The Tudor Society
  • Robert Dudley is made Earl of Leicester – 29 September 1564

    On this day in history, 29th September 1564, Robert Dudley was made Earl of Leicester, an earldom which had been planned earlier in the year to make him more acceptable as a bridegroom to Mary, Queen of Scots. This earldom was an important one, having previously been held by royal princes like John of Gaunt and Henry of Bolingbroke (Henry IV). Although Dudley behaved impeccably at the ceremony, the queen did not. As she put the chain of earldom around Dudley’s neck, she “could not refrain from putting her hand in his neck to kittle him smilingly.” A loving gesture and perhaps one that was meant to reassure Dudley that he was still hers.

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  • The marriage of Robert Dudley and Lettice Devereux

    On the morning of Sunday 21st September 1578, between seven and eight o’clock, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, married Lettice Devereux (née Knollys), widow of Walter Devereux, Earl of Essex, at his house in Wanstead, Essex.

    Leicester’s chaplain, Humphrey Tindall officiated, and the guests at this secret and private ceremony included Sir Francis Knollys, father of the bride; Richard Knollys, the bride’s brother; Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick and brother of Leicester; and Leicester’s friends, the Earl of Pembroke and Lord North.

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  • Robert Dudley’s Last Letter

    On 28th August 1588, an ill Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, wrote his final letter to his queen and childhood friend, Elizabeth I. He wrote it from the home of Lady Norreys at Rycote, where he was staying on his way to Buxton, to take the waters there. It read:

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  • 4 September 1588 – Death of Robert Dudley

    Today is the anniversary of the death of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. He died on 4th September 1588 at his lodge at Cornbury, near Woodstock in Oxfordshire.

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  • 4 June 1550 – The marriage of Robert Dudley and Amy Robsart

    On 4th June 1550 (some sources say the 5th), Robert Dudley married Amy Robsart at the royal palace of Sheen at Richmond, near London. The marriage was attended by the then king, Edward VI.

    Both Amy and Dudley were a few days short of their 18th birthdays when they got married, and the marriage was a love-match, or a “carnal marriage” as William Cecil described it, rather than an arranged union. The couple were sweethearts and very much in love, but it was not to be a happy marriage and events conspired against them.

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  • 17 August 1510 – The Executions of Sir Edmund Dudley and Sir Richard Empson

    On 17th August 1510, the second year of King Henry VIII’s reign, Henry VII’s former chief administrators, Sir Edmund Dudley and Sir Richard Empson, were beheaded on Tower Hill after being found guilty of treason.

    Chronicler Edward Hall records:

    “The kynge beyng thus in hys progresse harde euery daye more and more complayntes of Empson and Dudley, wherfore he sent wryttes to the Shynfes of London, to put them in execucion, and so the xvii. day of August, they were both behedded at the Towre hyl, and their bodies buryed and their heades.”

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  • Gillyflowers for Lord Guildford Dudley

    The Dudley Carving in the Beauchamp Tower

    The Dudley Carving in the Beauchamp Tower

    Today has gone down in history as the anniversary of the execution of Lady Jane Grey, but she wasn't the only one executed that day, her husband, Lord Guildford Dudley, was also executed.

    Guildford was born in around 1535 and was the fourth surviving son of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, and his wife Jane (née Guildford). Guildford's family had negotiated for him to marry Margaret Clifford, daughter of Henry Clifford, 1st Earl of Cumberland, but on 25th May 1553 he married Lady Jane Grey, in a triple marriage ceremony which also saw his sister Katherine marrying Lord Henry Herbert, son of the Earl of Pembroke, and Jane's sister Katherine marrying Lord Henry Hastings. They got married at the Dudley family's London residence, Durham Place.
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  • 8 September 1560 – The Death of Amy Dudley

    On 8th September 1560, Amy Dudley (née Robsart), wife of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, died at her rented home, Cumnor Place in Oxfordshire.

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  • Discover the Tudors Tour Day 6 – Kenilworth Castle and Bosworth

    After another yummy breakfast the Arden Hotel’s veggie cooked breakfast is delicious, by the way – we headed off to spend the morning at Kenilworth Castle.

