Elizabeth's Rival: The Tumultuous Life of the Countess of Leicester: The Romance and Conspiracy that Threatened Queen Elizabeth's Court

Elizabeth's Rival: The Tumultuous Life of the Countess of Leicester: The Romance and Conspiracy that Threatened Queen Elizabeth's Court

A kinswoman to Elizabeth I, Lettice Knollys had begun the Queen’s glittering reign basking in favor and success.  It was an honor that she would enjoy for two decades. However, on the morning of September 21st, 1578, Lettice made a fateful decision.  When the Queen learned of it, the consequences were swift. Lettice had dared to marry without the Queen’s consent.  But wors...

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Title:Elizabeth's Rival: The Tumultuous Life of the Countess of Leicester: The Romance and Conspiracy that Threatened Queen Elizabeth's Court
Author:Nicola Tallis
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Elizabeth's Rival: The Tumultuous Life of the Countess of Leicester: The Romance and Conspiracy that Threatened Queen Elizabeth's Court Reviews

  • Adrienne Dillard

    Full review to come.

  • Rebecca Hill

    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 h

    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.

    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.

  • Parker

    This is the first biography of Lettice Knollys, the woman who stole Robert Dudley's heart. Tallis puts her life into larger perspective of the Elizabethan era, dealing a lot with the politics. I really enjoyed the book (must admit that I'm biased, as Lettice is one of my favourite people of this era).

    She was a strong, opinionated woman (less rare than you think), thrice married, doting mother of several, including Robert Devereaux, who was Elizabeth's favourite.

    Highly recommend this book!

  • G. Lawrence

    Excellent book, well written and researched. A treat for any Tudor fan.

  • Helen Carolan

    An interesting read about Lettice Knollys, the woman who managed to steal the earl of Leicester from under queen Elizabeth 1st's nose. Considering she lived a long life through an incredible period very little has been written about her before. Here Tallis gives a wonderful account of a woman who was totally hated by the queen and spent the whole of her marriage to the queen's favourite banished from court. Elizabeth had her revenge when she took Lettice's son the earl of Essex as her favourite

    An interesting read about Lettice Knollys, the woman who managed to steal the earl of Leicester from under queen Elizabeth 1st's nose. Considering she lived a long life through an incredible period very little has been written about her before. Here Tallis gives a wonderful account of a woman who was totally hated by the queen and spent the whole of her marriage to the queen's favourite banished from court. Elizabeth had her revenge when she took Lettice's son the earl of Essex as her favourite and had him executed for treason after a failed uprising. This was a terrific read.

  • Janet Russell

    Heard of the lovely lady Essex! The lady who stole Elizabeth I paramour but never knew the details until now! She had a long and varied life Long being literal in the length of this book very long indeed! If you ever wanted to know about this famous lady this is the book for you!

  • Sue

    Nicola Tallis has written a rich and enthralling book not only about the life of Lettice Knollys but also about the complexities of the life of the English nobility where wealth, power and reputation were all.

    The author provides a large amount of information as we follow Lettice, her wider family and her children and grandchildren through the late Tudor and early Stuart period.

    I learnt a lot about the interweaving of family ties by birth and marriage and new links were revealed that surprised me

    Nicola Tallis has written a rich and enthralling book not only about the life of Lettice Knollys but also about the complexities of the life of the English nobility where wealth, power and reputation were all.

    The author provides a large amount of information as we follow Lettice, her wider family and her children and grandchildren through the late Tudor and early Stuart period.

    I learnt a lot about the interweaving of family ties by birth and marriage and new links were revealed that surprised me.

    I wonder how Lettice would have managed as a modern woman?

  • Laura

    I enjoyed learning above Lettice Knollys as she is one of my favorite characters from the Tudor/Stuart eras. The book was well researched and certainly unique in that it covered a character who serves only minimal roles in novels and history. There truly is a lot more to Lettice. However, I found the book a bit repetitive and the closings of her paragraphs a little cliché. She frequently used, phrases like: but would it be enough, it was about to get much worse, and the trouble was only beginnin

    I enjoyed learning above Lettice Knollys as she is one of my favorite characters from the Tudor/Stuart eras. The book was well researched and certainly unique in that it covered a character who serves only minimal roles in novels and history. There truly is a lot more to Lettice. However, I found the book a bit repetitive and the closings of her paragraphs a little cliché. She frequently used, phrases like: but would it be enough, it was about to get much worse, and the trouble was only beginning. I think cliff hangers certainly add excitement to a story but too many makes it cheesy. Overall I give four stars.

  • Mike Shoop

    Excellent, readable, well-researched biography of Lettice Knollys, Elizabeth I's greatest romantic rival. She was the queen's own close kinswoman and even resembled her, yet when Lettice dared to marry in secret in 1578, she incurred the wrath of the queen, especially because she wed the queen's own favorite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. Elizabeth never forgave her. The author has sifted through the sources to compile an accessible narrative of Lettice's long life, replete with challenges,

    Excellent, readable, well-researched biography of Lettice Knollys, Elizabeth I's greatest romantic rival. She was the queen's own close kinswoman and even resembled her, yet when Lettice dared to marry in secret in 1578, she incurred the wrath of the queen, especially because she wed the queen's own favorite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. Elizabeth never forgave her. The author has sifted through the sources to compile an accessible narrative of Lettice's long life, replete with challenges, despairs, intrigues, triumphs, and pleasures: she married 3 times, bore 6 children, survived 7 monarchs (including Lady Jane Grey), navigated multiple political and financial storms, and died on Christmas Day 1634 (at age 91!) having outlived all the greatest Elizabethans and the world that she knew. A remarkable character who led a colorful life during a golden age of English history, Lettice's descendants include Sir Winston Churchill, Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. Tallis has done a beautiful job with this bio--even her endnotes are terribly interesting and informational. It reads like the best historical fiction.

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