Maria Gunning; The Woman Who Was Thought to be the Most Beautiful Woman in London, England During the 16th Century

Maria-Gunning

George William Coventry, the 6th Earl of Coventry, married Maria Gunning who was said to be the most beautiful woman in London, England, so beautiful in fact that grown men claim to have fainted when in her presence. Gunning wore a heavy layer of lead and mercury based makeup which caused blood poisoning and began to eat away at her skin. It is reported that Gunning only had the light of a tea kettle in her room, because she was so devastated by the damage done to her face by the makeup she wore. Venetian Ceruse, also referred to as “Spirits of Saturn”, was the 16th century cosmetic skin whitening agent which Gunning used. Venetian Ceruse was in great demand and considered the best available cosmetic during the era. The problem with lead and mercury based cosmetological products is that this compound contains acids which eat away at the skin and cause further blemishes which then in turn require even more concealer be used, causing a vicious cyclical scenario (e.g. further blemishes lead to more makeup, and more makeup, leads to ever further blemishes). It is believed that Queen Elizabeth I also used Venetian Ceruse to achieve her iconic pale beauty standard

Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots

Queen-Elizabeth-I

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, being a Catholic was illegal and those suspected of practicing Catholicism were charged with treason against England. Elizabeth I was the cousin of Mary Queen of Scots, and after Mary Queen of Scots was forcibly removed from her kingdom, she was brought in by Elizabeth I despite their difference in religion. Mary Queen of Scots was a devout Catholic and Elizabeth I was a practicing Protestant. Eventually, rumors circulated that Mary Queen of Scots would try to usurp the throne from her cousin. Clandestine messages were sent inside the heels of shoes, within the personal private areas of servants, within the pages of books, and using many other inventive solutions. The most effective way of sending secret messages during this period, was inside the cork of beer barrels as none of Elizabeth I guards ever thought to look there. Lemon juice was used as invisible ink which when heated with a candle flame, revealed clear messages and enabled Mary Queen of Scots and her allies to conspire against Elizabeth I. Mary Queen of Scots was eventually entrapped and convicted with her co-conspirators being publicly hung nearly until death, then brought down and disemboweled and shown their bowels, after which their limbs were cut off and displayed in prominent parts of London, England. Mary Queen of Scots was stayed of her execution as Elizabeth I would not sign her death warrant. It is estimated that this period is when British intelligence, specifically MI5 and MI6, began to formulate. The abbreviation “MI” stands for “military intelligence” and each number stands for “section 5” and “section 6”