    Kenilworth Castle dates back to the 12th century, but for us Tudor history lovers it’s the link with Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, that gets us excited. Leicester, who was of course Elizabeth I’s good friend and favourite, and, I believe, the love of her life, was granted the castle in 1563. In 1575, the Queen visited Kenilworth Castle for 19 days, the longest visit she made to any courtier, and Leicester made many changes to the castle in anticipation of her visit, including creating a chase, building a gatehouse and bridge over the mere, building a four-storey block of state apartments, and creating a beautiful privy garden. He also commissioned special entertainments for the queen in a last-ditch attempt to woo her.

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  • September 2018 Tudor Life Taster

    In this month’s Tudor Life magazine we delve into the life of the well-known Dudley family. This family was unlike any other, and they enjoyed favour throughout the Tudor period, with Robert Dudley even possibly being a potential consort to Queen Elizabeth, and John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, leading the government in Edward VI’s reign.

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  • Lucy Worsley’s Fireworks for a Tudor Queen – Wednesday 7th March

    Thank you to Dr Elizabeth Goldring for letting me know about the TV programme Lucy Worsley’s Fireworks for a Tudor Queen which will be broadcast in the UK tomorrow, Wednesday 7th March, at 9pm on BBC4. Elizabeth was involved in the programme and told me that the show attempts to re-create the fireworks display that Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, organised for Queen Elizabeth I at Kenilworth Castle in 1575 – how wonderful!

    Here’s the trailer for the programme:

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  • Amy Robsart – What do we really know about her by Christine Hartweg

    Thank you to Christine Hartweg, author of Amy Robsart: A Life and its End for writing this guest article on Amy Robsart, wife of Robert Dudley, for us today.

    Who was Amy Robsart? And what do we really know about her? And why?

    In 1559, the Imperial ambassador at Elizabeth I’s court wrote that Robert Dudley, Elizabeth’s great favourite, was “married to a beautiful wife” (but of course the ambassador had never seen her). We know for certain, on the other hand, that Amy Robsart was born on 7 June 1532 in Norfolk. Like her future husband, who was almost exactly the same age, she grew up in an “evangelical” (or Protestant) family. It is possible, even likely, that the marriage of Amy and Robert was a love match. They were married on 4 June 1550 in the presence of King Edward VI.

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  • “Gloriana”: Elizabeth I’s final years by Gareth Russell

    As part of Gareth Russell’s book tour for “A History of the English Monarchy: From Boadicea to Elizabeth I”, I’m delighted to welcome Gareth to the Tudor Society today, which is his home from home anyway! I hope you enjoy his article and please see the bottom of this post for details on how to enter the giveaway for a copy of his wonderful book. Over to Gareth…

    Elizabeth I’s decline began in her moment of apotheosis. The defeat of the Spanish Armada coincided with the death of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. In the middle of the victory celebrations, the Queen received the news that her childhood friend-turned-adult-love had passed away and she was heartbroken. It has long been surmised that Elizabeth would have married Leicester had he not already been married and his first wife, Amy Dudley (née Robsart), had not then been found dead in circumstances that looked suspiciously like murder or suicide. However, during a bout of serious illness when she thought she was about to die, Elizabeth made a point of denying that she had ever taken Leicester into her bed, no matter how much she loved him. Despite mountains of speculation then and since, there is in fact no firm evidence at all to suggest that Elizabeth I was not a virgin as she claimed. The risk of pregnancy, the loss of her reputation, death in childbed or yielding her authority to a man made celibacy by far her safest choice. We will never know, of course, what happened every day and night of her life, but it is worth pointing out that it should not be taken as axiomatic, as it too often is, that Elizabeth Tudor lied about her life-long virginity.

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  • Just editing up Elizabeth Goldring’s Expert Talk

    We’re just editing the amazing talk by Dr. Elizabeth Goldring from Warwick University all about the artwork collection of Robert Dudley.

