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The Windsor Beauties: Ladies of the Court of Charles II Hardcover – July 31, 2005
From the Publisher
The Windsor Beauties is the first book in the Victorian Heritage Press imprint and heralds the beginning of a new era of historiography. Every possible effort is made to reproduce the original text of these classic history books while providing invaluable new cues to the modern lay reader. Footnotes provide historical details on people and places which are no longer contemporary with the original work. A glossary provides definitions of words which are unfamiliar or obscure in the twenty-first century. Fresh translations of 17th century French prose and poetry provide new insights into characters of history.
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This book was not worth what I paid for it
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Melville, however, goes beyond merely reproducing each painting and reciting the details of its creation. He also details the world in which these women lived, the reputations under which they thrived (or suffered), and the contemporary views of them held by their peers and others. For instance, Melville's two chapters devoted to Barbara, Duchess of Cleveland (whose portrait graces the cover of the book) contain several excerpts from the diary of Samuel Pepys regarding her life and doings. While it's nearly impossible to disentangle fact from gossip, especially four hundred years after the fact, these vignettes provide a look into the lives of the ladies Levy so brilliantly portrayed in the paintings commissioned by the Duchess of York. The Windsor Beauties is a valuable source for anyone interested in post-Civil War painting, portraiture, or the court of Charles II.
First published in 1921, this book has been reissued by Victorian Heritage Press in a revised edition, with explanatory footnotes, translations, and a glossary added. This is obviously a labor of love, one designed to make Melville's enjoyable accounts accessible to a new generation of readers. Though the research could have been more solidly based (I had a problem with the reliance on Wikipedia as a source, especially when the shelves overflow with so many excellent scholarly works on Stuart England), this is a welcome resuscitation of a useful study of the English upper class in the 17th century.
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Samuel Pepys was born in London, England in 1633.Read more