Mary Rich, Countess of Warwick - A Good Woman and a Great Lady

'Bold is the man that dare engage For Piety in such an age' wrote a seventeenth-century poet. Yet, as Antonia Fraser shows here, the aristocratic Puritan, Mary Rich, sought to serve God as much by her tenacious moral example as by her prayers.

'My friend,... I have really found more satisfaction in serving God, than ever I found in all the good things of the world, of which you know I have had my share': the tone is that of a great lady who has renounced the world – an aristocratic mother superior of a convent perhaps, had the letter derived from Catholic times. But their author, Mary Rich, Countess of Warwick, addressing one she estimated – probably correctly – in danger of corruption by Restoration morals, had by no means eschewed the world. She viewed the salacious antics of the court of Charles II with disapproval based on knowledge and when the trumpets sounded within the Whitehall banqueting house, they sounded in her own ears – for they put her in mind of a more ominous resonance to come, that of the Last Trump.

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