Ladies in Waiting chronicles the lives of famous and infamous ladies who served royalty, casting a fresh, intimate angle on four hundred years of monarchy. For centuries, the most beautiful, able and aristocratic women in England competed for positions at court. Some who came to serve were remarkable for their learning and exemplary virtue, but others were notable for promiscuity and lack of scruple, drawn to court by a lust for money and power.
Several ladies-in-waiting became royal mistresses, showing few qualms about betraying the queen consorts they ostensibly served. If bedding the King was not an option open to all, many ladies came to court in hope of finding husbands, only to succumb to constant assaults on their virtue or to find themselves denied permission by their sovereign to marry. Drawing on an enormous variety of sources, Anne Somerset provides an illuminating guide to the character, profligate or pious, of each court.
Contained within the stories of the individual women is a consistently entertaining commentary on the manners, morals and shifting mentality of the royal, the rich, and the prominent throughout the centuries, resulting in social history at its most enjoyable and vibrant.