Sunday, March 07, 2010

Question from Neela - Sleeping arrangements for royalty

I was wondering if anyone would know about sleeping arrangements for royalty. For example, when Elizabeth was a young princess (around 12 or 13) where would her ladies-in-waitng sleep?


Roland H. said...

They probably slept on pull-out pallet beds in the same room. or just outside the royal bedroom within call.

SkintMum said...

Would she even have had ladies in waiting at that date?

By that point Henry VIII was dead and she was living with Thomas Seymour and and Katherine Parr as their ward.

Katherine was a dowager Queen and Elizabeth was considered illegitamate so was a 'Lady' rather than a princess. I also have the impression that they were not regularly at court.

Given the reasons above, I think it's unlikely that she had ladies in waiting, althought she did have some staff.

In Antonia Fraser's 'Mary Queen of Scots' she does say that it was very common for children to share beds with adults for warmth and comfort.

Unfortunately I guess we will never know, even though it's an intriguing question. It could shed a lot of light on the truth about claims around the relationship between Elizabeth and Thomas Seymour if we did know - but as far as I know we don't, unfortunatley.

Roland H. said...

Elizabeth did have personal attendents as a princess. We know for a fact that her sister Mary as Princess, even when she was not in favour with Henry VIII during his marriage with Anne Boleyn, had ladies about her. At one point when Henry was extremely angry with her, he had all of Mary's ladies dismissed except for one (according to the dispatches of the Imperial ambassador Eustace Chapuys).

Back to Elizabeth - other than because her rank demanded it, consider how necessary it was to have intimate servants help her (and all Tudor era high ranking women) get in and out of their elaborate clothing when necessary (for example, just to use the 'washroom').

Anyways, when Elizabeth was living with Thomas Seymour and he made sexual advances towards her, Elizabeth swore she was innocent, and she told Kat Ashley (her principal lady-in-waiting) to ask her (meaning Elizabeth's) other female attendents to verify the fact.

Nonetheless, Elizabeth's ladies were apparently not in constant attendance upon her as Seymour was able to harass her rather freely.

kb said...

I agree with Roland H.

Elizabeth did in fact have ladies attending her before she was queen, including her time in the Seymour-Parr household. The state papers support this as Roland points out.

Regarding constant attendance: I believe that even during this episode in Elizabeth's life, she was surrounded by female staff. Thomas Seymour's intrusions into her bed chamber could have happened with attendants in the room. Seymour out-ranked them and he could easily have ignored them for a short time while he 'surprised' Elizabeth in her bed.

Before Elizabeth was queen, some of her Carey relations attended her. For example in 1545, Henry Carey was a gentleman of her household. Anne Morgan, who married Henry Carey in 1545, was the grand daughter of Blanche, Lady Herbert of Troy, who had been Elizabeth's 'lady mistress' from 1537 to 1546, also served Elizabeth during this time.

It is also likely that Katherine Carey Knollys served Elizabeth during Edward's and the very early part of Mary's reign. Current theory includes the notion that Lettice Knollys, Katherine's daughter remained in Elizabeth's household when her parents went into exile during Mary's reign.

For the record, I know of NO lady of rank that did not have at least some female attendants. And by rank I mean any 'Lady', baroness, countess, or duchess. As Roland points out, the mechanics of dressing required assistance. You simply could not do that alone.

As far as sleeping, pallets and small beds in the room would have been used by ladies on duty while off-duty attendants could sleep in adjoining or nearby chambers.

As queen, Elizabeth slept with ladies about her. Dorothy Stafford was one of Elizabeth's favorite sleeping companions. According to the ODNB article on her, when Lady Stafford broke her leg riding, Mary Scudamore had to be recalled so Elizabeth could sleep peacefully. See ‘for I fear untill you come her majestie shall not in the night have for the most part so good rest as she wyll take after your comyng’ (earl of Sussex to Mary Scudamore, PRO, C115/M19/7543).