Harlots, Housewives and Heroines: seventeenth century women

I’ve been told that they’ve already been showing trailers for ‘Harlots, Housewives and Heroines’ starting May 22nd on BBC4 at 9pm: this is the official BBC explanation of what it’s all about.

‘In this new three-part series historian and Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces Dr Lucy Worsley immerses herself in the world of Restoration England, exploring the captivating lives of the women of the period.

The years after the Civil War and the Restoration of Charles II marked the end of the medieval era and the beginning of the modern age. These were exciting times for women, some of whom displayed remarkably modern attitudes and ambitions, achieving wealth, celebrity and power in ways that still look outstanding by 21st century standards. But these women also faced a world that was predominantly male, misogynistic and medieval in its outlook.

In the first episode Lucy investigates the lives of women at the top: the King’s mistresses at the Royal Court. When Charles and his entourage returned from exile they came back with a host of continental ideas, and as a result some of the women at court rose to prominence as never before, gaining unprecedented political influence and independence.

Amongst a fascinating cast of female characters, the most astonishing were Charles II’s own mistresses: the Royalist, Barbara Villiers, the French spy Louise de Keroualle and the infamous Cockney actress, Nell Gwynn.

Lucy examines the lives of these women, discovering how their fortunes were shaped by the Restoration and how their stories reflect the atmosphere of these extraordinary years. As she discovers, these women were key Restoration players, but as mistresses were truly in charge of their own destinies – or simply part of the world’s oldest profession?’

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *