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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: February ::
Re: Privy Chamber
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0376  Wednesday, 26 February 2003

From:           David Lindley <
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Date:           Tuesday, 25 Feb 2003 16:35:48 GMT0BST
Subject:        Re: Privy Chamber

Whilst previous postings on the Privy Council and Chamber are not wrong,
its function changed decisively under James VI and I.  There is an
excellent article by Neil Cuddy, in the book edited by David Starkey,
The English Court from the Wards of the Roses to the Civil War (Longman,
1987).  He recounts the way in which the Privy Chamber was downgraded in
effectiveness, and was used 'for two main purposes: formal audiences
with Secretaries of State and masters of Requests, and the semi-public
dining in the Scoto-French fashion which [James] so much enjoyed'.  It
was those appointed to be Gentlemen of the Bedchamber who now had the
closest contact with the king - and most of them were Scots.

It's all about the difference between personal access to a monarch, and
formal political office - Cuddy suggests that it was precisely the way
in which 'with the institution of the Bedchamber, even the inner
councillors no longer had an automatic claim to the nearest access to
the monarch', and recounts the problems this caused for Robert Cecil in
the early years of James's reign.

David Lindley
University of Leeds

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