Elizabeth and Robert: A Dangerous Liaison

Posted By claire on February 8, 2011

The Tudor Secret C W GortnerToday, we have a guest post from C W Gorner, author of “The Last Queen”, “The Confessions of Catherine de Medici” and the recently released “The Tudor Secret”, the first book in a series called the Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles. You can read my review of “The Tudor Secret” over at our Tudor Book Review site – click here

Elizabeth and Robert: A Dangerous Liaison

by C W Gortner

Elizabeth Tudor, better known to history as Queen Elizabeth I, was unexpected. Her parents, the glamorous Anne Boleyn and formidable Henry VIII, were convinced that the child Anne carried was a long-awaited son. Yet the boy Henry had so yearned for and torn his realm apart to obtain turned out to be a girl, born with what seemed to be a curse writ into her fate. Within three years, Henry would behead her mother and re-marry four times; she’d gain a younger brother, Edward, in addition to her older sister Mary; face a daunting fight for her life that would test her to her core; and would, if the legend is true, fall impossibly in love with one man— Robert Dudley.

In one of the few portraits we have of Elizabeth in her youth, we see a brittle red-haired princess with spidery fingers—so reminiscent of her mother’s—clad in an ornamental red dress against a curtained backdrop. She stares enigmatically at us, secrets lurking in her dark eyes. Keenly intelligent, arguably as alluring as Anne ever was, this portrait was painted shortly before troubled adolescence catapulted Elizabeth into an ultimately lethal flirtation with Thomas Seymour. It must have been an unforgettable lesson for the impressionable princess of the dangers inherent in her nascent sexuality. Certainly, if she’d harbored any doubts before, nurtured on whispered stories of her mother’s horrifying end, the execution of Seymour proved to Elizabeth that in her world, sex certainly could equal death.

Many believe, however, that when it came to Robert Dudley, this trauma was superseded by inescapable desire. Elizabeth and Robert are inextricably linked, two halves of a fractured whole. They cut their teeth in one of the most treacherous courts in history, witnessing early on the consequences of unbridled ambition or passion. If ever there were two people who should have known better, it was they. Yet their own dangerous liaison lasted a lifetime, epic in its unattainable promise and darkened by rumors of murder and betrayal. Elizabeth knew the price those who courted her could pay; and Robert was the favored son of a family stained by treason. Still, they gravitated to each other like stars on an unstoppable collision course. What drew these two powerful personalities together?

In The Tudor Secret, we meet Elizabeth in her nineteenth year. Four years have passed since the execution of Seymour and she’s a seasoned veteran of the court, wary and fully aware of the perils lurking behind every tapestry. Propelled by concern for her brother King Edward, she’s come unannounced to London to discover why he’s disappeared from the public eye. Robert Dudley’s father, Northumberland, holds sway over the realm and plots to further his iron grip. And Robert, though already wed, burns to achieve what he believes is his right: the heart of a princess. It is a quest that will pit Elizabeth against a tenacious foe and give smoldering birth to a catastrophic love affair that will define her life and haunt the man who yearns to possess her— proving that Elizabeth and Robert remain as fascinating today as they must have been all those hundreds of years ago.

Thank you so much for spending this time with me. To learn more about me and my books, as well as access special features, please visit me at: http://www.cwgortner.com. Happy reading!


2 Responses to “Elizabeth and Robert: A Dangerous Liaison”

  1. Christine says:

    This is a novel, of course, and I don’t want to criticize it, but generally spoken, I can’t see this relationship as dangerous. On the contrary, I think it was essential for Elizabeth to have her great love, she had little else in her personal life, and she never quite recovered from Leicester’s death. Mysteriously, even her real power (as opposed to Gloriana imaginery) went on the decline after his death.

    Old myths (like old habits) die hard. This one of the ever-traitorous upstart Dudleys was to a great extent made up by 17th century writers; to criticize their own Stewart monarchy they coined Elizabeth the perfect ruler whose only inexplicable mistake had been Robert Dudley (hence Camden’s recourse to the stars). The great historian David Loades has remarked that, but for hair’s breadth the Duke of Norfolk was the son and grandson of a traitor as well in 1558, and of course he died a traitor in 1572, something which would never have happened to Robert Dudley while Elizabeth was around.

    It’s all about family survivorship, it seems, the Cecils and the Howards lived on through the centuries, the Dudleys became extinct after Ambrose and Robert, so they couldn’t promote their historical image as the others did (and do).

  2. Anne Barnhill says:

    THank you for the article–I can’t wait to read your books! I do think this was a dangerous relationship, mainly because it called on Elizabeth to use a great deal of self-control and wisdom. She knew she couldn’t marry her Robin but she didn’t want to live without him either. I think she did the best she could, given her circumstances. Anyway, thanks! Good luck with the books.

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