Banquet Massacres

On 7 October 1551, Sir Thomas Palmer came to visit the Earl of Warwick in his garden to deliver “a very fair” gold chain, a chain of office which went with the rank of duke. For only four days later John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, was to become the Duke of Northumberland. “Wherupon,” Palmer, “in my lord’s gardein he declared a conspiracye.” Part of this conspiracy was “a devise … to call th’erl of Warwike to a banket, with the marq[uess] of Northampton and divers other, and to cutte of there heades.”


The Historie of Italie by William Thomas was dedicated to John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, in 1549

This is how the 14-year-old King Edward VI described it in his journal. The banquet massacre was to take place in Lord Paget’s house. Although the Duke of Somerset (the king’s uncle and former Protector of England) did engage in quite a bit of plotting against his de facto successor in government, John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, there can be no doubt that either Palmer or possibly even Warwick himself invented the supposed banquet massacre. Certainly, before any banquet took place, Somerset was arrested and placed in the Tower of London, and beheaded a few months later.

There had occurred real banquet massacres in Italy, however. The author and literary critic John Addington Symonds wrote in his book Renaissance in Italy: “In 1446 the Canetoli, powerful nobles, who hated the popular dynasty, invited Annibale and all his clan to a christening feast, where they exterminated every member of the reigning house. Not one Bentivoglio was left alive.”

Symonds has more: “It is worthy of notice that very many tyrannicides took place in Church—for example, the murders of Francesco Vico dei Prefetti, of the Varani, the Chiavelli, Giuliano de’ Medici, and Galeazzo Maria Sforza. The choice of public service, as the best occasion for the commission of these crimes, points to the guarded watchfulness maintained by tyrants in their palaces and on the streets. Banquets and festivities offered another kind of opportunity; and it was on such occasions that domestic tragedies, like Oliverotto [da Fermo]’s murder of his uncle and Grifonetto Baglioni’s treason, were accomplished.”

John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, in 1549 had been the dedicatee of William Thomas’ The Historie of Italie. While this book was a rather dry account, Thomas had travelled in Italy himself, staying there for five years, and it is likely that he would have used earlier accounts by Italian historians (such as the chronicles of Giovanni and Matteo Villani, as well as Bernardino Corio) for his own work. (William Thomas also wrote a book on Henry VIII after the king’s death in which he praised all his acts.) It is possible that John Dudley’s circle, to which belonged not just Thomas Palmer, a soldier with an axe to grind with Somerset, but also William Thomas, was well versed in the history of Italy’s courts and tyrannies. At least they would have formed a clichéd opinion of what was typically Italian, like the use of poison, and banquet massacres.

Then there was the Black Dinner of 1440 at Edinburgh Castle: The young Earl of Douglas and his even younger brother (a child) were invited to the court of James II (who was 10) and beheaded after dinner. Perhaps this story was well-known in England, too. Sir Thomas Palmer had served in Somerset’s Scottish wars (where he incidentally made friendship with Master John, an Italian expert on fortifications).

Robert Dudley, in later life, was also very fond of everything Italian; he spoke Italian fluently, and he had close contacts to both members of the London Italian community and visiting Italian adventurers and artists.

Literary Remains of King Edward the Sixth (1857)
Christine Hartweg, John Dudley: The Life of Lady Jane Grey’s Father-in-Law (2016)
John Addington Symonds, Renaissance in Italy: The Age of the Despots (1888)
William Thomas, The History of Italy (1549) (1963)

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Mary Stuart’s M Necklaces

Mary Stuart with M necklace, by Nicholas Hilliard, 1570s

In 1578 a state portrait was made (by Nicholas Hilliard or his workshop) of Mary Queen of Scots holding a rosary and wearing a chain with a crucifix on her breast. An inscription tells us that the portrait was painted to mark the exiled queen’s 10 years of imprisonment by her cousin, Queen Elizabeth of England. Several versions and copies of this painting are in existence, and there are also a few miniatures, one of which may have served as the original from which the original of the larger versions was painted.

Mary Stuart with another M necklace, detail from a full-length portrait by Nicholas Hilliard, 1578

In the miniatures Mary is wearing a necklace with a centrally suspended M. In some of the larger full-length portraits she is wearing a similar necklace, only that this one is made of slightly smaller suspended Ms alternating with another type of pendant.

