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The Tudor Society

10 October – The funeral of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, Elizabeth I’s favourite

On this day in Tudor history, 10th October 1588, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, was buried in the Beauchamp Chapel of the Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick, according to his instructions.

His funeral was well-attended and his widow, Lettice, a woman known by Elizabeth I as "the she-wolf", erected a monument to "her best and dearest husband" in the chapel, which was also the resting place of the couple's young son, Robert, "the noble impe".

Find out more about Leicester's funeral and resting place, and see some photos of his tomb, in today's talk.

Also on this day in Tudor history, 10th October 1562, twenty-nine-year-old Queen Elizabeth I was taken ill at Hampton Court Palace. It was thought that it was just a bad cold, but it turned out that the queen had smallpox. Elizabeth became seriously ill and it was thought that she would die, causing panic over the succession, but Elizabeth recovered and reigned until 1603. She was nursed by her good friend, Mary Sidney, who also came down with smallpox and was badly disfigured by it. Find out more in last year’s video:

Also on this day in history:

  • 1505 (10th or 11th) – Death of William Barons (Barnes), Bishop of London and former Master of the Rolls. He was buried at St Paul's Cathedral.
  • 1530 – Death of Thomas Grey, 2nd Marquis of Dorset, magnate, soldier and courtier. He was buried at Astley Collegiate Church in Warwickshire. Grey's offices included Constable of Warwick Castle and of Kenilworth Castle, and he also acted as Chief Answerer at the marriage of Prince Arthur and Catherine of Aragon. Grey was also the grandfather of Lady Jane Grey.
  • 1549 – Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector, was ordered to leave Windsor Castle and to give himself up. He had moved there with the young Edward VI on the 6th October, from Hampton Court Palace, after learning that his protectorship was in danger.

Transcript:

On this day in Tudor history, 10th October 1588, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, was buried in the Beauchamp Chapel of the Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick, according to his instructions.

Leicester had died on 4th September 1588 at his lodge at Cornbury, near Woodstock in Oxfordshire, while on his way to take the waters at Buxton for his health. He had been suffering from a recurring stomach ailment.

The Beauchamp Chapel was the traditional place of burial for the Earls of Warwick and had been built in the 15th century as the resting place of Richard Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick. The chapel was the resting place of his son, Robert Dudley, Baron Denbigh, the “noble impe”, who died when he was just three years old. Leicester’s brother, Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick, was laid to rest there in 1590. Leicester’s wife, Lettice, was buried with Leicester following her death in 1634, and their tomb is topped with effigies of the couple wearing their earl and countess coronets and praying. The Latin inscription above their tomb translated into English reads:

“Sacred to the God of the living. In certain hope of rising again in Christ, here is placed the most famous Robert Dudley, fifth son of John, Duke of Northumberland, Earl of Warwick, Viscount Lisle, etc., Earl of Leicester, Baron Denbigh; Knight of both the orders of St. George and St. Michael; Master of the Horse of Queen Elizabeth (with whom he was distinguished with exceptional favour); thereafter Steward of the Royal Household; Privy Councillor; High Justiciar of the Forests, Parks, Chases, etc. on this side of Trent: Lieutenant and Captain-general of the English army sent into the Netherlands by the said Queen Elizabeth, from 1585 to 1587; Governor-general and Commander of the United Provinces of the Netherlands; and Lieutenant of the Kingdom of England against the Spaniard Philip II, when he was invading England in 1588 with a numerous fleet and army.
He gave back his soul to God his saviour in the year of salvation 1588, on the fourth day of September. His most sorrowful wife, Lettice, daughter of Francis Knollys, Knight of the Order of St. George and the Queen's Treasurer, placed [this monument] to her best and dearest husband on account of her love and faith as his wife.”

Leicester’s funeral at Warwick on this day in 1588 was well attended, with the mourners being led by his widow, Lettice, his stepson, Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, Leicester’s brother-in-law George Hastings, Earl of Huntingdon, and his nephew Sir Robert Sidney. Other mourners included Robert Rich, husband of Leicester’s stepdaughter, Penelope Devereux, members of the Knollys and Blount families, and Leicester’s chaplains and his secretary. The sermon was preached by John Piers, Bishop of Salisbury.

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10 October – The funeral of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, Elizabeth I’s favourite