Sunday, November 29, 2009

Question from Christine - Dudley's relationship with and proposal to Elizabeth

Would someone please explain in simple detail what happened during the marriage purposal between Elizabeth and Robert Dudley? Why was Spain needed to give approval? and later in her reign what did Robert do to her to loose favor,he loved her why would he become involved in treason and why didn't he get executed? Thank you. I love to study this time period but some things are hard to understand the way it is written.


kb said...

Hi Christine,

It might help if you told us what book you had just read.

Early in Elizabeth's reign, Robert Dudley was already married to Amy Rosbart. So he couldn't marry Elizabeth. When Amy died under mysterious circumstances, Elizabeth sent Robert from court until the inquest concluded that he had not had her murdered.

One BIG thing that Robert did to upset Elizabeth was to secretly marry her cousin Lettice Knollys Devereux, countess of Essex in 1578.

There were several other political issues that came into play but there was never sufficient treasonous behavior on his part to justify his execution. Additionally, I believe Elizabeth was extremely fond of him.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that you have seen the film "Elizabeth" of 1998, starring Joseph Fiennes as Robert Dudley? Then let me tell you that they are wrong in the film that Dudley ever was involved in an actual conspiracy against Elizabeth, accordingly he had not to be executed. That happened later to his stepson Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, who was also a favourite of Elizabeth, but in another sense and to a lesser degree.

As to Spain, you probably mean Dudley's approaches to the Spanish ambassador in early 1561, some months after the death of his wife. Spain was then the greatest power in Europe, and England was still on very good terms with the Spanish king, Philip II. Robert Dudley repeatedly (and for several decades) said that he owed King Philip his life (he had been imprisoned and sentenced to death after the accession of Queen Mary). Philip wanted to bring England back to Catholicism, and Robert Dudley promised, if Philip would help him to gain the Queen's hand, that he would work for England sending representatives to the Council of Trent, or would even go there himself, if no one else would go. The rift between the Christian denominations was then not yet total; this Council made a last effort to achieve a reconcilement. But Elizabeth's chief minister, William Cecil, was against this kind of deals, as the German Lutheran princes were neither going to the Council. And Cecil was always very much against Elizabeth marrying Dudley. Elizabeth knew of Dudley's Spanish intrigues, but was herself trumped by Cecil (at least according to Prof. Susan Doran).

Marilyn R said...

A few years ago I was taking photographs of the tomb of Robert Dudley and his wife Lettice Knollys and got into conversation with the volunteer guide in the Beauchamp Chapel in St. Mary's, Warwick, where it is located.He was a lovely elderly gentleman who had recently seen the film "Elizabeth" and insisted that after the marriage with Lettice (Mary Boleyn's granddaughter) the outraged Queen Elizabeth never allowed Robert into her presence again.

Try as I might gently to persuade him that this could not be so as Robert was an advisor, was by Elizabeth's side at Tilbury some time later, that she sent him medicines when he was on his deathbed and kept his last letter close at hand until her own death, he would not be persuaded - because it had said otherwise in that wretched film!

I always feel sorry for Dudley: with the executions of some his brothers over the Jane Grey business and his brother Ambrose being childless, it was up to him to provide his dynasty's heir. In that respect he was in the same difficult position as Henry VIII and if Elizabeth would not marry him what was he supposed to do?

His and Lettice's only son died at the age of about seven and is buried near his parents, while his son with Lady Douglas Sheffield, who claimed he had married her but she had no written proof, was much-loved by his father and would probably have been allowed to inherit had he not been cleverly sidelined by another branch of the family after Dudley's death.

kb said...

Ahhh....the infamous movie problem.