Mary Queen of Scots after ten years of captivity, in 1578, by Nicholas Hilliard

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Mary Stuart’s Open Ruff

Mary Stuart by Nicholas Hilliard, 1570s

When Mary Queen of Scots was in English captivity she was allowed the lifestyle of a queen in exile, for example she kept a small household with servants and ladies-in-waiting and regularly took seat below a royal canopy. She also had herself painted by Nicholas Hilliard at least once, in 1578. There survive several versions of this portrait. Such pictures were acquired by noble and gentry households for portrait collections of famous people; also, Mary Stuart, for as long as she lived, was de facto Queen Elizabeth I’s heir presumtive and some of Elizabeth’s subjects would have liked to demonstrate their loyalty to the possible future Queen of England.

Mary Stuart in 1578

Nicholas Hilliard would have painted Mary from life and he and his workshop would then have produced other versions on commission. Mary herself would have ordered miniature portraits of her to distribute among adherents and friends.

One of Hilliard’s miniatures shows her wearing a necklace with the letter M, as well as a crucifix pendant on her breast, underlining her adherence to the Catholic faith. There is a full length version where she is wearing a similar crucifix and with a Latin inscription saying that it was done when she had been a prisoner for ten years (which would have been in 1578).

Mary Stuart in another version of the Hilliard portrait type, 1570s

Another very similar version has a big, square jewel of dark red colour instead of the crucifix pendant. All these portraits of c.1578 by the Hilliard workshop stand out by Mary wearing her ruff or collar open, instead of closed or tied up. I don’t remember to have seen this in any other Elizabethan portrait. It almost looks like Mary is wearing two different types of ruffs at the same time.

Mary Stuart with her son, King James VI of Scotland, 1583. This double portrait would have served propaganda purposes and was again inspired by the Hilliard 1578 portrait type.

The Hilliard version of the portrait (the one with the jewel) was also used for a double portrait of Mary and her son James, King of Scots, in 1583. (James had been crowned king as a baby in 1567 after Mary had been forced to abdicate.) This would have been made for propaganda purposes.

A copy of the effigy of Mary Queen of Scots, Westminster Abbey, in the National Museum of Scotland. Even in death, Mary is wearing an open ruff. Photo by Kim Traynor CC BY-SA 3.0

It is fascinating that Mary even in death was shown with an open ruff. Her effigy in Westminster Abbey shows us better than the paintings how a collar that was left open actually looked like. It is interesting to compare the effigy of Frances Grey, Duchess of Suffolk, also in Westminster Abbey, with Mary Stuart’s. Frances’ collar is closed in the middle.

Effigy of Frances Grey, Duchess of Suffolk, Westminster Abbey. Frances’ ruff is tied up.

See also:

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Smelling Wives?

Landgraf Philipp von Hessen, c.1534, a few years before he decided his wife didn’t please him

Landgraf Philipp von Hessen (Landgrave Philip of Hesse in English usage) was one of the most important political leaders of the German Reformation and a great supporter of Martin Luther. He was also Germany’s most famous bigamist. In 1524, at the age of 19, he married Christina von Sachsen (Saxony), who was 18. Sixteen years later, Philipp married his wife’s lady-in-waiting, Margarethe von der Saale (who was 17). The problem was that he never divorced his first wife, who would live for another nine years.

Philipp never sought a divorce; he did not want to live in sin with his mistress, so he had to marry her, yet he thought bigamy was preferable to divorce and less sinful. Martin Luther and his colleague Melanchthon did not dare to object. Luther even agreed with the landgrave’s argument and the noted theologian and professor of Greek Melanchthon attended the wedding. However, Philipp’s fellow princes disapproved publicly. Bigamy was punishable by death according to Imperial law, and it goes without saying that it went also against the ordinary moral code of the Church, whether reformed or otherwise.

Philipp had to explain what exactly drove him to take another wife. He had produced seven children with his first wife, of whom six were still alive, and even after his second and bigamous marriage, he would continue to have three more children with his old wife. In parallel, he would have nine children with his new wife. (The offspring from his second marriage, while legitimate, would arguably have no succession rights in Philipp’s lands, though, and Margarethe was never seen at court.)

Philipp von Hessen and his supposedly unattractive first wife, Christina. Posthumous portrait commissioned in 1585 by Philipp’s heirs, after contemporary originals.

To another reformer, Martin Bucer, Philipp explained why he had never liked his old wife: When he married her he was still under 17, he claimed, which was before he became a real man, and he had never desired or loved her (“wie ich sie genomen, da ich noch kein Natur hat, auch keine VII. jarr aldt war; nota, das ich nihe liebe oder brunstlichkeit zu irr gehabt”).

