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Mistress Blanche, Queen Elizabeth I's Confidante    by Ruth Elizabeth Richardson order for
Mistress Blanche, Queen Elizabeth I's Confidante
by Ruth Elizabeth Richardson
Order:  USA  Can
Logaston, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

While in Wales several months ago, I had the great good fortune to meet Ruth Elizabeth Richardson, author of Mistress Blanche, Queen Elizabeth I's Confidante. This lovely lady has done a vast amount of research to tell the story of a woman she greatly admires and who played an important role in England's history as Chief Gentlewoman of Queen Elizabeth I's Privy Council and Keeper of Her Majesty's Jewels.

Until now, little was known about this woman. Born in Herefordshire's Golden Valley, she was closely connected to the House of York. She spent the better part of her life with the Queen from the time Elizabeth was a baby. Richardson notes that her research shows that Blanche was discreet, meticulous, trustworthy, elegant, respected, and well-liked. She must have been quite a woman.

It's obvious that Richardson thinks so. She has done intensive research on her countrywoman and found many references to Blanche. She examined original documents, 'some of which had never been transcribed before.' A corpus of nine bardic poems which concern Blanche's family had never before been transcribed into modern Welsh let alone into English.

This intriguing history goes into Blanche's family background as well as her upbringing and education, and reveals how she came to be chosen to be confidante to a Queen. Did Blanche's views color Elizabeth's? What made her such a trusted companion? Blanche was involved in the political life of the time - at the same time she was responsible for looking after the Queen's jewels, she helped to channel Parliamentary bills through the system.

Synopsizing the wealth of information in this extremely interesting book would not give the volume its due. Anyone interested in English history will find a wealth of new information to bring credence to an outstanding and yet humble woman, presented not in an aggrandizing manner but as true facts.

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