Thursday, January 15, 2009

Question from Sara - Amy Robsart Dudley's death

So for an A level assighnment, i've decided to look at the death of Amy Dudley/Robsart and who would have the motivation to murder her.

The options being: Elizebeth, Cecil, or Robert

I've got good basic knowledge. But i'm struggling to find quotes from historians stating there views. Just odd words that i can use to infer their beliefs on the topic.

Please help? I've been looking for 2 months, and haven't found anything.


  1. Hi Sara,

    I am surprised that after 2 months you haven't found anything, although this may be because you are being too specific in your searches? I suspect you will find stray bits and bobs in books and essays about Robert Dudley of which there are several.

    I took a quick look in the Royal Historical Society Bibliographic database. It's on the web, free and can be a great starting point.

    One recent book came up that contains an essay you might want to look at. It's specifically about Amy Robsart Dudley. Bernard, George W. 'Amy Robsart'. In Bernard, George W., Power and politics in Tudor England (Aldershot and Burlington (VT): Ashgate, 2000), 161-74. ISBN 0754602451.

    Perhaps your librarian can get you a copy or you can visit a local uni libray.

    Then I searched for Robert Dudley and got several returns but here are a few that you might be able to find.
    Gristwood, Sarah. 'Affairs of State : the dangers of writing on the famous relationship between Elizabeth I and Leicester'. History Today, 57:4 (2007), 70-71. ISSN 0018-2753.

    Wilson, Derek A. The uncrowned kings of England : the black legend of the Dudleys. London: Constable, 2005. xii, 416 p. ISBN 1841199028.

    Adams, Simon. 'Favourites and factions at the Elizabethan Court'. In Adams, Simon Lester, Leicester and the court : essays on Elizabethan politics (Politics, culture, and society in early modern Britain) (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002), 46-67. ISBN 0719053250.

    Haynes, Alan. The White Bear : Robert Dudley, the Elizabethan Earl of Leicester. 1987.

    Go to the index of each of these books, search for Amy Robsart and then flip to those pages.

    I'm not vouching for the quality of any of these (although I have read most of them) Simon Adams is the leading UK expert on Robert Dudley and therefore anything by him will be VERY well researched but perhaps a bit dense for A levels.

    I am sure you have considered that perhaps she wasn't murdered? Or that if she was, there were several other parties who might have had an interest in hastening Amy's death?

    Good luck with your project.

  2. There is also a medical theory that her breast cancer had spread into her bones. It had eaten away at a cervical vertebra, it gave way and she went down the stairs...But as far as a murder. I'd pick Cecil.

  3. Are you looking for an author to say definitively – “yes she was murdered...this is who I think did it.” ?

    If yes, that is a tough one! You might be having a hard time finding opinions one way or another because there is a significant lack of evidence – The coroners report was lost, we have no written sources into the investigation, no one is even certain that the Blount letters are authentic. (Robert exchanged letters with a man named Thomas Blount concerning Amy’s death)

    But I think you will find tons of opinions from Victorian writers. Leave it to the Victorians to imply plenty from nothing! Haha Just kidding. Check out George Adlard’s - Amye Robsart and the Earl of Leicester. He believes Robert was innocent. You can find his book online.

    Walter Rye – The Murder of Amy Robsart, A brief for the Prosecution. – believes Amy was poisoned. He’s not a Robert fan. He makes a point to list all the people that Robert supposedly poisoned and presents the argument – if Robert could kill these people why not Amy? Sounds flimsy to me but I will let you come to your own conclusions.

    Let us know what side you come out on. Good luck with your paper!

  4. You could also try Sarah Gristwood's book, 'Elizabeth and Leicester'.

    Chris Skidmore has a book on the subject out in May.

    'Death and the Virgin: Elizabeth, Dudley and the Mysterious Fate of Amy Robsart.

  5. (no, I'm not the same Sara who submitted the question!)

    I remember there being quite a few pages dedicated to the death of Amy Dudley in "The Life of Elizabeth I" by Alison Weir, where she gives different theories and says who she thinks had the most motive. Once you get it you can look in the index to find the exact pages. I hope that helps :)

  6. how could it be robert he was at court that day and cecil he was but he wanted to kill her to frame robert!!!

  7. Am I the only person that seems to think she killed herself?
    She was a frail, heartbroken woman who had suffered months and months of people gossiping non-stop about her husband's 'friendship' with the queen. She never saw him, and when she did he left at the next available opportunity. He was forever making promises and breaking them and if reports are to be believed she was dying from a pain in her breast anyway which many now believe to have been breast cancer.
    She put up with so much the poor cow, I don't blame her for not wanting to be around anymore, and what's more she would have known the scandal her death would cause and so by committing suicide, she knew that way, her husband would never be free to marry queen elizabeth. A very clever cookie, but a tragic tale nonetheless.

    As for books on the subject,
    Alison Weir 'Elizabeth the Queen'
    Sarah Gristwood 'Elizabeth and Leicester' and I am currently reading 'The Virgin's Lover' by Philipa Gregory which has a substantial amount on the death of Amy Robsart, but be careful with this one as Gregory does like to put her opinion across quite heavily in fiction dressed up as fact!
    Good luck with your paper, and don't lose faith in Lizzie, whatever she was, she wasn't a murderer! :D xx

  8. I think you have overlooked a character who had as much, if not more, hatred for Robert Dudley than Cecil.
    Cecil had obvious motive, but too much to lose to be directly involved, though complicity is not only possible but probable. Robert was too obsessed with increasing his wealth and prestige to mar his reputation with something so unoriginal and obvious as murdering his wife. The scandal of being the prime suspect, he knew as only Dudleys did, would ruin his chances for becoming king. Elizabeth is complex, but let us face the fact that a person with the power and wealth of a Queen doesn't make people disappear that way. There are more non-scandalous ways of making a person a rumor. Say, perhaps an attainder for treason or heresy? It most definitely was not Elizabeth. After ruling the three most prominent suspects out we must look at who gained from this and how they gained from it. We must also look directly at the player that seemed to not be there.
    I have heard many theories on this and have found one person almost magically avoiding the spotlight when the spotlight was what he sought more than anything all of his life. Thomas Howard.
    Sent to the front lines with the Scottish in the North against the French, out of favor though he was the Queen's uncle, insulted by a "traitor" (and a protestant) having all of the influence over the Queen, wealthy, powerful and cunning, and having the most of the immediate parties to gain.
    I challenge you to look into what the facts don't speak and what they truly imply.
    Good luck in your search.

  9. I'm sorry, but it really bugs me when people say that Phillipa Gregory tries to pass off false information in her books as facts. She never claims her books as facts and clearly states in the books and interviews that it's fiction.


All comments are moderated so your replies may not show up immediately. Please be patient. Thanks!