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Bess the Commoner Queen

Tickets for Bess the Commoner Queen at The Lowry

"In these troubled times, Fortune hangs by a single thread..."

A unique insight into the political intrigues of Elizabethan England, as witnessed first-hand by "Bess of Hardwick". Bess was the closest female friend and Lady-in-Waiting to Elizabeth I and, at the same time, confidante to Mary Queen of Scots, whom Bess and her 4th husband (the Earl of Shrewsbury) kept under "house-arrest" for over 15 years until Mary's execution.

"Who'd 'ave thought, this Derbyshire lass would one day be tab-hanging between two great queens?"

Born a farmer's daughter, Bess "the commoner queen" rose to become the richest woman in Elizabethan England. She created the Cavendish dynasty and became a maker of queens. Her grand-daughter, Arbella Stuart, was second-in-line to James I and groomed by Bess to become queen and Bess  counts amongst her descendants our current Queen Elizabeth II and her heirs to the throne via Lady Diana Spencer.

"My epitaph will say, 'she built magnificent buildings',

and yet I find that building is not so hard:

one brick on another like a house of cards;

but a legacy? A legacy is not of brick but blood

and cannot readily be understood."

This is a female story of survival and astonishing business success in the brutal world of Elizabethan politics.

"Everyone casts a shadow in the sun: we all hath good and bad deeds done."

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