Ladies-in-Waiting: Women Who Served at the Tudor Court – Book Review

Ladies-in-Waiting: Women Who Served at the Tudor Court is a book written by Victoria Sylvia Evans. This was an odd buy for me, as I had decided that I wouldn’t buy anything until after my birthday (21st August), but something about it drew me too it. Perhaps the beautiful cover or just the fact that I hadn’t read anything just on ladies in waiting? The ladies in waiting get a mention in biographies of Henry VIII’s queens but only briefly, so found this interesting.

I really did like the layout of this book. Part one was just on the layout of the royal household, how the female attendants were chosen, daily routine etc. This was surprising as I just expected it to be about the women who served the queens (what their names and roles were etc). It was a good addition though as it is good for research and helps set the scene.

The next part is on the women who served the queens of Henry VIII. I did not know much about Katherine of Aragon’s ladies, especially the Spanish ones that came with her when she married Arthur. Anne Boleyn and Katherine of Aragon have a few different sections for their ladies. For example, there is a section on Katherine’s Spanish household from 1501-09, then her household as Queen from 1509-31 and finally after she was discarded by Henry VIII from 1531-36. The other queens do not have more than one section, but that is the case with most biographies as they either weren’t queen for very long or they not much happened.

This book is almost like a smaller biography on the queens, compared to other biographies at least. It does explain their lives and also what happened to the ladies in waiting. One thing I did wish for was for there to be a list of the known ladies in waiting for each queen and of f how long they served them. However, we can’t have everything.

Overall, I did enjoy the book. There were a few typos (such as in the chapter list, on chapter 2 ‘Selecting the Female Attendants’ is repeated for some reason) but they don’t distract from the book. Actually, as I’m typing this, it is the first time I noticed it. Also, not sure why but feel like the spine writing is the wrong way round. It makes it stand out against my other history books. But we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and I think this is a good book for anyone to read. It is easy to read and I could probably sit down and read it all the way through, if I wasn’t writing notes on it of course. If you like history and the queens of Henry VIII, then I recommend this book. Or even if you just have an interest in it and haven’t some of the heavy non-fiction books, this is a good starting point.

Rating: 4/5


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