Tudor England was a time of upheaval and change, a dangerous time of huge opportunities and ambitions which often led to death on the scaffold or executioner’s block. Jane Dormer’s life was lived at the centre of this storm. She was a childhood companion of the future Edward VI, went on to be lady-in-waiting to Queen Mary, was addressed by Elizabeth I as “our right dear and right entirely beloved cousin”.
Philip II of Spain relied on her advice regarding matters in England. She came to know Mary Queen of Scots in France and remained a close friend. Intimate with five monarchs, she also corresponded with James I, Philip III of Spain and at least three popes.
Her life mirrored the divisions of that age: her family divided between Catholicism and Protestantism, her marriage to a Spaniard pitching her into an enemy camp. The extraordinary integrity of her life somehow made this work: loyalty to Crown, devotion to God and love of family. A remarkable life.
Simon Courtauld has written two previous books on Spain. During a career in journalism, he has been legal correspondent of The Times, deputy editor of The Spectator, editor of The Field and currently writes a column on his kitchen garden in Wiltshire in The Oldie.