Anne of Cleves, fourth wife of Henry VIII. Henry divorced her on the grounds that he found her unattractive.

In another document, also from 1539 (the year he was planning his bigamous marriage) he wrote the same, namely that from the start he had never desired her; however, he now added that he also disliked her complexion, her moods, and her smell, as well as her periodic overindulgence in drink – (“das ich von anbeginn, do ich sie gnomen, nie lust oder begirte zu ir gehapt, wie sie auch von Complexion, fruntlichkeit und geruch, auch wi si sich unter Zeiten mit uberigem drincken hiltet”). Philipp then crossed out the part about her smell and her drinking, and instead added in the margin that she was suffering from the stone – “und sonderlich das sie den Stein hardt hatt”. (This might refer to kidney or bladder stones, even to intestinal or stomach ailments).

Now, as is well known, Henry VIII only months later, in early 1540, claimed that his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, was smelling. He also told his chief minister Cromwell that he found Anne so unattractive that he could not fulfil his marital duties with her. Henry was in similar circumstances to Philipp, except that he desperately wanted a divorce. Did he know about the contents of Philipp’s excuses to take another wife? Philipp von Hessen was one of the leaders of the Schmalkaldic League, the military alliance of Protestant princes of the Holy Roman Empire, and Henry VIII had close diplomatic contacts with this group. Perhaps some details and some gossip about Philipp’s marriage affairs had reached him.

Rockwell, Willam Walker (1904): Die Doppelehe des Landgrafen Philipp von Hessen. N. G. Elwert’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung.

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Did Henry FitzRoy and Edward VI Die of the Same Illness? Guest article by Sylvia Barbara Soberton

Today, I am very happy to host Sylvia Barbara Soberton on her blog tour for her new book, Medical Downfall of the Tudors: Sex, Reproduction & Succession, which I had the pleasure to read beforehand. Sylvia also wrote several books featuring women of the Renaissance, among them Jane Dudley, Duchess of Northumberland, Robert Dudley’s mother. Over to Sylvia:

Edward VI died on 6 July 1553, just three months shy of his sixteenth birthday. The verdict of his physicians was that the young King died of consumption, as tuberculosis was then known. However, Edward’s symptoms puzzled his doctors, and rumours soon spread that the King was murdered.

We know of Edward’s symptoms through the reports of the Imperial ambassador Jehan Sheyfe, who recorded them on a daily basis from April to July 1553. According to the ambassador, Edward experienced a wide range of symptoms, some of which (swelling of the limbs, failing pulse and discoloration of the skin) weren’t typical signs of tuberculosis, and so rumours spread that Edward was “gradually carried off by some slow poison administered long before [his death]”.1 John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, employed a wise woman to help cure the King, and when she failed to do so, he was accused of attempting to poison the dying Edward.

At the end of his short life, Edward was a sorry sight. Bedridden and weak, he was bald, covered with ulcers, his feet were swollen, his skin discoloured with bluish-purple tint, his weak body shaking from violent fits of coughing.

Interestingly, over the course of Edward’s illness it was said that the same disease had carried Henry FitzRoy to his early grave in 1536. FitzRoy, Edward’s half brother, was said to have had “rapid consumption” in July 1536.2 No other symptoms were reported, but after FitzRoy’s death rumours spread that he had been poisoned by Anne Boleyn and her brother because “he pined inwardly in his body long before he died”.3 Henry VIII ordered FitzRoy’s secret and subdued funeral, which strengthens the notion that he died of a quick and possibly infectious disease that disfigured his body. Edward’s burial on 8 August 1553 was also not grand, with the Imperial ambassadors attesting that they saw “the body of the late King carried to his grave with small ceremony”.4

Is it possible that the same disease killed Henry FitzRoy and Edward VI? They both died rapidly, their symptoms developing with astonishing speed. They were both believed to have died of tuberculosis, but the quick wasting of their young bodies led many to assume foul play was involved in both cases. While it is impossible to say what exactly killed FitzRoy, medical experts believe that the key to understanding the cause of Edward VI’s death is to read carefully through his journal entries. In April 1552, Edward contracted measles and then smallpox but “perfectly recovered” from both.5 Although Edward recovered well, it’s been suggested that measles suppressed his immunity to tuberculosis. Modern research proves that symptoms such as failing pulse and swelling are indicative of tuberculous pericarditis, another possible cause of Edward’s death. In 2001, Doctors Grace Holmes, Frederick Holmes and Julia McMorrough suggested that Edward died of “rapidly progressive tuberculosis that developed after he had measles”.6 It is a plausible theory, and it is likely that FitzRoy died of the same disease in 1536.

