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The Tudor Society
  • August 7 – Sir Robert Dudley, son of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and Lady Douglas Sheffield

    Sir Robert Dudley (1574–1649), English explorer and cartographer 1590s; engraving after a portrait by Nicholas Hilliard.

    On this day in Tudor history, 7th August 1574, mariner, cartographer and landowner, Sir Robert Dudley, was born at Sheen House, Richmond.

    Dudley was the illegitimate son of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, by his lover Lady Douglas Sheffield, daughter of William Howard, 1st Baron Howard of Effingham, and widow of John Sheffield, 2nd Baron Sheffield.

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  • July 9 – Elizabeth I stays with Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester

    Portraits of Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley

    On this day in Tudor history, 9th July 1575, Elizabeth I began a stay at Kenilworth Castle, home of her favourite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester.

    Her 19-day-stay was recorded by Robert Langham, a member of Leicester’s household, and by poet and actor George Gascoigne, who was hired by Leicester to provide entertainment.

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  • October 10 – Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, is buried

    On this day in Tudor history, 10th October 1588, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the queen’s favourite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, was buried.

    He was laid to rest in the Beauchamp Chapel of the Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick, according to his instructions.

    Leicester’s funeral was well-attended and his widow, Lettice (née Knollys), a woman known by Elizabeth I as “the she-wolf”, erected a monument to “her best and dearest husband” in the chapel. The chapel is also the resting place of the couple’s young son, Robert, “the noble impe”, Lettice, and Leicester’s brother, Ambrose.

    Find out more about Leicester’s funeral and resting place, and see some photos of his tomb…

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  • August 28 – Robert Dudley writes his last letter to Elizabeth I

    On this day in Tudor history, 28th August 1588, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, wrote to his queen and childhood friend.

    Leicester wrote the letter to Elizabeth I while on his way to Buxton, in Derbyshire, to take the waters for his health. He was very ill.

    The letter is very special because following his death in September 1588, Elizabeth labelled it “His Last Letter” and kept it close by her until her own death in 1603.

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  • June 24 – Happy birthday, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester

    On this day in Tudor history, 24th June 1532, the Feast of St John the Baptist, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester and favourite of Elizabeth I, was born.

    Elizabeth I called Leicester her “eyes” and “sweet Robin” and there was gossip over their relationship, but there was far more to Robert Dudley than his closeness to the queen. Find out all about his life and career…

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  • 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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