Did Queen Elizabeth I murder Robert Dudley's wife, Amy Robsart?

Did Queen Elizabeth I murder Robert Dudley's wife, Amy Robsart?


Did Lord Dudley Have His Wife Slain So He Could Marry Queen Elizabeth I?

One of the most enduring mysteries of Tudor history is the death of Amy Robsart, the wife of Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester. Dudley was the favourite and possible lover of Queen Elizabeth I, who never married. Did he have his wife killed so he could wed the queen? Or was her death an accident or a suicide?

Who was Robert Dudley?

Robert Dudley was born in 1532, the son of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, who was executed for trying to put Lady Jane Grey on the throne instead of Mary I in 1553. Robert Dudley was also imprisoned and condemned to death, but he was pardoned and released in 1554. He fought for Mary’s husband, Philip II of Spain, at the Battle of St. Quentin in 1557.

When Elizabeth I became queen in 1558, Dudley was appointed as her Master of Horse, a position that gave him constant access to her. He soon became her favourite and closest companion. They had known each other since childhood and had both suffered during Mary’s reign. They shared a love of dancing, hunting, and music. They also exchanged gifts and letters, often using pet names and symbols.

Dudley was handsome, charming, and ambitious. He hoped to marry Elizabeth and become king consort. He had powerful enemies at court and abroad who feared his influence and spread rumours about his relationship with the queen. Some even accused him of plotting to kill Elizabeth’s rivals or to depose her.

Who was Amy Robsart?

Amy Robsart was born in 1532, the daughter of a wealthy Norfolk gentleman. She married Robert Dudley in 1550, when they were both 18 years old. They had no children. Amy suffered from a chronic illness, possibly breast cancer or a spinal deformity. She lived mostly in the country, away from court and her husband.

Amy was aware of Dudley’s attachment to Elizabeth and his desire to marry her. She was unhappy and lonely, but she remained loyal and faithful to her husband. She wrote to him occasionally, asking for his love and care. She also hoped for a reconciliation and a peaceful end to their marriage.

How did Amy Robsart die?

On 8 September 1560, Amy Robsart was found dead at the bottom of a staircase in her rented house in Cumnor, Oxfordshire. She had a broken neck and two wounds on her head. She was 28 years old.

The circumstances of her death were suspicious. She had dismissed most of her servants that morning, leaving only a few behind. She had also expressed a wish to die soon before her death. There were rumours that she had been poisoned or pushed by Dudley’s agents or by his lover, Elizabeth.

Dudley was devastated by the news and swore his innocence. He asked for a thorough investigation and a public inquest. The coroner’s jury ruled that Amy’s death was an accident, caused by a fall down the stairs. They found no evidence of foul play or suicide.

However, many people did not believe the verdict and suspected Dudley of murder. Elizabeth was also shocked and saddened by Amy’s death. She distanced herself from Dudley for a while and ordered him to mourn his wife properly. She also faced criticism and suspicion from her subjects and foreign powers, who thought she was involved in the crime or had planned to marry Dudley.

Did Lord Dudley have his wife slain so he could marry Queen Elizabeth I?

There is no conclusive proof that Dudley had his wife killed or that he conspired with Elizabeth to do so. The evidence is mostly circumstantial and based on rumours and gossip. Dudley had a motive to get rid of his wife, but he also had much to lose if he was caught or exposed. He knew that killing Amy would ruin his reputation and endanger his relationship with Elizabeth. He also loved his wife in his own way and cared for her welfare.

Amy’s death could have been an accident, as the coroner’s jury concluded. She could have slipped or tripped on the stairs, especially if she was weak or ill. She could have also committed suicide, as some of her words and actions suggested. She could have been depressed or desperate, feeling hopeless about her marriage and her health.

The mystery of Amy Robsart’s death may never be solved. It remains one of the most tragic and intriguing episodes in the lives of Robert Dudley and Elizabeth I, two of the most fascinating figures of Tudor history.
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