Print CollectorGetty Images
Princess Diana was neither the first nor the only Lady Spencer to cause a sensation, indeed, one wonders what media storm the figure of her great-great-great-aunt Georgian would unleash today. Born on 7 June 1757 in Althorp, the Spencer residence which also saw Diana’s birthplace, “Gee” – as she was called by her friends of hers – grows up in a very close family and is considered by all to be the spearhead of her generation. Beautiful, intelligent, curious and much loved, she is only seventeen when she marries her golden bachelor of her time, the very rich and powerful William Cavendish, fifth Duke of Devonshire, eight years her senior. Although she met him only three times at the time of the wedding, she married Georgiana enthusiastically, aware of the prestige that this union brings to her family and convinced that she can replicate a conjugal happiness that she breathed within the walls of her home; the chronicle of the time, in fact, describes the marriage of her parents as a particularly idyllic union and without a trace of extra-marital relations – an absolute rarity for those years.
Unfortunately, however, the Duke is of a completely different nature: detached, devoted mainly to his dogs and gambling, fiercely unfaithful, interested only in producing a male heir, the Duke is soon defined in society as “the only one Englishman not to be in love with his wife “. Which, on the other hand, everyone likes her and becomes an icon of style and elegance, to the point of being considered the most influential woman of English high society. Courted by Labor politicians for her commitment and for the visibility she manages to bring to their causes, Georgiana meets the aspiring – and future – Prime Minister Charles Gray, with whom a special friendship is born but kept in check, at least initially, by the her marital duties. After having welcomed an illegitimate daughter of the Duke, had by a house maid, she Georgiana manages to get pregnant several times, but the only pregnancies that come to term give birth to two girls. The Duke’s disappointment at the lack of a male heir exacerbates relations to the point that Georgiana seeks refuge in increasingly wild worldliness, which includes heavy drinking and gambling: in her life, the Duchess will be a famous accumulator of debts. , to the point of playing a whole fortune. Another consolation of the Duchess is the almost morbid friendship that is born with Lady Elisabeth Foster – known by all as Bess -, branded in society for having been repudiated for another woman and deprived of her own children – three males – that her ex-husband prevents her from seeing. Given this dramatic situation, it is not surprising that Bess takes advantage of the Duchess’s benevolence, and the power of the Duke, to attempt social rehabilitation.
Bess enters the Cavendish house as a guest and then stays there permanently; she soon becomes the Duke’s lover, to the terrible suffering of Georgiana who, after initial attempts to oppose the situation, finally surrenders to ménage a trois – so defined by the chronicles of the times, even if there is no evidence of a sexual relationship between the two women -. If having lovers was a common practice for the English aristocrats, the cohabitation of three creates a certain sensation even in the society of the times, but the immense fortune of the Duke allows him to follow his own rules. Finally given birth to a male, namesake of her father and future 6th Duke of Devonshire, the Duchess can reclaim the right to have a lover and enters into a relationship with Charles Gray. She became pregnant with him, she is essentially exiled by the Duke in France, where she has the task of ending the pregnancy away from prying eyes and then delivering the unborn child to the Gray family. The little girl, named Eliza, will therefore grow up with her father, but she will have an assiduous relationship with her Duchess and finally, when she turns her mother to her, she will call her first daughter Georgiana . Readmitted to her Cavendish house, the Duchess is forced to leave Gray under the blackmail of not being able to see her children anymore. At this point Georgiana is just under forty and her health is beginning to decline. An eye infection requires surgery that leaves her scarred, which, as she writes in her diaries, “lifts her from the intangible weight of sheer beauty.” Author of several writings, she dedicates her last years to composing short stories and poems, publishing two novels: “Sylph ” and “The passage of the Mountain of Saint Gothard”, in which he recounts the journey through the Alps made in France with Bess. Despite the bizarre threesome relationship, the two women remain friends until the end.
On Georgiana’s death in 1806, Bess becomes the second Duchess of Devonshire, but the first Duchess is mourned by everyone, first of all by her husband, who seems to have despaired at her death and declared for the first time how much he loved her. . Georgiana’s biography has given rise to a plethora of novels and dramas; to report the film “The Duchess” (2008), where the Dukes are played by Keira Knightley and Ralph Finnies under the direction of Saul Dibb.
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io