The Tudor Society
  • 4 June – Robert Dudley and Amy Robsart get married

    On this day in Tudor history, 4th June 1550, sweethearts Robert Dudley and Amy Robsart tied the knot at the royal palace of Sheen at Richmond in a service attended by King Edward VI.

    This marriage was a love-match, but it lasted just ten years, ending with Amy’s death in 1560, a death which is surrounded by controversy.

    I share an excerpt from my book “On This Day in Tudor History” in today’s video.

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  • The Dudley Family Quiz

    This week’s Sunday quiz tests your knowledge of one of my very favourite Tudor families, the Dudleys.

    How much do you know about them?

    Find out in this fun quiz!

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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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  • Robert Dudley Resources

    As it is the anniversary of the death of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, on 4th September 1588, I thought it would be good to share links to some Robert Dudley resources we have here on the Tudor Society website.

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  • Douglas Sheffield, Baroness Sheffield (c.1542/3-1608)

    Douglas Sheffield, née Howard, was the oldest daughter of William Howard, 1st Baron Howard of Effingham, Surrey, and his wife, Margaret Gamage. Her date of birth has been a source of debate among historians. However, Simon Adams has argued that the dates of 1542 and 1543 are the most likely due to her being seventeen upon her marriage in 1560. Her older brother was Charles Howard, 2nd Baron of Effingham and 1st Earl of Nottingham. Charles was a successful English statesman and Lord High Admiral under Elizabeth I and James I. Commander of the English forces, he was hugely influential during the Armada period and was renowned for having been a significant figure in the naval defence against Spanish invasion during the 1590s. Douglas was part of a distinguished and notorious noble family that had been instrumental in court politics since the early sixteenth century. While her father held the title of baron, his half-brother was the Duke of Norfolk, William enjoyed a successful career under all four of the Tudor monarchs, and this favour ensured his daughter made a good marriage; Douglas married John Sheffield, 2nd Baron Sheffield. The couple had two surviving children: Edmund Sheffield, later 1st Earl of Mulgrave, and a daughter, Elizabeth, who married Thomas Butler, 10th Earl of Ormonde. The newly married couple were received well by the queen, who provided a wedding gift on 27th October 1560.

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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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  • 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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  • 21 February 1590 – The death of Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick

    Today is the anniversary of the death of Ambrose Dudley, 3rd Earl of Warwick, Master of the Ordnance, Privy Councillor and fourth son of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, at Bedford House on the Strand in 1590. He was laid to rest in the Beauchamp Chapel of the Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick. You can read more about Ambrose in my bio of him – Ambrose Dudley, 3rd Earl of Warwick.

    I have a real fondness for the Dudley family and was very moved when I visited the tombs of Ambrose, his brother Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and Robert’s wife, Lettice, and Robert’s little boy, Robert Dudley, Lord Denbigh, “the noble imp” as his tomb says.

    Here are some photos I took at the church in Warwick. By the way, the crowns are earls’ coronets rather than royal crowns.

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  • Lettice Knollys and Robert Dudley Quiz

    Grab your favourite beverage and snack, get your thinking cap on, make yourself comfortable and test your knowledge of this famous Tudor couple with our Sunday quiz. Good luck!

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  • Robert Dudley: His Last Letter

    On this day in history, 28th August 1588, an ill Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, wrote what would be his final letter to his queen and life-long friend, Elizabeth I.

    I want to take this opportunity to share the Claire Chats video talk that I did on this subject back in September 2016. I hope you enjoy the talk.

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  • Elizabeth I, Robert Dudley and Kenilworth Castle

    This day in history, 9th July 1575, was the first day of a 19-day-long stay for Elizabeth I at Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire, home of her great friend, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester.

    This visit was significant as it was the longest stay at a courtier’s house in any of Elizabeth’s royal progresses, and Leicester went to extraordinary lengths to impress his friend and queen, probably as a last-ditch attempt to woo her and win her hand in marriage.

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  • Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester

    It used to be thought that Robert Dudley, fifth son of the thirteen children of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, and Jane Guildford, daughter of Sir Edward Guildford, was born on the same day as Queen Elizabeth I, i.e. 7th September 1533, but it is now believed that he was born on 24th June 1532 or 1533, with 1532 being the most likely.1

    Robert received a humanist education and his tutors included the likes of John Dee, Thomas Wilson, Roger Ascham, and Robert’s uncle, Sir Francis Jobson, and he was brought up as a Protestant. He could write and speak Italian fluently, had knowledge of French and Latin, and had a keen interest in navigation, engineering and mathematics. He married Amy Robsart, his sweetheart, on the 4th June 1550 in the presence of King Edward VI.

