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The Courtiers: Splendor and Intrigue in the…
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The Courtiers: Splendor and Intrigue in the Georgian Court at Kensington… (2010)

by Lucy Worsley

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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Loving all things 18th century, I was thinking some footnoted gossip about the fancy people would be fun. Turns out 18th century dish is just as boring as the 21st century version. Also, the Kindle edition was badly scanned - the black and white drawings looked like photocopies of photocopies of photocopies.
  badube | Mar 6, 2019 |
I've always enjoyed history programmes and documentaries. In particular UK ones. David Starkey ignited my interest in Medieval England, and I think I've watched Alan Ereira's documentary series "Kings and Queens of England" about 6 times.

But there is one historian, whose focus is slightly closer to modern times, that has really caught my attention - and that is Dr. Lucy Worsley.
The Joint Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces has presented a string of extremely entertaining (and well-researched) documentaries on life in Britain in the 18th and 19th century - as well as on the private lives of those glorified figures you see on the walls of the National Portrait Gallery. So when I spotted this book at my regular Dutch auction booksale haunt, into my basket it went.

And what a riveting piece of social and cultural history it turned out to be, exposing the often seedy underbelly of the glamour show that was Georgian England and its court. Dr. Worsley does an excellent job of portraying the characters featured on William Kent's Great Staircase at Kensington Palace in a way that makes them come to life in your mind.

Characters like "Peter the Wild Boy", the real-life Wildling found in a Hanoverian forest and brought to the court - first at Herrenhausen, later at London - as an exotic pet. He never learnt to speak "properly" and had a penchant for eating acorns, but his "unspoiled" state made him a prime fashion accessory for the Hanoverians.

She does not pull punches - thanks to her access to contemporary medical accounts, you get all the explicit details of ailments and demises - but also the facts behind the folklore in certain cases. The list of references and the endnote section is frankly mind-boggling, and it has been hard to put down once I began reading it. ( )
  jakadk | May 13, 2018 |
Inspired by a painting on the King's Staircase in Kensington Palace, Lucy Worsley writes about the people who lived at court in the early Georgian era (1714 - 1760), the royal family, their servants, lovers, and friends, with the focus on the personalities rather than the politics.

Of course anyone we know anything about, even those low down on the social scale, was comparatively privileged. But nevertheless, it is a fascinating glimpse into other people's lives and there was just as much interpersonal drama as in the more popular Tudor and Regency periods. Very interesting reflections on the change in views of female sexuality just after the end of this time period. The sufferings of poor Queen Caroline at the end of her life were horrendous. I did feel quite melancholy when the book wrapped up with the death of the old king and a quick round up for those who survived him -- not many. ( )
  Robertgreaves | May 1, 2018 |
This is a stunningly good book, I never thought I would become so involved in the lives of the court of the first two Georges. Written with humour, compassion, pathos and a deft idea for a good story, Worsley tells the stories of various courtiers during the reigns of George I & II, their successes and travails, their ups and downs, the price they paid to be at court, and how the court usually spat them out in varying degrees of good will or shame. Some thrived, some just survived, some went to the wall. Perhaps most compelling and tragic is the story of Peter the Wild Boy, who was found in the forests of Hanover unable to speak or behave in human society and brought to London as a curiosity. Living to a ripe he old age, he lived out his life happily after the court tired of him in a peaceful rural community. As well as the court, Worsley details the sad lives of the royals themselves, in particular the hatred between father and son that seemed endemic in the family. She effectively humanises the kings and queens, without ignoring their frequent nastiness. A great, very readable book, I loved it. ( )
1 vote drmaf | May 29, 2017 |
A good look at George II and his family on a very personal level. The early Georgian monarchs (George I and George II) lack the historical celebrity of their predecessors, but this book offers a compelling picture of life in the Georgian court for the lowly courtiers as well as for those vying for power. A fascinating set of characters and a very interesting read, especially when one understands context of the preceding and succeeding eras. A good introduction to 18th-century British royalty. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Sep 24, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
For many, Kensington Palace will be forever regarded as the fashionable, and perhaps rather soulless, last home of Diana, Princess of Wales...

But long before the glamorous royal took up residence in one of its elegant apartments, the palace was home to another less chic but equally controversial Princess of Wales.

To read the full review - click on the link below
added by CindyBytes | editlep.co.uk, Pam Norfolk
 
Anyone who climbs the King’s Grand Staircase at Kensington Palace finds themselves watched by 45 gossiping servants. Porters and pages, musicians, milliners, mistresses and maids of honour crowd together in the candlelight of the upper gallery, craning their necks over the balustrade, dangling their babies and cuddling their lapdogs.

To read the full review - click on the link below
 
Courtiers – those men and women of non-servant rank who attend or divert monarchs – are a maligned lot. In 1770, William Hooper wrote that “the glory of a British monarch consists not in a handful of tinsel courtiers” but in the “freedom, the dignity and the happiness of his people”. Not many have sought to overturn that sentiment since then.

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Epigraph
'Those who have a curiosity to see courts and courtiers dissected must bear with the dirt they find.'
John Hervey
Preface
'I will send you a general map of Courts; a region yet unexplored...all the paths are slippery, and every slip is dangerous.'
(Lord Chesterfield, 1749)
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The Great Drawing Room, crammed full of courtiers, lay at the heart of the Georgian royal palace.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802719872, Hardcover)

Kensington Palace is now most famous as the former home of Diana, Princess of Wales, but the palace's glory days came between 1714 and 1760, during the reigns of George I and II . In the eighteenth century, this palace was a world of skulduggery, intrigue, politicking, etiquette, wigs, and beauty spots, where fans whistled open like switchblades and unusual people were kept as curiosities. Lucy Worsley's The Courtiers charts the trajectory of the fantastically quarrelsome Hanovers and the last great gasp of British court life. Structured around the paintings of courtiers and servants that line the walls of the King's Staircase of Kensington Palace—paintings you can see at the palace today—The Courtiers goes behind closed doors to meet a pushy young painter, a maid of honor with a secret marriage, a vice chamberlain with many vices, a bedchamber woman with a violent husband, two aging royal mistresses, and many more. The result is an indelible portrait of court life leading up to the famous reign of George III , and a feast for both Anglophiles and lovers of history and royalty.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:50 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

An 18th-century portrait of the palace most recognized as an official home of several British royal family members focuses on the Hanover family during the reigns of George I and II, describing the intrigue, ostentatious fashions and politicking that marked court life.

» see all 4 descriptions

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