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The Female Bedchamber of Queen Henrietta Maria: Politics, Familial Networks and Policy, 1626–40

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Chapter Summary

This chapter re-examines the activities of the principal female protagonists of the Bedchamber connected to Henrietta Maria's foreign policy agenda in the late 1620s and 1630s, the Countess of Carlisle and Madame Vantelet. It builds upon Sharon Kettering's definition of French noblewomen's power as "indirect", as well as recent work that stresses aristocratic women's roles as key figures in diplomacy, policy-making in the centre and in the localities, and patronage networks. A largely chronological approach are adopted to explore, first, the involvement of these Bedchamber officers in directing Henrietta Maria's foreign policy, and, second, the extent to which the queen's diplomatic relations influenced elite domestic concerns over royal patronage. Underpinning both is an awareness that the dynastic aims of Henrietta Maria's Bedchamber officers uncovers a more complex story of the politics of the queen's circle than has hitherto been considered in Stuart historiography.

Keywords: Countess of Carlisle; factional politics; familial networks; female Bedchamber; female political influence; Henrietta Maria's foreign policy; Madame Vantelet



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