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Alison Weir

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„Agnus Dei;“ The Life of Elizabeth I

„I prefer to be left alone with my books.“ Innocent Traitor


„If only they would all just leave me alone with my books and my letters, I would be content to let life, and the world pass me by“ Innocent Traitor

„You must pray to God for forgiveness because I can give you none“ Innocent Traitor

„In this martial world dominated by men, women had little place. The Church's teachings might underpin feudal morality, yet when it came to the practicalities of life, a ruthless pragmatism often came into play. Kings and noblemen married for political advantage, and women rarely had any say in how they or their wealth were to be disposed in marriage. Kings would sell off heiresses and rich widows to the highest bidder, for political or territorial advantage, and those who resisted were heavily fined.

Young girls of good birth were strictly reared, often in convents, and married off at fourteen or even earlier to suit their parents' or overlord's purposes. The betrothal of infants was not uncommon, despite the church's disapproval. It was a father's duty to bestow his daughters in marriage; if he was dead, his overlord or the King himself would act for him. Personal choice was rarely and issue.

Upon marriage, a girl's property and rights became invested in her husband, to whom she owed absolute obedience. Every husband had the right to enforce this duty in whichever way he thought fit--as Eleanor was to find out to her cost. Wife-beating was common, although the Church did at this time attempt to restrict the length of the rod that a husband might use.“
Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life

„I cannot go with you all the way on your journey, but I would go as far as I might“ Innocent Traitor

„I steel myself to ignore his taunts and his coarse language. I no longer care what he says or does. It doesn't matter anymore. I am detached, contained in my own private world where he cannot reach me. It is my last refuge.“ Innocent Traitor

„She had already decided that, when she grew up, she was going to do whatever she pleased and not let anyone order her about.“ The Lady Elizabeth


„Court life for a queen of France at that time was, however, stultifyingly routine. Eleanor found that she was expected to be no more than a decorative asset to her husband, the mother of his heirs and the arbiter of good taste and modesty.“ Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life

„The Burgundian chronicler Philippe de Commines thought the English a choleric, earthy, and volatile people, who nevertheless made good, brave soldiers. In fact he regarded their warlike inclinations as one of the chief causes of the Wars of the Roses. If they could not fight the French, he believed, they fought each other.“ The Wars of the Roses

„When these with violence were burned to death,
We wished for our Elizabeth.“
The Children of Henry VIII

„At six o'clok the young King's terrible sufferings finally ended. After his eyes had closed for the last time, the tempeste raged on. Later, superstitious folk claimed that Henry himself had sent it, and had risen from his grave in anger at the subversion of his will.“ The Children of Henry VIII


„There can have been no doubt in Eleanor's mind as to what was expected of her as a wife. In her day, women were supposed to be chaste both inside and outside marriage, virginity and celibacy being highly prized states. When it came to fornication, women were usually apportioned the blame, because they were the descendants of Eve, who had tempted Adam in the Garden of Eden, with such dire consequences. Women, the Church taught, were the weaker vessel, the gateway to the Devil, and therefore the source of all lechery. St. Bernard of Clairvaux wrote: "To live with a woman without danger is more difficult than raising the dead to life." Noblewomen, he felt, were the most dangerous so fall. Women were therefore kept firmly in their place in order to prevent them from luring men away from the paths of righteousness.

Promiscuity--and its often inevitable consequence, illicit pregnancy--brought great shame upon a woman and her family, and was punishable by fines, social ostracism, and even, in the case of aristocratic and royal women, execution. Unmarried women who indulged in fornication devalued themselves on the marriage market. In England, women who were sexually experienced were not permitted to accuse men of rape in the King's court. Female adultery was seen as a particularly serious offence, since it jeopardized the laws of inheritance.

Men, however, often indulged in casual sex and adultery with impunity. Because the virtue of high-born women was jealously guarded, many men sought sexual adventures with lower-class women. Prostitution was common and official brothels were licensed and subject to inspection in many areas. There was no effective contraception apart from withdrawal, and the Church frowned upon that anyway: this was why so many aristocratic and royal bastards were born during this period.“
Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life

„His handsome face is suffused with rage. He stands before me shaking, then to my disgust, bursts into noisy tears; "I shall tell my mother of you!" he sobs and crashes out of the chamber“ Innocent Traitor

„It did not do to give your heart to a man so entirely, she thought. Men did not value what they came by easily. Once you loved, you laid yourself open to pain.“ The Lady Elizabeth

„But I wish you to know that, were I just Edward and you just Jane, I would prefer to marry you. We accord well together, and have similar views… Kings cannot make their own choices. I wished you to know that“ Innocent Traitor