It’s rare that a royal mistress becomes a royal wife. Even rarer when the mistress isn’t from the nobility! By Karin Mansdotter wasn’t married to an ordinary King, and her fate wouldn’t quite be the same as other Queens.
Category: Royal Mistresses
“Let not poor Nellie starve”.
This is reported to be one of the last requests that King Charles II made to his brother James shortly before his death. Charles had had multiple mistresses during his life, and Eleanor “Nell” Gwyn was just one of several long-term favourites. But unlike her contemporaries, who had powerful families and connections to protect them after his death, Nell was a commoner who could easily be dropped by her supporters, thus the request that his brother help her after he was gone.
Many Kings had mistresses, either as brief flings to more long-term commitments. Only the French court turned this in to a semi-official role, with the title “maitress-on-titre” waiting to be bestowed on a favourite with real staying power. In the case of one woman it lasted over a decade, and faced regular condemnation from the Catholic church.
For centuries Alice Perrers has been portrayed as an ugly but intelligent woman, who seduced a King, took him for all she could get, and then disappeared in to a quiet retirement. But recent work by historians, particularly around documents held at the National Archives, have managed to draw out a more rounded picture.