I think my brain is melting.
This is another one of those books that you don’t pick up unless you have specific need for the concrete facts it contains. If you aren’t already familiar with Tudor politics, you’ll be lost within a few pages; hell, even I gave up on the first article after the introduction, which concerns the politics of the fifteenth century royal household, and is therefore way out of my period. But, like with the Hampton Court book, I started out by reading the chapter on Elizabeth, then had to backtrack to earlier pieces in order to understand what the hell I’d just read.
Having gone through the sections on Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Mary, though, I now understand a lot better just what the Privy Chamber was, and what the various titles in it meant. (I also have seven pages of notes on who was in what post when.) I can tell you the differences between the Ladies of the Bedchamber, the Gentlewomen of the Privy Chamber, the Chamberers, the Maids of Honour, and the Ladies Extraordinary of the Privy Chamber; I can tell you what happened to the Gentlemen of the Privy Chamber, the Grooms of the Privy Chamber, and the Gentlemen Ushers when a female monarch took over. It’s a palimpsest, again; one cannot understand these things without reference to previous reigns.
Also? I may never again be able to play in a LARP focusing on noble politics; now that I have a better sense of how they really work, the vague attempts we make in those games will probably frustrate me more than they already did. (I’m not sure it’s possible to play such a game without putting in seventeen times more effort than anybody wants to, because ultimately those things don’t hinge on the big decisions. It’s all about the accretion of little favors and offices and insults and rewards and rivalries and family relations and other things that, like Rome, cannot be built in a day. Also, anything really important in politics takes weeks, months, or years to play out.)
Anyway, taking notes on the Elizabethan chapter as I went through it for the second time melted my brain, so now I’m going to go do something that doesn’t require me to think.