I took a flight of fancy during my recovery from my operation last month - read two very pleasant court romances by Susan Holloway Scott - "The French Mistress" about Charles II's last main squeeze, Louise de Keroualle, and "Duchess", regarding Queen Anne's right arm, Sarah Churchill (pictured). They were very easy to read and quite entertaining - and led me to wonder about the evolution of court life in England over the early modern period. Both stories were told in the first person, with just enough color and not too much sartorial detail.
I know little about the period - the weakening of the monarchy due to its unresponsiveness to social movements (could that be?), the rise of Parliament, the prominent placement on the world stage. The nobility did weird stuff with the styling of their hair. The presence of lap dogs...\
Perhaps similar to the courtesans of Ancient Greece, the mistresses of Restoration England, at least as Louise is portrayed here, have unexpected political influence. Indeed, Louise is employed as a spy for the court of France. Sarah Churchill, of course, exacted great pull with Queen Anne, though she never acted as a courtesan, marrying as a young lady in waiting.
We have here come a long way from Margaret of Anjou's court, dingy as they say, with Elizabeth Woodville appearing far too fetchingly beautiful a lady for comfort, and also the ladies-in-waiting stitching altar cloths in the Tudor court. Seems like Restoration ladies played a ridiculous amount of cards rather than employing their hands at needlework. Their gaming debts remind me of modern credit card debt holes. Somehow the money wasn't real.
What was real was the commerce of the nation and its military might. The display of the court remains the same - the concept of show equalling majesty that it did in Tudor England.
I realized this post is but ramblings, but historical fiction at its best for me elicits same. I am sure I will read more of Ms. Scott's work.