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  • 2018 Jul-Aug-Sep Tudor Life Magazine

    Crown and Parliament - James I: A Life of difficulties - ‘The Wicked Dealings of ... ungodly Creatures’ - Margaret Tudor True or False Quiz - Was James I Gay? - Editor’s Picks for books on James I - Heroic or Villain? James I in Gunpowder - Tudor Science: Studying Stars - Memories from the Anne Boleyn Experience 2018 - Tudor life in action - From the Spicery: On Ales - Tudor Ghost Story Competition - Magnificent Tattershall Castle - The Fascinating History of Lingfield Village - Richard III Visitors Centre - The Serpent and the Comforter: Conversations with a Heretic - The Pilgrimage of Grace - Resounding to the Name of Mary: Tudor Veneration of the Blessèd Virgin Mary - Two Tudor Thomases Quiz - The Piety of Elizabeth of York - Tudor Science: Exploration - William Byrd: Recusant Catholic in a Protestant Court - Anne of Cleves and the Legends of the Rhine - A unique collection of Holbein Prints - From the Spicery: on Mushrooms - he Dudleys and the Royals they Served - Edmund Dudley: Henry VII’s Henchman? - ‘Lady Jane’ The Film - Dudley Kriss Kross Quiz - The One the got away: Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley - The Dudley Tombs at Warwick - The Dudley Carvings in the Tower - Jane Grey, Queen of Bradgate - Amy Robsart - The Farnese Pope - Jousting at Hever Castle - Loving and Mourning Queen Jane - Arundel Castle - Henry VIII: The Tax Man Cometh - Copernicus and Astronomy - From the Spicery on 15th Century Feasting

  • Anne Boleyn Experience 2019 – Day 3

    I started Day 3 of the Anne Boleyn Experience 2019 off well with a Full Hever Breakfast – yum! And then it was time to head off to nearby Penshurst Place, home of Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, before it was seized by the crown after his execution and its keepership granted to Thomas Boleyn. In Edward VI’s reign, it was granted to the Sidney family and has been in that family ever since.

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  • The 400th anniversary of the burial of Nicholas Hilliard, and Hilliard book news!

    On this day in history, 7th January 1619, Nicholas Hilliard, the famous Elizabethan goldsmith and miniaturist, was buried at the parish church of St Martin-in-the-Fields, London. This means that it’s the 400th anniversary of his burial!

    Hilliard is known for his beautiful portrait miniatures of the English court in the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I, and his paintings of Elizabeth I: the “Pelican” portrait and the “Phoenix” portrait.

    Hilliard is a fascinating man and artist, and he is the subject of Dr Elizabeth Goldring’s new book, which is due to be released by Yale University Press on 12th February. Its title is Nicholas Hilliard: Life of an Artist and here is the blurb

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  • December 2018 Tudor Life Taster

    This month in Tudor Life Magazine, we have another of our dynasty features - this time we focus on the Cecils. Of course, no December magazine would be any good without a Christmas section packed with Tudor fun, games and even recipes. It's a fun one that all members can enjoy!

    This magazine has lots of articles for ALL members to enjoy. Why not JOIN TODAY? Articles in this magazine include:

    • The Cecils and Robert Devereux, the 2nd Earl of Essex by Sarah-Beth Watkins
    • All about Elizabethan Spies an interview with Loretta Goldberg
    • The Cecils by Gareth Russell
    • Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, The Great Cecil’s Son-in-Law by Lauren Browne
    • ‘Elizabeth’ - the film by Roland Hui
    • Tudor Life Editor’s Book Picks - Top books on the Cecils
    • William Cecil or Robert Dudley Quiz by Catherine Brooks
    • Member Spotlight: Bill Wolff visits the Franses Gallery
    • Claire's Christmas Recipes by Claire Ridgway
    • Spot the difference in these Henry VIII Portraits
    • Tudor Games by Claire Ridgway
    • Henry VIII vs. Francis I chess game by Tim Ridgway
    • The Witches of Elizabethan and Stuart Essex - Kate Cole is our expert speaker for December
    • Pustules, Pestilence and Pain & The Queen and the Heretic book reviews by Charlie Fenton
    • From the Spicery: Sweet Nothings by Rioghnach O’Geraghty
    • Tudor Entertainments - Part 2 by Toni Mount
    • December’s “On this Day” by Claire Ridgway

    You can become a member and enjoy the magazine along with monthly expert talks, live chats, exclusive videos, resources, articles and more - click here. Tudor Life magazine is available as a monthly digital download and also as a paper quarterly.

