Court of honour

Elizabeth Bassett (maid-of-honour)

Elizabeth Bassett was an English noblewoman who served at the court of King Henry VIII, and was briefly jailed for speaking against him. She was born c. 1522. Elizabeth was one of the youngest children of Sir John Bassett and Honor Grenville. Her siblings were: Philippa, b.1516; Katherine, b.1517; John, b.1518; Anne, b.1521; Elizabeth; George, b.c. 1522–5; and James, b.c. 1526–7. She was brought up by her mother and stepfather, Arthur Plantagenet, viscount Lisle, the King's uncle. Lisle governed Calais, the enclave which then belonged to England but is now part of France.

Her sister Anne Bassett was rumored to be a mistress of Henry VIII, who showered Anne with great gifts and kept her at court even after their stepfather was sent to the Tower of London for treason, for allegedly plotting to betray Calais to the French. According to another rumour, Anne was being considered for Henry's sixth wife on the eve of Queen Catherine Howard's execution.

Elizabeth gained a position in the household of Anne of Cleves, whose marriage to Henry had been annulled. Anne was living in Hever Castle, the old family seat of the Boleyn family. Elizabeth came to public attention at the same time that her sister was supposedly being considered as queen, when she was arrested for possible treasonous utterings. She is said to have gossiped that Catherine Howard's misdemeanours and execution were God showing Henry that his previous marriage to Anne of Cleves was valid. Elizabeth clearly had a lot of respect for her mistress. She is also said to have exclaimed, "What a man is the King! How many wives will he have?" She did not spend long in custody.


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