The Tudor Society

21 September – Robert Dudley’s secret marriage

On this day in Tudor history, Sunday 21st September 1578, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, married Lettice Dereveux (née Knollys) in a secret marriage at his house. So secret was it that he only told his chaplain and his friends the day before.

Leicester was marrying the woman Elizabeth I had dubbed "the she-wolf", so he knew that his queen would not be happy.

In today's talk, I give details of this secret wedding along with some facts about the bride, Lettice Knollys.

Also on this day in history:

  • 1550 – Death of William Rugg (Repps), Bishop of Norwich. He was buried at the cathedral there. Rugg supported Henry VIII's quest for an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon and his subsequent supremacy, but his conservativism in other areas caused conflict between him, Thomas Cromwell and Thomas Cranmer. Rugg resigned his episcopate in January 1550 in return for pardons for his alleged support of the rebels in Kett's Rebellion.
  • 1557 – Burial of Henry Pendleton, theologian, chaplain and friend of Bishop Bonner, at St Stephen Walbrook, London. Pendleton is known for his changing religious beliefs: he was against Lutheranism in Henry VIII's reign, supported Protestantism in Edward VI's reign and then converted back to Catholicism in Mary I's reign.
  • 1558 - Death of Charles V, former Holy Roman Emperor, from malaria at the monastery of Yuste in the Extremadura region of Spain. He had previously been suffering from debilitating attacks of gout which had necessitated him being carried around in a chair. Charles was buried at the monastery church, but later moved to the Royal Pantheon of El Escorial, the Royal Palace at San Lorenzo de El Escorial near Madrid.
  • 1579 – Burial of Sir Edward Fitton, president of Connacht and Thomond, Vice-Treasurer and Treasurer-at-Wars during Elizabeth I's reign. He was buried beside his wife, Anne, at St Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland.

There are 2 comments Go To Comment

  1. R

    Elizabeth called Lettice a she wolf, but I think she was the real she wolf and a jealous one at that.

    The tomb of the Little Imp has a very sad and moving epitaph on it and is quite a lovely tomb but the joint tall monument and tomb to his parents is something else to behold. Ambrose is also there in the Beauchamp Chapel which was built to honour the fifteenth century father in law of the Kingmaker, Richard Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick.

    Trust Robert Dudley to get himself into trouble again. He couldn’t win really, could he? He can’t marry the Queen because of the scandal surrounding the death of his first wife, Amy, he can’t marry anyone else because he is on demand for the Queen and his wife needed royal consent because of her own royal status and then the Queen falls for his stepson. Who would want to serve a King or Queen, even if the benefits were good: it was just too dangerous.

  2. M

    I just find this fascinating! Ok, Lettice’s mother and father are favorites of the queen. Lettice’s son becomes a favorite of the queen, but she hated Lettice? And before she married Robert Dudley. Why? And why did she single out Lettice’s son, not even Robert Dudley’s son, but a son from her first marriage? Very complicated, if you ask me…

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21 September – Robert Dudley’s secret marriage