Aristocratic women and the Jacobean Court, 1603-1625.
Aristocratic women were integral to Jacobean court life and actively involved
in royal service, in the ceremonial of court and state, in the pursuit of financial benefit,
in marriage strategies and court family networks, and in court, foreign and religious
politics and patronage. The time scale of the thesis encompasses James VI's reign as
James I of England, 1603-1625, as court life for aristocratic women did not end with
the death of his queen consort, Anne of Denmark. As ladies-in-waiting and/or the kin
or clients of powerful men at court, aristocratic (and other elite women) could exercise
a degree of power, authority and influence and participate both formally (through their
Privy Chamber posts) and informally in the life and functions of the Jacobean court.
This study moves beyond, reappraises, and revises recent published work on the
Jacobean court by literary scholars, which focuses on the court masque, literary
pursuits and cultural patronage of a small number of aristocratic court women, and
extends recent published work by historians who have included women in their studies
of the Jacobean court. Together with the insights gained through extensive new
archival research, this study provides a broader and deeper understanding than hitherto
available, of the significant roles these women could play at court and the place of the
court in their lives. Moreover, this view of the Jacobean court from a female
perspective reveals much about that institution, about the nature of politics and
patronage beneath the level of high politics and the careers of great ministers and royal
favourites, and about early seventeenth century British aristocratic society and its
relationship with the monarchy.