Foose, a regular commenter over on the Q&A blog, has requested an open thread to discuss the new book on Blanche Parry and I am more than happy to oblige. Here is a link to a website for the book. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to read it myself one of these days, but given the size of the pile next to my bed it isn’t likely to be anytime soon…
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Well, I’m game to start off the debate, if any, and give some general impressions. I am about halfway through. The first page is extremely ominous to the practiced Tudor scholar or enthusiast (“The soft scents of a fresh spring day permeated even the darkest corners of the Court of Queen Elizabeth I …,” etc.) but fortunately this foray into novelization is dropped after the preface and we get into the hard and interesting facts, with a wealth of supporting detail, citing correspondence, wills, New Year’s gift lists and much other archival evidence.
For me the chief interest of this book is its exploration of Blanche’s Welsh background and the vast affinity she belonged to and her links to the influential Herbert family. There is much detailed genealogical information (this is a keen interest of mine, as often genealogy can identify behind-the-scenes reasons factions develop and how policy is made).
It also has excellent information on the composition of Queen Elizabeth’s household as an adult and how the various attendants fit into the wider nobility. (For me, the gold standard of this genre is Rosalind Marshall’s 2006 “Queen Mary’s Women,” which studied the careers, antecedents and affinities of a wide range of women who attended Mary Queen of Scots, in France, Scotland and English captivity.)
The figure of Lady Herbert of Troy (called Lady Troy) gets a considerable share of the spotlight. As Blanche’s aunt, an influential court figure, and in charge at various times of all three of the royal children’s households (and ultimately Lord Hunsdon’s grandmother-in-law), she merits this degree of attention.
Also of interest, Kat Ashley is depicted as being more of a sharp infighter than she is traditionally presented, owing to evidence that she was able to force Lady Troy’s retirement as “she could abide nobody there but herself” to [lie in Elizabeth’s bedchamber].
Thank you for including a comment on this biography. My sole aim is to make sure that anyone interested in the Tudor period, and especially in Edward VI and Elizabeth I, is aware that this new information about Blanche, Lady Troy and Blanche Parry is available.