You can purchase Medical Downfall of the Tudors here:
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1 Pietro Martire Vermigli, Historical Narration of Certain Events, p. 71.
2 Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 5 Part 2, n. 71.
3 Wriothesley’s Chronicle, Volume 1, pp. 53-4.
4 Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11, 8 August 1553.
5 Sir John Hayward, The Life and Raigne of King Edward the Sixth, p. 168.
6 Grace Holmes, Frederick Holmes, and Julia McMorrough, “The Death of Young King Edward VI”, New England Journal of Medicine, 345: 1 (2001): 60-62.

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Did Edward VI Tear Apart His Falcon?

Edward VI, c.1551

Edward VI was a “cold-hearted prick” according to the eminent Tudor historian G. R. Elton, and often repeated proof of this fact is a story about the 13-year-old king told by Simon Renard, then the emperor’s ambassador in France. On 21 March 1551 Renard wrote to Charles V:

Incidentally I will add the account of an act which is said to have been committed by the King of England. He is said to have plucked a falcon, which he kept in his private chamber, and torn it into four pieces, saying as he did so to his governors that he likened himself to the falcon, whom every one plucked; but that he would pluck them too, thereafter, and tear them in four parts. I have heard the truth of the story certified by people whose testimony should place it beyond doubt; but nevertheless Ambassador Mason denies it, and accuses President Monluc of having excogitated it entirely himself.1

Stunningly, exactly the same story had been told by diplomats in 1514, 37 years earlier, with the young Archduke Charles, the later Emperor Charles V, as protagonist:

The 14-year-old Charles had been informed that his planned marriage to Henry VIII’s sister, Mary Tudor, was not going to happen, as Henry had just concluded a treaty with France to marry his sister to the French king, Louis XII. Charles replied (according to a Venetian report) “that his councillors had plucked him because he was young, ‘but bear in mind for the future I shall pluck you'”.2 Professor David Loades, in whose work on Mary Tudor I found this episode, adds: “This response was accompanied, apparently, by Charles plucking a young hawk alive, to the consternation of his councillors.” (Loades cites the 1970s work about Mary Tudor by W. C. Richardson).3

Jean de Monluc, who, according to the English ambassador, made up the story of the falcon

Although Renard himself mentions that the story was disputed it has been repeated by serious biographers, some writing as if Simon Renard was at that time the Imperial ambassador in England, which he became only in 1553. In March 1551 he stayed at Blois, with the French court. So any report of his about what was going on in the English court had to be second hand.

John Mason, in his turn, was at that time the English resident ambassador at the French court; President Monluc is probably Jean Monluc, younger brother of Blaise de Montesquiou-Lasseran-Massencôme, Seigneur de Monluc (Blaise was a writer on military matters and later also Marshal of France). Jean de Monluc became Bishop of Bordeaux in July 1551, but he had earlier served as a diplomat and homme politique. He travelled extensively in England and Scotland in his diplomatic capacity, and as recently as 1550 had he visited Scotland.

Interestingly, he had also been French ambassador in Venice from 1545, before his travels to other parts of Italy, Germany and the British Isles. So, in theory he might have picked up the story about Charles the future emperor in Venice. In other words, did this particular story circulate in the Republic?

The likelihood is that neither account is based on fact. It is – especially in the case of Edward VI – second hand diplomatic gossip. That this story occurs in relation to two different sovereigns who were at the time under tutelage because of their minority shows that a popular topos was at work here, rather than any report of fact. It might well rest on some mythological story Renaissance intellectuals loved to use for their narratives.

1 CSP Spain 21 March 1551
2 Loades pp. 72-73
3 Loades p. 226


Elton, G. R.: England under the Tudors. (1991).

Loades, David: Mary Rose: Tudor Princess, Queen of France. The Extraordinary Life of Henry VIII’s Sister. (2012).

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Some Portraits of Robert Dudley’s Siblings

While Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, was the second most painted person of Elizabethan England after the queen (and a corresponding number of portraits of him survive), we do not have very many portraits of his brother, Ambrose, and his sisters, Mary and Katherine (in fact, there seems not to have survived any portrait of Katherine, Countess of Huntingdon).