    In July 1553, on the death of Edward VI, Lady Jane Grey, wife of Robert’s brother, Guildford Dudley, became queen but her reign lasted just thirteen days because Mary I seized the throne. Guildford, Jane and Robert’s father, John Dudley, were later executed. Robert was imprisoned and condemned to death but was released in autumn 1554. He served the queen fighting in the Battle of St Quentin in August 1557.

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  • Lettice Knollys

    Lettice Knollys was born on 8 November 1543 at Rotherfield Greys in Oxfordshire. She was the eldest of sixteen children born to Sir Francis Knollys and his wife, Katherine Carey. Lettice’s mother was the daughter of Mary Boleyn, meaning that Lettice was the great niece of Anne Boleyn. She was also a kinswoman of Elizabeth I. Francis and Katherine Knollys departed for the Continent in the mid-1550s to escape the religious persecution during Mary I’s reign, but it is possible that Lettice remained with Elizabeth Tudor at Hatfield. When Elizabeth came to the throne in 1558, Francis was appointed vice-chamberlain and Katherine, who was close to the queen, was appointed a lady of the bedchamber. Lettice, now in her teens, served as a gentlewoman of the privy chamber.

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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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  • 8 August 1588 – Elizabeth I visits Tilbury

    Even though the remaining ships of the Spanish Armada were homeward bound following the defeat of the fleet at the Battle of Gravelines and their subsequent scattering by strong winds, England was still expecting to be threatened by the troops of the Duke of Parma who could come across the English Channel as soon as the wind was favourable.

    On 8th August 1588, Queen Elizabeth I decided to accept Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester’s invitation and visit the troops he had gathered near Tilbury Fort. Leicester had written a letter of invitation to the Queen on the 27th July in an attempt to stop her recklessly riding to the south coast to meet Parma’s troops. He wrote of how she could visit Tilbury and bring comfort to the troops. Against the advice of her Council, who wanted her to remain in the safety of London, Elizabeth travelled from St James’s Palace to Tilbury by state barge on the 8th August.

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  • 27 July 1588 – Leicester invites Elizabeth I to Tilbury

    On this day in history, the 27th July 1588, Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester and the Lieutenant and Captain General of the Queen’s Armies and Companies, invited Elizabeth I to visit Tilbury, where he was busy assembling troops. If you read my post from yesterday, you will know that 4,000 men had been assembled at Tilbury Fort on 26th July 1588 to guard the eastern approach to London from the expected invasion by the Spanish Armada.

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  • Expert Talk – Robin Maxwell and Christopher Gortner on Elizabeth and Dudley

    This month’s expert speakers (two!) are Robin Maxwell and Christopher Gortner, who I interviewed about relationship between Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley. These two amazing historians and authors have quite different views about this fascinating relationship, and their knowledge is really worth sharing.

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  • 3 October 2015 – Elizabeth Goldring talk on Robert Dudley in Warwick

    >On 3rd October at 4pm at the Friends’ Meeting House, Warwick, Elizabeth Goldring, author of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and the World of Elizabethan Art: Painting and Patronage at the Court of Elizabeth I (which has recently been long-listed for the William M. B. Berger Prize for British Art History) will be talking about about Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and the World of Elizabethan Art as part of the Autumn Warwick Words Festival.

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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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  • Robert Dudley – His Last Letter video

    In today’s Claire Chats, on the anniversary of Robert Dudley’s death on 4th September 1588, I talk about his death, the very last letter he wrote to Elizabeth I and her reaction to news of his death.

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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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  • Transcript of Elizabeth Goldring’s talk

    Here’s the transcript from our live-chat session with Elizabeth Goldring. Well done to Ceri for winning a copy of Elizabeth’s beautiful Robert Dudley book.

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  • July 1575 – Elizabeth I visits Kenilworth Castle

    From the 9th to the 27th July 1575 Elizabeth I stayed at Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire, home of her great friend Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. She had visited Kenilworth three times before but this was a special visit in that it lasted nineteen days and was the longest stay at a courtier’s house in any of her royal progresses.

    We know a substantial amount about Elizabeth’s visit to Kenilworth because it was recorded in a letter by Robert Langham, a member of Dudley’s household, and in an account by poet and actor George Gascoigne, a man hired by Robert Dudley to provide entertainment during the royal visit.

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  • Expert Talk – Dr Elizabeth Goldring: Robert Dudley and the world of Elizabethan art

    In this month’s expert talk, Dr. Elizabeth Goldring from Warwick University talks about the art collection of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester.

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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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  • June 2015 Tudor Life Magazine

    Here’s the latest magazine with all our regular items and contributors plus lots of fascinating articles about people and places from the Tudor period.

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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 www.warwickbooks.net/events/meet-the-author-with-warwick-books-elizabeth-goldring/.

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