‘Good Agreement Betwixt the Wombe and Frute’: The Politics of Maternal Power in the Letters of Lady Anne Bacon
The letters of Lady Anne Bacon and her sons Anthony and Francis offer a rare opportunity to examine the adult mother and son relationship in the early modern period. This chapter considers how mothering is political, focusing on the changing nature of Anne’s maternal care-giving as her status evolved from wife to widow and as her involvement and direction of her sons’ political and professional life increased. The status of the Bacon family and their involvement in court politics combined with Anne’s extensive humanist education created a complex mother–son relationship that gave rise to significant intergenerational conflict. The methods by which both sides attempted to resolve this conflict, by drawing on advice from their wider friendship and kin circles in an attempt to redefine the role of the mother, are analysed, with a particular focus on how the concept of ‘good mothering’ is used to control Anne.