fhistorybamfs

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Female BAMFs of History
- Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire

Georgiana was born Georgiana Spencer in 1757 on the 7th June to father the 1st Earl Spencer (John Spencer) and mother Margaret Georgiana Poyntz. She was the first wife of the 5th Duke of Devonshire, and also the mother to the 6th Duke of Devonshire. She is the great-great-granddaughter of the 1st Duke of Marlborough, the aunt of Lady Caroline Lamb, and, via her illegitimate daughter Eliza, an ancestor of Sarah the Duchess of York. Also among her relations, she is related to Lady Diana Spencer - the later Princess of Wales, who was her great-great-grandniece. (It is also speculated that she is related to Lucrezia Borgia, but this has not been proven.)

Georgiana - often called Gee  - was a beauty socialite who married her husband, the Duke of Devonshire, on her seventeenth birthday. She had three children by him; Georgiana Dorothy Cavendish (the later Countess of Carlisle), Harriet Elisabeth Cavendish (the later Countess of Granville), and William Cavendish (the Marquess of Hartington and Duke of Devonshire after his father). Gee also had an illegitimate child with the 2nd Earl Grey, Eliza Courtney, and also brought up her husband’s illegitimate child with a maid; Charlotte.

Gee is known not only for her immense fashion sense, but also for living in a menage a trois (commonly known as a “household of three”, it basically means a three-way marriage arrangement) with her husband and a woman who she had introduced to him as her best friend, the Lady Elizabeth Foster. Elizabeth, having three children already, also had two children with the Duke; Caroline Rosalie Adelaide and Sir Augustus Clifford.

Her fashion sense was elaborate and very unique, and she was the leader of the ‘ton’, a group of fashionable aristocratic ladies who pioneered the towering hairstyles that Gee is so famous for. Her hair was usually topped by large ostrich feathers, massively oversized hats, or artificial aviary. Gee was also known for being very political, and in the 1784 election, she traded kisses in favour for the support of Fox.

Though she was seen as very ladylike, she was also enamoured with gambling. Her family, the Spencers, were very wealthy, but refused to support her gambling habits. Gee was so terrified of her husband discovering her gambling debts that she kept them secret - only for him to discover when she died in 1806, aged 48, from what is thought to be an abscess of the liver. After being buried at All Saints Parish Church (Derby Cathedral), she owed today’s equivalent of £3,720,000. When the Duke of Devonshire was told about these debts, he commented “is that all?”

4

Female BAMFs of History
- Anne Boleyn, Marquess of Pembroke/Queen Consort of England

Anne Boleyn was born in 1501 to parents Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, and Lady Elizabeth Howard. She had two siblings, Mary Boleyn and George Boleyn - the later Viscount of Rochford. She was the second wife of one of the most famous English monarchs to this day; Henry VIII Tudor. Because of this marriage (and her beheading), she was a key figure in the English Reformation. Anne was educated in the Netherlands and France, a large proportion of her time being maid of honour to Claude of France. Upon her return to England in 1522, she was due to marry her Irish cousin, James Butler, 9th Earl of Ormond. These plans fell through when she was secured a place at court as maid of honour for Henry’s first wife, Queen Consort Catherine of Aragon.

Although Anne became Henry’s wife, her sister Mary was the first to have an affair with him. After marrying William Carey in February 1520 - in which the King attended, he soon became the King’s mistress. Mary bore him one confirmed child; William Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon, though some reports say that she bore him more than one. Anne Boleyn made her debut with Henry by playing Perseverance in a play in honour of the Imperial Ambassadors. It was during this time that Anne was courted by Henry Percy, the son of the Earl of Northumberland, and they entered a secret betrothal. Unfortunately for Percy, the romance was broken off when his father refused to support their engagement, and Anne was sent back to her family’s estates for a short period of time before returning to the service of Catherine of Aragon.

It was then in 1526 that King Henry became utterly enamoured with Anne and began to pursue her. Documents say that Anne resisted his temptations to seduce her, refusing to become his mistress, and she often left court to head back to her childhood home at Hever Castle. But, within a year, he had proposed to her and she had accepted. Lots of sources say that she refused to even accept his proposal until he had annulled the marriage to his first wife, Catherine, and that she used the chance of bearing him a son to coerce him into it. Henry’s quest for the annulment came to be known as the “King’s Great Matter.”

It became known that Anne was pregnant with her first child with Henry before they had married, which, some reporters say, is why they married in haste. If they risked having a child before Anne was married to Henry and crowned queen, if would not be able to succeed to the throne and would be named a bastard. Queen Catherine was formally stripped of her title on the 1st June 1533 - the same day that Anne had been crowned Queen Consort and had also had a magnificent ceremony in Westminster Abbey. She was crowned with St Edward’s crown, which was presumably because she was heavily pregnant at the time and was carrying a child which was thought to be male.

Princess Elizabeth I - the later Queen Elizabeth I who would go onto become one of the most popular reigning sovereigns, and whose reign was known as the “Golden Age” - was born in Greenwich Palace on the 7th September 1533. As early as Christmas 1534, Anne was pregnant and had either a still-birth or a miscarriage. By this time, Henry began discussing the possibility of divorcing Anne with Cromwell and Cranmer. Nothing came of this and the couple reconciled, ending in Anne being pregnant by October 1535.

On the 8th January 1536, Catherine of Aragon’s death reached Henry and Anne. They were both overjoyed and wore yellow - the colour of joy and celebration - the very next day. Anne, happy with Catherine’s death, tried to make peace with Mary, who rejected her proposal and said that she recognised no queen other than her mother. By this time, Anne was newly pregnant and cautious of what would happen if she failed to give birth to a son to carry Henry’s bloodline. She knew that Henry would be free to marry without illegality because of Catherine’s death, which caused her to miscarriage along with the fact that she claimed it was because of Henry being unhorsed in a jousting tournament and was thought to be dead for two hours.

Once recovered, Henry declared that he had been seduced into marrying Anne by way of “sortilege” - deception or spells, and he moved his new mistress, Jane Seymour, into the royal quarters. He also refused Anne’s brother a prestigious court honour - the Order of the Garter, and gave it instead to Sir Nicholas Carew. On the 2nd May 1536, Anne was arrested after several claims of infidelity (an example being Mark Smeaton, a Flemish musician) and witchcraft (by Henry). She was taken to the Tower of London by a barge and likely entered through the Court Gate instead of the Traitor’s Gate. According to sources, she collapsed in the tower after demanding to know the location of her father and “swete broder”, and also the charges against her.

On May 19th, Anne was executed on a scaffold erected on the north side of the White Tower (in front of the Waterloo Barracks). Apparently she showed a “devilish spirit” and looked “as gay as if she was not going to die”. She was executed knelt upright - the French way, and her final prayer consisted of her repeating “to Jesus Christ I commend my soul; Lord Jesus receive my soul” over and over again. It was said to have consisted of one single stroke, and the executioner had to shout “where’s my sword?” so that Anne angled her head correctly for him to make a clean cut.