Presenting a fascinating biography of an extraordinary woman, this is essential reading for those interested in the 16th century and Tudor history. Born the daughter of an impoverished Derbyshire squire, through a succession of advantageous marriages, Bess of Hardwick moved closer and closer to a position of power and influence in the heart of the royal court. As the Countess of Shrewsbury, she was the second most powerful woman in the land after Queen Elizabeth I. However, Bess of Hardwick was not just someone who married well but a formidable and talented business woman who ran her estates with great acumen and who became one of the richest women in England. Queen Elizabeth I held Bess in such esteem that she entrusted her with the important and arduous task of acting as jailer to Mary, Queen of Scots. During her lifetime Bess built two great country houses which are still admired todayChatsworth and Hardwickand fulfilled her lifetime's ambition of founding a great dynasty. By the end of the 19th century, her blood was flowing through most of the aristocratic families of England, and she more than guaranteed her status as one of the most remarkable women in Tudor history.