    Click on the magazine to open up the taster right now...

  • Discover the Tudors Tour Day 7 – London Charterhouse

    After another delicious breakfast at the Arden Hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon – French toast and I shared it with Francis I and Elizabeth I, as you can see! – we said our goodbyes to Stratford and set off for London. We arrived in London for lunch and then headed to London Charterhouse.

    London Charterhouse has such a fascinating history. The land was used as a burial site for victims of the Black Death in 1348 and then in 1371, the Carthusian monastery was built. You might remember me telling you about that Carthusian Martyrs of Henry VIII’s reign, monks from this very monastery who refused to sign the oath recognising Henry VIII as supreme head of the Church in England and who were brutally executed or starved to death. The monastery was dissolved in the 1530s and it then passed through the hands of Sir Edward North; John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland; North again; Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk; Philip Howard, 13th Earl of Arundel; Elizabeth I; Thomas Howard, Earl of Suffolk, and Thomas Sutton. Elizabeth I visited it on several occasions.

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  • Kenilworth Castle and Elizabeth I’s 1575 visit

    I am very excited about going back to Kenilworth Castle in September on the Discover the Tudors Tour as it’s been nearly 8 years since I was last there, and it’s a place that is dear to me. I studied at Warwick University, just a few miles from the castle, so I have been many times and it never fails to have an effect on me.

    In this talk, I look at the Dudley family’s links to Kenilworth Castle and the preparations for Elizabeth I’s 19-day visit there in 1575. I hope you enjoy it.

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  • Discover the Tudors tour – Last few Early Bird tickets

    I posted about this new luxury Tudor tour last month but Philippa has just let me know that there are still some Early Bird tickets available (saving of £300 per person) so I wanted to let you know.

    I’m really excited about this tour because it doesn’t just focus on the well-known London Tudor attractions, it also takes participants to Windsor, Hatfield, Stratford-upon-Avon, Kenilworth and Bosworth, all with private guided tours. One of my very favourite historians, Leanda de Lisle, has just confirmed that she’ll be speaking to our group too!

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  • The Last Tudor and The Sisters Who Would Be Queen

    “The battle for the throne isn’t over yet” is the tagline of Philippa Gregory’s latest Tudor novel, “The Last Tudor”. Released yesterday, this novel focuses on the Grey sisters: Jane, Katherine and Mary, who, of course, had claims to the throne through their grandmother Mary Tudor, daughter of Henry VII.

    The lives of these three young women were explored in one of my all-time favourite history books, “The Sisters Who Would Be Queen” by Leanda de Lisle. It is a wonderful book. It’s meticulously researched and highly readable, a winning combination, and deserves pride of place on every Tudor history lover’s bookshelf. Philippa Gregory’s novel is actually inspired by Leanda’s research so I’m looking forward to reading this novel. To celebrate the release of Philippa’s novel, Leanda has kindly shared the following excerpt from “The Sisters Who Would Be Queen” with us today:

    “On 10 October 1562, when Elizabeth was at Hampton Court, she had begun to feel unwell, with aches and pains in her head and back. She had decided to have a bath and take a short walk to shake it off. When she returned to her chambers, however, she became feverish. A physician was called. To Elizabeth’s irritation he diagnosed the potentially deadly Small Pox. Since there were as yet no blisters, she refused to accept the diagnosis, but sickness and diarrhoea followed and she became delirious. By 16 October the Queen could no longer speak. On the 17th she was unconscious.

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  • 9 March 1566 – Murder of David Rizzio

    On this day in history, 9th March 1566, David Rizzio (Riccio), the private secretary of Mary, Queen of Scots, was stabbed to death in front of a heavily pregnant Queen Mary.

    But who was David Rizzio and what led to his murder?

    John Guy, historian and author of the excellent “My Heart is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots”, describes David Rizzio as a “young Piedmontese valet and musician, who had arrived in the suite of the ambassador of the Duke of Savoy and stayed on as a bass in Mary’s choir”. Mary obviously took a liking to Rizzio because in late 1564 she chose him to replace her confidential secretary and decipherer, Augustine Raulet, who was a Guise retainer and the only person who Mary had trusted with a key to the box containing her personal papers. Raulet, for some reason, had lost her trust.

