Favorite, foe, rival—a gripping tale of the countess who dared cross a queen amidst the dangerous intrigues of Elizabethan England.
A kinswoman to Elizabeth I, Lettice Knollys had begun the Queen’s glittering reign basking in favor and success. It was an honor that she would enjoy for two decades. However, on the morning of September 21st, 1578, Lettice made a fateful decision. When the Queen learned of it, the consequences were swift. Lettice had dared to marry without the Queen’s consent. But worse, her new husband was Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, the Queen’s favorite and one-time suitor.
Though she would not marry him herself, Elizabeth was fiercely jealous of any woman who showed an interest in Leicester. Knowing that she would likely earn the Queen’s enmity, Lettice married Leicester in secret, leading to her permanent banishment from court. Elizabeth never forgave the new Countess for what she perceived to be a devastating betrayal, and Lettice permanently forfeited her favor. She had become not just Queen Elizabeth’s adversary. She was her rival.
But the Countess’ story does not end there. Surviving the death of two husbands and navigating the courts of three very different monarchs: Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, and Charles I, Lettice’s story offers an extraordinary and intimate perspective on the world she lived in.
Nicola Tallis achieved a first-class bachelor’s degree with honors in history from Bath Spa University. She also has an MA in Public History from Royal Holloway College, University of London. Nicola has been passionate about English history all of her life, and has worked as a curator, lecturer, and historical researcher. She is currently the resident historian for Alison Weir Tours. Crown of Blood, her first book, is the result of five years of research on the Grey family.
"Just when you thought there was nothing new to learn about Elizabethan England, Tallis tells the compelling story of Lettice Knollys. The author provides an informative, well-crafted narrative and easily avoids the confusion of the nobility's many titles. Anyone who loves English royal history will enjoy this new take on a personality surprisingly little mentioned in the history books."
– Kirkus Reviews
"An eminently readable portrait of a fascinating woman. Highly recommended for readers of biography and Tudor history. Tallis’s meticulous research and understanding of the intricacies of Elizabethan court life allow Knollys to emerge from undeserved obscurity to take center stage as a fearless, strong-willed woman who shared many of the characteristics of her royal rival, and who paid dearly for daring to follow her heart."
– Library Journal
"A thorough first biography of Lettice Knollys that also serves as an excellent view of the Elizabethan era from a noblewoman’s perspective. Tallis includes pictures, genealogies, a timeline, an extensive bibliography, and notes to round out this work, which is a great choice for historians and lay readers alike."
– Publishers Weekly
"Praise for Crown of Blood:
Tallis takes this thin slice of fact and serves it up as a full banquet, filling in history’s faint outline. The telling is by necessity speculative, since so little primary source material exists. Nevertheless, Tallis perseveres, presenting Jane as 'a spirited girl who demonstrated character, passion, talent and strength,' a serious bookworm who grew up in a household where new ideas flourished."
– The New York Times Book Review
"Tallis brings this tragic teen to vivid life in her perceptive and thoughtful new book."
– Christian Science Monitor
"Astunning debut from a young historian who deserves to be recognized as a major talent in her field. It's history as it should be written—vivid, colorful, and evocative."
– Alison Weir, #1 New York Times bestselling author