Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Today In History, Happy Birthday Robert Dudley

The notorious ladies man Robert Dudley 1st Earl of Leicester's birthday was June 24Th 1532. He was long time favorite of Queen Elizabeth I being named master of the horse, privy councillor, and later became Lord Steward of the Royal Household. He was Elizabeth's champion of the Protestant faith. Lavishing Elizabeth in frequent entertainments designed specifically to please her.

He was also married to Amy Robsart who fell down a flight of stairs and died in 1560. Court rumor's had been flying over Robert and Elizabeth's close relationship many believed them to be lovers, and now that his wife was dead in a freak accident. Many took the opportunity to slander the queen's favorite, and go so far to speculate that he had done away with her.

His grandfather, father, and brother were all executed for treason to the crown. The latter trying to start a
monarchy called "The Tree of Commonwealth" was executed after trying to escape by Henry VIII. Father and brother were later executed for unsuccessfully trying to place lady Jane Grey on the throne. Jane was executed and Dudley was still imprisoned for aiding his rebellious father with Jane's placement. Robert was condemned to die with them but miraculously he remained a prisoner in the Tower of London by Queen Mary. Coincidentally Elizabeth also had been sent to the Tower on the orders of her half-sister, the Queen.

After being released it is said the two became close at Hatfield Robert even helped her out financially at one point. All the while he was still married to Amy. Elizabeth came to the crown when her half sister Mary died childless. Robert planned an elaborate coronation for Elizabeth. Having been close most of their lives Elizabeth bestowed upon him titles, lands, estates, and eventually Dudley's bedchamber at court was invariably adjacent to Elizabeth's or had a private access to her.

Sadly Elizabeth would never marry Robert after Amy's death. The court would not tolerate him as king, they had a hard enough time excepting him as favorite. The court would try to push Elizabeth into a different direction of a foreign marriage. Robert was a notorious lover of many women and many men hated him and who he descended from. He ended up marrying Lettice Knolly's first cousin once removed of Queen Elizabeth on her mother's side. He could not have Elizabeth so he settle for her cousin. A rift had developed between them but it did diminish her fondness for him. Elizabeth although did pretty much ban Lettice from all social events and refereed to her as "the she-wolf".

In July 1588, the Earl of Leicester was appointed "Lieutenant and Captain-General of the Queen's Armies and Companies" as the Spanish Armada came nearer, he was beside Elizabeth on her famous review of the troops. After victory, he dined every day alone with the Queen. A week after farewell to Elizabeth, he died on his way to Derbyshire to take the bath. Elizabeth was devastated at the loss of her old friend and "honorary consort"
and locked herself in her apartment for a few days, until Lord Burghley had the door broken down. She kept his letter that he had sent her only six days before his death, and wrote on it "His Last Letter." She put it in her treasure box at her bedside, and it was still there when she died 15 years later.

For further reading about Robert my favorites are The queens Fool by Philippa Gregory and The Queen's Bastard by Robin Maxwell


  1. Hey LizzyJ:) Wonderful post! It seems that great minds think alike..go check out my Wordy Wednesday at my Plaidy blog lol!!

  2. I know right! I swear Robert is my favorite leading man, next to Henry VIII. Robin being the better! I read yours too and I love the jewelry but out of my price range, ah to Dream. I want it all!

  3. Yummy.


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