|Name||Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester|
|Date of Birth||Alison Weir gives Dudley a birth date of 24th June 1533.|
|Who Were They||obert Dudley was the son of John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland, who was executed for treason after his attempt to put Lady Jane Grey on the throne and deny Mary I the throne.
Robert Dudley was imprisoned along with his father and brothers in the Tower of London and his imprisonment coincided with Princess Elizabeth’s.
|How were they linked to Elizabeth I||Favourite and suitor.Robert Dudley was Elizabeth’s friend and close confidante from before she was crowned Queen. On her accession he was made “Master of the Horse” and later became a privy councillor, Knight of the Garter and Lord Steward of the Royal Household.
He was her favourite for many years and it was rumoured that he was her lover. He was her constant companion and they even had adjoining suites at times. He was seen as a kind of unofficial consort to the Queen.
There was scandal over the death of Dudley’s wife, Amy Robsart, who fell down stairs – people talked of murder but there was no evidence of this.
Dudley did not remarry for many years, leaving himself available for the Queen.
Elizabeth called him “Bonny Sweet Robin” and her “eyes”.
|What happened to them?||Dudley was banished from court when he secretly married Lettice Knollys in 1578 and never regained the Queen’s favour.|
|Death||He died on 4th September 1588. Elizabeth I was devastated by his death and locked herself away for days, only coming out when her door was broken down by Lord Burghley. She kept the farewell letter he wrote her in a special treasure box which she kept at the side of her bed and it was found still in the box when Elizabeth died in 1603.
The official cause of Dudley’s death was malaria but some historians now wonder if he had stomach cancer or a heart condition. He was 50 when he died.
|Quotes||The Spanish ambassador reported: “Lord Robert has come so much into favour that he does whatever he likes with affairs and it is even said that her majesty visits him in his chamber day and night. People talk of this so freely that they go so far as to say that his wife has a malady in one of her breasts and the Queen is only waiting for her to die to marry Lord Robert…Matters have reached such a pass…that…it would…be well to approach Lord Robert on your Majesty’s [Philip II’s] behalf…Your Majesty would do well to attract and confirm him in his friendship”
In a letter to Bess of Hardwick, Elizabeth I called Dudley “another ourself”.
|Marriages and Children||1550 Amy Robsart, daughter of a farmer. It was said to be a “lovematch”.
1578 Lettice Knollys, widow of Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex.
Children: 1574 – Illegitimate son Robert Dudley by Lady Douglas Sheffield, 1581 – Son, Robert Dudley, by Lettice Knollys, who only lived until 1584.
|Books||“Elizabeth and Leicester: The Truth about the Virgin Queen and the Man She Loved” by Sarah Gristwood|