Mary Dudley, in 1551, married the courtier Henry Sidney, and it is possible that a full-length portrait of her by Hans Eworth was intended to commemorate this marriage. There is also a miniature of Mary Sidney, painted by Lavinia Teerlinc in about 1575.

Robert Dudley’s elder brother Ambrose, who received back the family title of Earl of Warwick in 1561, seems to have shown a certain resemblance to his father, John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland.

Mary Sidney in the early 1550s

Mary Sidney c.1575

Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick


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Robert Dudley in Quarantine

In August 1563, Robert Dudley found himself in quarantine. In theory this meant he had to stay away from court (and in his case, from home) for at least 40 days. The word “quarantine” originated in Venice, from the Italian quaranta for “forty”. The English army the queen had sent to France in October 1562 to help the French Protestants (the Huguenots) against the government of Catherine de Medici returned in late July 1563. The expedition had not been a success; it had ended in failure due to an outbreak of the plague, and they now brought the plague with them. Some 4,000 people died in England, one of the victims being Bishop Álvaro de la Quadra, the Spanish ambassador.

Robert Dudley c.1563

The commander of Elizabeth’s troops was none other than Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick, Robert Dudley’s elder brother. Robert and Ambrose were the only sons of the Duke of Northumberland still alive when Elizabeth came to the throne, and she had been very generous to them from the start. Originally, Robert wanted to lead the English contingent, but Elizabeth would not have that. Apart from the fact that this would have guaranteed failure from the start, the queen was most unwilling to part with her favourite. She was not even prepared to let him visit his estates, and she would certainly not allow him to risk his life in a military adventure.

Queen Elizabeth I in 1562

On 31 July 1563 Ambrose Dudley returned from Le Havre to Portsmouth, very ill from an injury he had suffered on his leg. Elizabeth sent Ambrose a letter for which he thanked her:

My most dear Queen and gracious Mistress. I have received your letter by which I, with the rest of us, have well perceived that great care your Majesty hath of us all, and that in respect of our lives and safeties, you do not regard the loss of this town [Le Havre].1

Ambrose also wrote to Robert, that he was happy “rather to end my life upon the breach than in any sickness. … Farewell my dear and loving brother, a thousand times”.2 Ambrose and Robert had always been close, and on hearing that his brother was in danger of his life, Robert immediately left court and travelled to see him at Mr. White’s house at Southwick, where Ambrose had been transferred.3

Soon, Robert also received a letter from the queen, written in her own hand. She complained that he was unnecessarily exposing himself to danger by visiting his brother. Robert on 7 August replied, at pains to explain why he had left the court so suddenly, without thinking that if he went to see his brother so soon he would also have to observe the quarantine. By 1 September, Ambrose Dudley had been cleared. On this day the Spanish ambassador’s secretary (de Quadra having died) witnessed his formal entry into London. Robert, at Mr. White’s house at Southwick, had to wait a little longer.

Ambrose Dudley in the pose of the military commander, though more than two decades after he was wounded in Le Havre

1 Elizabeth Jenkins, Elizabeth and Leicester, 1961, p. 96
2 Elizabeth Jenkins, Elizabeth and Leicester, 1961, p. 96
3 Derek Wilson, Robert Dudley Earl of Leicester 1533-1588, 1981, p. 137

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Did Robert Dudley Send Money to Princess Elizabeth?

Gregorio Leti was an Italian historian of the 17th century who wrote about many different topics. He wrote widely on the papacy, including a life of Pope Sixtus V, a contemporary of Elizabeth I (Vita di Sisto Quinto). Leti wrote also about the Emperor Charles V and Philip II of Spain, as well as a multi-volume history about Li segreti di stato de i prencipi dell’Europa, and a work on the Bourbon dynasty of France, and especially Louis XIV: Teatro gallico, o vero La monarchia della Real Casa di Borbone in Francia, sotto i regni di Henrico 4. Luigi 13. e Luigi 14. ma più in particolare, della vita, allevamento, progressi, … del regnante rè, detto Luigi il Grande.

