Jan 212015

I think a lot of people may have seen Susan Higginbotham’s Tudor Cosmo girls. I thought they were really funny so I decided to try my hand at making a few Stuart ones.

Cosmo Frances Howard edition

For those not entirely familiar with Frances and her fascinating story, I offer you these links, plus a brief explanation.

She was the daughter of the Earl of Suffolk and initially married the Earl of Essex (son of Elizabeth’s favourite). However, the marriage was a failure and was never consummated (both parties seem to haveagreed on that), and after a few years divorce proceedings were initiated (separation was much easier but then they would technically still be married and not able to remarry and Essex would be unable to ever get an heir). One of the few grounds for divorce was impotence, but in order for both parties to be able to remarry, Essex’s impotence had to be specific – they had to claim he could perform with other women, just not with Frances.

She had meanwhile fallen in love with Robert Carr, James’s current favourite and wanted to marry him. One obstacle was the fact that his best friend, Sir Thomas Overbury (who some experts claim is really the sitter in the most famous portrait others claim to be of William Shakespeare), hated her and tried to sabotage the relationship. He was imprisoned in the Tower on trumped up charges where he died.

A few years later stories surfaced about how Overbury had been poisoned by Frances (one of the more piquant details in the drama was Frances’s addiction to astrology and witchcraft and her reliance on the infamous necromancer Simon Forman), and it was claimed that “letters” was used as a code word for poison. She and her husband were convicted for the murder and, after a few years in the Tower, exiled to the country, where she died a few years later of uterine cancer, just 42 years old.

Earlier: the Anne of Denmark issue

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