chapter  9
14 Pages

‘A Stranger Born’: Female Usage of International Networks in Times of War

Charlotte de La Trémoïlle was the daughter of the Huguenot duc et pair Claude de La Trémoïlle and Charlotte-Brabantine of Nassau, a daughter of William the Silent.1 Charlotte was born in 1599, lost her father at the age of five and was brought up partly by her mother in Poitou, and partly at The Hague by her step-grandmother, Louise de Coligny. There, she was not only treated as the niece of the stadhouders Maurice and Frederick-Henry, but was also received at the exile court of the king of Bohemia, her cousin. At The Hague, she was introduced to James Stanley, the future seventh earl of Derby, whom she married in 1626. At a time when AngloFrench relations were rapidly declining, this marriage was difficult to negotiate. Charlotte de La Trémoïlle followed her husband to England, first to the court then to his country seat of Lathom in Lancashire. She famously conducted the siege of Lathom in the early stages of the Civil War, then retreated to the Isle of Man. At the Restoration she was again drawn to court in the hope of finding a placement in the royal household. From her arrival in England until her death in 1664 Charlotte kept an intensive epistolary exchange with her sister-in-law, Marie de La Tour, the duchesse de La Trémoïlle. This correspondence, which stretches over 40 years, is an exceptionally rich source which provides insights into the building and working of family networks which external documents often fail to grasp.