Leti is interesting to Tudorphiles, though, through his work, Historia o vero vita di Elisabetta, regina d’Inghilterra, detta per sopranome la comediante politica, in two volumes. Though he describes her as “the political comedian” (in the sense of actress) in the title, the book is very sympathetic to both Elizabeth and her mother, Anne Boleyn. After all, Leti was a Protestant, and he had to leave Italy to avoid persecution. He visited England and the English archives in 1661, during the reign of Charles II, and later wrote also La Vie d’Olivier Cromwel, printed at Amsterdam in 1694. The Elizabeth book also appeared at Amsterdam, in 1693.

Leti did use authentic documents and letters he found in the archives of the English crown, yet he freely invented many more. It is not too difficult to see which letters are authentic and which are Leti’s invention, for he typically uses phrases and describes things which would not have been mentioned by the personages who supposedly wrote the letters.

Still, he often used well-known situations in the lives of his protagonists and embellished them according to the romantic leanings of his readers. Thus, a writer like Agnes Strickland in the mid-19th century was still very inclined to rely on Leti’s supposed letters: Though she realized this was problematic, she believed it was more a matter of Leti’s style and language than the actual contents.

In his biography of Elizabeth, Leti invented quite a lot of letters – a letter she supposedly wrote to her sister, Mary, and a letter she supposedly wrote to her de facto guardian and stepfather, Thomas Seymour. Leti also invented a supposed letter from Robert Dudley to Elizabeth when she was imprisoned as princess:


I cannot recall my own disgrace and that of my family without being filled with grief; but I can assure you that all this is as nought in comparison with the grief which your imprisonment causes me, and all the more as I find myself where I can be of no assistance to you. I have obtained my pardon by the help of King Philip at the peril of my life [Leti was aware that Robert and his surviving brothers had served with Philip in France, and that the youngest brother Henry had lost his life in battle], and my recall to this country on the recommendation of that Prince, with my rehabilitation in honours and dignities; but I would give all these with pleasure if they would exchange my liberty for your confinement.

The Queen, your sister, has received me favourably [here Leti alludes to the fact that Robert had personally brought the news that Philip was returning to England to the queen], at the end indicating that I must manage myself with prudence in all that has regard to you. …

I have but just escaped losing my life by the sentence of the judges, but I am able to assure you that I would really lose it with pleasure if that would serve you or procure your liberty. I am re-established in the possession of all the fortune of my family, but of what good is it all, if it is not permitted to me to use it in aiding you in the matter of money, of which I learn you are in need? I assure you, my dear Princess, that all I have is yours, money, life, service, and that I would consider myself the happiest man in the world if I could pour out my blood in your service. …

The Lady who will take this letter to you has two hundred pounds sterling in hand. I pray you to accept of them if you have need of them, and to see in the meantime what he who only hopes to obey you may do for you and show his zeal for you.1

It remains to be said that Robert Dudley was himself in financial difficulties in the years between his family’s downfall and Elizabeth’s accession to the crown, and it can be ruled out that he would have been able to send her a sum like £200 (which was a huge sum). He would certainly not have sent such an amount of money by “a lady”.

Still, Leti did not invent the basic theme of Robert Dudley helping the princess out with money. There exists a contemporary account, by the Burgundian statesman Hubert Languet, that mentions a similar story. Languet, who was then in the service of the Duke of Saxony, had heard in June 1561 at Antwerp that Elizabeth had replied to criticism of her intimacy with Robert Dudley that she did not intend to marry him, but that

she was more attached to him than to any of the others because when she was deserted by everybody in the reign of her sister not only did he never lessen in any degree his kindness and humble attention to her, but he even sold his possessions that he might assist her with money, and therefore she thought it just that she should make some return for his good faith and constancy.2

It is not very likely, however, that Gregorio Leti received the information about a gift of money from Robert Dudley to Elizabeth via Languet’s 1561 letter; this letter was only printed in 1699 and was not kept in an English archive. It seems therefore probable that Leti heard the story in England.

1 Frederick Chamberlin, Elizabeth and Leycester, 1939, pp. 91-92
2 Frederick Chamberlin, Elizabeth and Leycester, 1939, pp. 93-94

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The Portraits of Robert Dudley (5)

Robert Dudley in 1576, by Nicholas Hilliard

Another portrait miniature by Nicholas Hilliard of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, was acquired by the National Portrait Gallery in 1961.

Importantly, this miniature is inscribed with the words ‟Ano.Dni.1576 Aetatis Sue 44“, which clearly indicates that Leicester was 44 years old in 1576, which would establish his year of birth as 1532. (He was born on 24 June, as Leicester himself wrote in a letter to William Cecil; he didn’t mention his age, though).

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