Author Topic: (In)famous Stuart Noblewomen  (Read 2165 times)

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(In)famous Stuart Noblewomen
« on: June 07, 2006, 09:50:55 PM »
Charlotte de la Tremouille Stanley, the Countess of Derby, was left in charge of Lathom House, her husband’s principal residence, while he served in the Royalist army during the Civil War.  Lathom House had a misleading name: it was a castle that had nine towers, each of which was equipped with cannons; it had a moat; and it had defensive walls and gates.  It was put under siege by a detachment from Parliament’s army that amounted to about 3000 men.  Everyone thought that the siege would be short and successful since Charlotte, a mere female, was in charge and her garrison comprised only 300 men.  She refused to surrender and put up a remarkable fight.  Her garrison regularly sallied forth and attacked the besiegers while she directed operations via flag signals from the roof of one of the towers.  During the course of the siege, her garrison killed about 500 enemy troops and captured a large number of prisoners, as well as standards, weapons, and so forth.  Only a handful of her garrison was killed during this process.  

Her success embarrassed the besiegers dreadfully.  They sent her a letter that they’d received from her husband; it urged her to surrender and retreat for the sake of her safety and that of their children, but she claimed that the letter was spurious.  She refused to surrender unless her husband came in person to order her to do so.  She warned the besiegers that if they continued to send her letters that urged her to surrender, she’d start hanging the messengers from her gates.  She also warned that if it looked like she’d lose the siege, she’d set Lathom House on fire, along with everyone in it, before she’d surrender it to rebels; her garrison cheered her words wildly.  The besiegers were rather flummoxed, but they refused to lift the siege.  It was finally abandoned about two months after it started.  On the orders of her husband and King Charles, she retreated to the Isle of Man with her children and remained there, taking no further part in the war.  Lathom House was later captured by Parliament.  It was sacked and looted so thoroughly that it was rendered uninhabitable and was later torn down.  Charlotte’s husband was captured at the battle of Worcester and beheaded, but she lived to see the Restoration.