Robert Dudley was born June 24th, 1532 - (If only I had my blog in June, I would have had a blogging-party for him!) His younger years were dramatic, mainly because his father, the Duke of Northumberland, tried (unsucessfully) to place his daughter-in-law, Lady Jane Grey, on the English throne,upon King Edward VI's death. (Read my page about Tudor Monarchs to get a clearer look at that situation). Long story short, his plan back-fired, and Robert's family was sentenced to death. (Guilt by association...) Luckily, Robert's life was spared, thanks to King Philip of Spain, the king consort of England at the time, as he was married to Queen Mary I.
Although Robert's life was spared, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London for a few years, while his father, four brothers, and Jane Grey were tried (some were eventually executed). It was in the Tower that Robert met up with his childhood friend, Princess Elizabeth, also imprisoned by her sister, Mary, because of her supposed involvement in the Wyatt Rebellion. Robert and Elizabeth became fast friends (she was one year younger than him), and they remained this way for the rest of their lives.
Robert rarely visited his wife in the countryside, and in April 1559, Amy Robsart was found dead in her home. The cause of her death is still unknown, but certain theories suggest that Robert or Elizabeth had her murdered (although I don't believe these theories one bit.) Personally, I believe Amy was depressed and miserable, knowing her husband was the Queen's favorite at court, and perhaps knowing he was never going to
In any case, Elizabeth did not end up marrying Robert, although he constantly tried to win her hand, among the many other courtiers and foreign ambassadors doing the same. It is believed, however, that if Elizabeth was going to marry anyone, it would have been Robert, so the fact that she didn't, shows that she must have really not wanted to get married at all.
However, Robert remained at Elizabeth's court, doing anything she needed - taking care of her Royal horses, planning events, visiting with her whenever she called, and seeing to royal duties with members of council. He pined for her, and some say she led him on, with no intentions of actually marrying him, as she led him to believe.
He was made the Earl of Leicester in 1564, following the Queen's short illness of smallpox. During the time she was sick, she named Dudley "Protector of the Realm" and had his pay increased to 20,000 pounds a year. Luckily, she recovered, but his titles and new luxuries remained.
What are your thoughts about Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester? I realize this is quite a wordy blog post, but hopefully you can see my enthusiasm! Feel free to post comments as you wish!