Sunday, February 19, 2006

Question from Silvia - The poisoned dress

What do you know about the incident between Robert Dudley and one of Elizabeth's ladies? Is it true that she was wearing a poisoned dress that was the Queen's and she died?

10 comments:

BritishNut56 said...

Me thinketh you watched the movie "Elizabeth" starring Kate Blanchett as the queen. DO NOT USE THAT MOVIE FOR ANY HISTORICAL INFORMATION ABOUT ELIZABETH I. It is SO incorrect, it makes "Anne of a Thousand Days" look like a documentary.

There was no poisoned dress.

Having said that, Elizabeth's council was always on the look-out, though, for gloves and other small items which had been treated with poison. Guess that was an 'honored' way of assassination. There was never any recorded incident, though, of a poisoned article of clothing making its appearance at the Tudor court.

Anonymous said...

It was kind of funny watching that movie because I believe the woman in the poisoned dress had been referred to earlier as Lettice Knollys...which would be incredibly stupid on the moviemakers part considering Robert Dudley later married her...so obviously she didn't die in a poisoned dress.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't her, he called her 'Isabelle'.

Anonymous said...

But didn't the other ladies tell Lettice not to try on the queen's gowns? I swear that's what I heard in the film.

Anonymous said...

The character in the film who died in the poisoned dress was called Isabelle Knollys; another character (the sexy woman bedding Norfolk) was named Lettice. I believe historically, the real woman Dudley was involved with was named Lettice Knollys. Another inaccuracy in the film.

Dedaz A. said...

Where did you learn that Elizabeth's council were "on the look-out" for poisoned items. Isnt this just a concept from Medea by Euripides?

Anonymous said...

Historical accuracy? LOL I´m Spanish and I can say that the movie is a grotesque set of the worse myths about the Black Legend around Philip II, who is depicted as a circus monster when he was an extremely competent, cult, powerful and at the same time humble King. He is know in the serious historiography as "El Rey Prudente", "The Prudent King". Did you know that England lost the anglo-spanish war of 1585-1604? Read about the Somerset House treaty. What about the Drake-Norris Expedition (English Armada)? It just happened the next year, 15.000 englishmen sent by Elizabeth where killed while trying to invade Spain, but it seems that everybody has forgotten about it. Not me, I am from La Coruña :D The movie is an anacrhronic libel of English ultra-patriotism much in the line of the 50's movies about bad, stupid and ugly Spaniards being defeated by good, smart and good looking britons. Pathetic. No, I have the impression that the poisoned dress is not the main historical falacy in the movie. I´m waiting for the Jenkin's Ear war and the Battle of Cartagena movie. But I have the impression that It wont ever come.

Anonymous said...

Remember the movie is made for entertainment purposes, otherwise it would be named as a documentary which it is clearly not.

Anonymous said...

I'm not even going to dignify the post degarding Philip II with a response...Nationalism is ok in small doses but we must never forget our true history, no matter how painful or embarassing it is.


To Answer the original Question, there was never a poisoned dress.

As for the poisoned gloves, it is known history that Queen Elizabeth received threats frequently and some rumoured threats did involved poisoning of both food and garment so yes, Sir Francis Walsingham and her other council set forth measures to look out for tainted gifts of garment. And it is correct that no such incidences have been reported. Many Authors on the Subject of the Virgin Queen agree with this fact and list in their Bibliographies that they derived a lot of their information on this from documents that have survived and are archived at Cambridge, the Hatfield House, Simancas, Vatican Arhives, Camden Society, Royal Historical Society and that is just to list those I can remember. There are literally hundreds of various libraries, Archives, Societies and Universities throughout England, Italy, France, Spain and Scotland that house such documents.

And yes, eventually Robert Dudley did later marry Lettice Knollys without the consent of the Queen, thus stirring up scandal at Court and resulting in Dudley and Knollys falling out of favour with Queen Elizabeth.

As was said a few times already, the film or more for entertainment that anything else and cannot be used for historical fact. Somethings are factual and other things are loosely inspired by real events.

Going back to the poisoned dress and the girls who died whilst lusting with Dudley, I interpretted it as the directors nod towards the scandal of Lord Robert Dudley and the death of his first wife, Amy Robsart. According to official findings, Amy was staying in one of their estates while Dudley was at Court when she was found dead at the bottom of the stairs. There were no witnesses to the accident and the appearance of the scene itself arose suspicion and the whole of England, knowing that Robert Dudley had desired Elizabeth for so long, had is wife killed so that he would be free to Court Elizabeth. After a few investigations, the results still concluded that it appeared to be an accident.

Anonymous said...

Best answer yet!