Women, Friendship, and Memory

  • Charlotte Merton
Part of the Queenship and Power book series (QAP)


Princess Elizabeth’s letter to her first cousin Katherine Carey Lady Knollys dates from 1553.2 Later she would write in similarly affectionate terms to women such as Frances Howard Countess of Hertford (“Good ffrancke”) and Margery Williams Lady Norris (“Mine owne Crow”)—letters intended to set the minds of her correspondents at rest, to reaffirm her royal favor.3 This early letter, however, is an unequivocal promise of favor to come when things must have seemed very bleak indeed: the princess, the terrified focus of opposition to Queen Mary; and Knollys and her husband, like other wealthy Protestants unwilling to conform, hurrying to take their family into exile on the Continent. And once she was queen, Elizabeth’s memory of their friendship was indeed to determine Lady Knollys’ success, for she became a senior lady of the privy chamber until her death in 1569, the mother of three ladies of the privy chamber, and the woman who put the Knollys family on the political map.


Married Woman Family Friend Classical Philosopher Reciprocal Friendship Mine Owne 
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  1. 4.
    Alan Bray, The Friend (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002), 11;Google Scholar
  2. Eva Osterberg, Friendship and Love, Ethics and Politics: Studies in Medieval and Early Modern History (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2010).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 5.
    “Sed haec inter bonos amicitia, inter malos factio est” (Bellum Iugurthinum 31.15), Charles Anton, ed. Sallust (New York: Harper & Son, 1851), 22.Google Scholar
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    William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, ed. Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor (Oxford: Clavendon Press, 1986), IIIii. 204, 210.Google Scholar
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    Correspondence of Matthew Parker, ed. John Bruce and Thomas Perowne (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1853), 190.Google Scholar
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    William John Thomas (ed.), Anecdotes and Traditions (London: Camden Society, 1839), 16.Google Scholar
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    CSP Rome, I: 105, Newsletter, September 26, 1562. Amongst the better known earlier examples are Katherine Howard and Jane Parker Viscountess Rochford (The Zurich Letters, ed. Hastings Robinson (Cambridge: Parker Society, 1846), I: 226); the English merchant Richard Hilles to Henry Bullinger (Strasbourg, May 10, 1542); and Katherine Parr and Mary Odell (A Collection of State Papers, ed. Samuel Haynes (London, 1740), 62, Katherine Parr to the Lord Admiral).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Anna Whitelock and Alice Hunt 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charlotte Merton

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