and still a mystery.
Thanks, Lucy, for allowing me to comment on your blog. It's always a pleasure to write about Elizabeth.
Thank you Jeane!
Now... we have a FANTASTIC GIVEAWAY:
Penguin Books has graciously agreed to give away a copy of TheVirgin's Daughters to - 2 LUCKY WINNERS here at Enchanted by Josephine!!! Open to Canada and US only.
1 Chance: Leave a comment an tell me why you love Elizabeth
Get an EXTRA chance: For tweeting, posting,or placing this giveaway on your sidebar
ANOTHER chance: Become a follower of this blog (if you're already a follower,you get this automatically)
Contest ends October 11th