Bess of Hardwick: An Elizabethan Tycoon

Bess of Hardwick: An Elizabethan Tycoon

The life of Bess of Hardwick - one of the most remarkable people who lived in England in the late Tudor period. Her social ascendance from a relatively humble Midlands family to becoming the Countess of Shrewsbury.

Wyn Derbyshire describes how Bess navigated the political and legal challenges for her to retain her wealth and independence in the Tudor period.

Illustrated with colour pictures, the book also includes a timeline and family trees.

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Bess of Hardwick was one of the most remarkable people who lived in England in the late Tudor period. Born a daughter of a relatively humble Midlands family, she was married and widowed four times, on each occasion raising her social status until she ultimately became the Countess of Shrewsbury.

An enthusiast of fine buildings, she left behind Hardwick Hall and Chatsworth House as prime examples of Elizabethan prodigy houses. She also left important genetic legacies in the form of her descendants, and is an ancestress of much of the British aristocracy for the last few hundred years.

Whilst she lived at a time when the laws and customs of the land made it difficult for women to exercise any real form of economic or social independence, Bess succeeded in acquiring a personal fortune which not only made her the second wealthiest woman in the kingdom after Queen Elizabeth herself, but for generations after her served as the financial bedrock upon which her descendants would continue to build, in some cases right up to the present day.



Chapter 1 Beginnings

Chapter 2 Lady Cavendish

Chapter 3 Buying Chatsworth

Chapter 4 “Our Great Misery”

Chapter 5 Lady of the Privy Chamber

Chapter 6 Lady St Loe

Chapter 7 Widowed Again

Chapter 8 Countess of Shrewsbury

Chapter 9 “The Scotes Queen cumes to Tutbury …”

Chapter 10 Death of Norfolk

Chapter 11 Birth of Arbella

Chapter 12 Lewd Fellows of the Peak

Chapter 13 A Growing Estrangement

Chapter 14 “I had the certain promise of the Countess”

Chapter 15 Execution of a Queen

Chapter 16 “Look to her well …”

Chapter 17 Death of an Earl

Chapter 18 Return to Derbyshire

Chapter 19 Hardwick New Hall

Chapter 20 The Fall of Essex

Chapter 21 “I think she hath some vapours on her brain.”

Chapter 22 The Final Days

Chapter 23 Legacy


  1. In which year was Bess born?
  2. The Scandal Letter
  3. What Happened to Bess’s Immediate Family and Arbella?

Bess of Hardwick Timeline

Bess of Hardwick Family Tree

Select Bibliography

Author Biography

Other Titles

Bess of Hardwick has always been one of the most remarkable figures in Tudor History. A woman born of genteel background, Bess climbed to the heights of Elizabethan society through her four marriages that each left her richer than the last. Ambitious and intelligent, Bess was a woman seemingly linked to all whether it be landowners, the rich and elite or even royalty. Heavily influential for her passion in building, Bess is forever linked to the ownership and development of the original Chatsworth and both Old Hardwick Hall and New Hardwick Hall.

Derbyshire has created a fascinating and highly readable insight into Bess's life, painting a vivid picture of the turbulent and deadly times in which she lived.

Accessible, well structured and with a compelling narrative, the author details a perfectly balanced view of Bess who has always been a controversial figure. Her strengths and her flaws are explored in equal measure providing an impartial account to this powerhouse woman of the Tudor Era.

Deeply researched and highly informative, Derbyshire writes in an engaging manner and brings prominence back to this incredible woman who lived so many centuries ago. This book will in no doubt delight any of those fascinated by important figures of the Tudor Age.

Fascinating and highly readable insight into Bess's life on Nov 30, 2021 historic_chronicles
Product Format
234 x 156
Publication Date
Aug 10, 2022
Number of Pages
Product Format
234 x 156
Publication Date
Aug 10, 2022
Number of Pages