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Robert and Elizabeth
Elizabeth I’s love life: was she really a ‘Virgin Queen’?
He was a suitor for the Queen's hand for many years. Dudley's youth was overshadowed by the downfall of his family in after his father, the Duke of Northumberland , had failed to prevent the accession of Mary I. Robert Dudley was condemned to death but was released in and took part in the Battle of St. Quentin under Mary's husband and co-ruler, Philip , which led to his full rehabilitation. Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, was one of Elizabeth's leading statesmen, involved in domestic as well as foreign politics alongside William Cecil and Francis Walsingham. Although he refused to be married to Mary, Queen of Scots , Dudley was for a long time relatively sympathetic to her until, from the mids, he strongly advocated for her execution. As patron of the Puritan movement , he supported non-conforming preachers but tried to mediate between them and the bishops of the Church of England.
His arrogance , however, undermined his effectiveness as a political and military leader. She at once made him master of the horse, and in April he became a privy councillor and Knight of the Garter. Though there is no evidence to support this suspicion, Dudley did become an active suitor of the Queen. She rejected him, even proposing that he wed Mary, Queen of Scots. Probably to further this design, Elizabeth made him earl of Leicester and Baron Denbigh in September In Leicester began an affair with the dowager Lady Sheffield. They were almost certainly never married, and he cast her off in , when he secretly wed Lettice Knollys, widow of Walter Devereux, earl of Essex.
Documents on the same theme
For a queen known for her alleged virginity, Elizabeth I's love life has long been the subject of great speculation. Here, Dr Anna Whitelock, a reader in early modern history at Royal Holloway, University of London, explores what really went on behind the closed doors of the so-called Virgin Queen., They were certainly emotionally dependent on each other throughout their lives, but were they ever really lovers?
Dudley was provided with no authority other than his military command over the English forces, and only an informal instruction to advise the Dutch on political matters. But bad weather in the North Sea severely restricted communication with England over the next two months, and as a result he felt abandoned. This may have prompted his fateful decision to accept the appointment as Governor-General of the Netherlands, and he was sworn in on 15 January [O. Elizabeth was incandescent with rage when she heard of this and demanded his immediate recall. But she could never stay angry with her favourite for long, and in July she wrote him this letter, making it clear that he had been entirely forgiven. Despite her protestations, Elizabeth was always reluctant to properly provide for her troops — an issue that sparked widespread criticism in the years to come. Rob: I am affrayd you will suppose by my wandring writings, that a midsomer moone hathe taken large possession of my braynes this moneth, but you must needes take thinges as they com in my head though order be left behind me.