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  • 8 February 1587 – Mary, Queen of Scots is executed at Fotheringhay

    On this day in history, Wednesday 8th February, Mary, Queen of Scots was executed at Fotheringhay Castle, following the arrival of her death warrant at the castle the day before.

    Mary had been tried in October 1586 for her involvement in the Babington Plot, a plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I, and had been found guilty. Elizabeth I put off signing her death warrant, struggling with the idea of killing an anointed monarch, but finally signed the warrant on 1st February 1587, although Elizabeth claimed later that she ordered her secretary, William Davison, not to do anything with it for the time being. As I mentioned in my article on the death warrant, Elizabeth’s Privy Council met and agreed to send the warrant to Fotheringhay without the Queen’s knowledge. It is impossible to know exactly what happened. Did Davison misunderstand the Queen’s instructions and intentions? Probably not. Some historians believe that William Cecil, Lord Burghley, chose Davison to be a scapegoat because he realised that Elizabeth needed someone to take the responsibility for Mary’s death away from her, but others believe that it was Elizabeth who chose Davison as the scapegoat.

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  • Lettice Knollys by Adrienne Dillard

    Author Adrienne Dillard, who has done extensive research on Lettice’s family, the Careys and Knollys, has written this excellent bio of Lettice. Thank you so much to Adrienne.

    Per Francis Knollys’ Latin Dictionary entry,* Lettice Knollys was born in 1543 on the Tuesday present after All Hallows’ Day, or November 8, 1543, most likely at the Knollys’ family home at Rotherfield Greys in Oxfordshire. Lettice’s brilliant red hair and pale complexion may have come from her close connections to the royal family. Her mother, Catherine Carey, was Anne Boleyn’s niece and Elizabeth I’s cousin. Some historians have debated whether Catherine was the product of Mary Boleyn’s affair with King Henry VIII, but it has never been proven and rests only on circumstantial evidence. Lettice was the third child and second daughter born out of a possible sixteen, but more likely fourteen, children born to Catherine and Francis.

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  • 10 October 1562 – Elizabeth I catches smallpox

    On 10th October 1562, twenty-nine year-old Queen Elizabeth I was taken ill at Hampton Court Palace, with what was thought to be a bad cold. However, the cold developed into a violent fever, and it became clear that the young queen actually had smallpox. Just seven days later, it was feared that the Queen would die.

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  • Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox

    Lady Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox, was born on 8th October 1515. Margaret was the daughter of Margaret Tudor, Queen Dowager of Scotland and sister of Henry VIII, and Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus. She was born at Harbottle Castle in Northumberland, home of Thomas, 2nd Lord Dacre, because her mother went into labour as she fled Scotland to go to Henry VIII’s court in London. Margaret was baptised on 9th October, but her mother was ill after the birth and wasn’t well enough to travel onward to London until spring 1516. Mother and baby stayed in England until June 1517, when Henry VIII sent his sister and niece back to Scotland.

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  • Mary I’s Coronation Part 2 – Knights of the Bath

    On 29th September 1553, Michaelmas or the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, Mary I created fifteen1 Knights of the Bath as part of her coronation celebrations.

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  • Coming up on the Tudor Society

    Historian Gareth Russell is the editor of our monthly Tudor Life magazine and he’s been working hard on scheduling expert articles and also expert talks for the next few months. We are thrilled to bits that so many historians and authors want to be involved in the Tudor Society by offering their knowledge and expertise to our members – a big thank you to them and to all our members too for your continued support.

    Contributors to Tudor Life magazine in the coming months include:

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  • 13 May 2015 – Elizabeth Goldring talk at Lord Leycester’s Hospital

    Elizabeth GoldringOn 13th May at 7pm, Dr Elizabeth Goldring will be talking about her book Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and the World of Elizabethan Art: Painting and Patronage at the Court of Elizabeth I at Lord Leycester's Hospital in Warwick, UK.

    Tickets can be purchased at Warwick Books, 24 Market Place, Warwick for £3.50 (£2 concessions). You can find out more about the talk at

    Elizabeth has written a wonderful article on Robert Dudley for the June issue of Tudor Life magazine.

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