Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester is famously known as the favourite of Elizabeth I. His reputation in history is that of an ambitious womaniser and though he hardly had a slew of lovers, what relationships he did have were certainly dramatic This was mostly because they were conducted in the court of a Queen who considered him off limits to anyone save herself. This wasn’t a completely ridiculous notion, seeing as, for much of their lives together, Leicester was openly courting Elizabeth and was considered a legitimate suitor for her hand. So if one were to think of a love triangle surrounding Leicester, the first thought would probably be of one involving Elizabeth and his first wife, Amy Robsart.
While Elizabeth I’s reputation as the Virgin Queen has been in question since her own lifetime, the ladies around her certainly didn’t aspire to the virginal state, despite their mistresses repeated lectures on the matter. It’s not known exactly why Elizabeth shied away from taking a husband, though theories range from witnessing her father’s violently unsuccessful marriages, a fear of pregnancy, or for the political implications of raising a man above her to the throne. Whether personal or political, Elizabeth’s negative opinion of marriage did not just apply to her own and she was notoriously unimpressed by romantic dalliances among her ladies, unless it was she who had orchestrated them. Elizabeth demanded absolute loyalty, requiring her ladies to devote their time solely to their duties in her service, at the expense of family life. Ladies who left court to have children were expected to return as soon as they were physically able to, leaving the child with a wet nurse far from court. The Queen’s reactions to court romances were sometimes so extreme that many of those around here conducted their affairs, and subsequent weddings, in secret, only to suffer Elizabeth’s increased displeasure when the marriage was discovered. Towards the end of her reign her attendants were so concerned with marrying in secret that the Spanish ambassador remarked the Queen discovered a new match each week. Here are some of the more unfortunate women who incurred Elizabeth’s wrath through their choice of husbands, though I’ve left out the most obvious; Lettice Knollys who married Robert Dudley, solely because the relationship between Lettice, Dudley and Lady Douglas Sheffield is worthy of a piece all of its own. Continue reading
21 months ago I posted this as we waited for the announcement of the royal baby’s name. They beat me to it this year though, and last week we heard that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have named their daughter Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. Recent changes to the law assure that Charlotte’s place in the succession will not be affected by any future brothers that she has. Instead she can only be bumped down, as she would if she were a boy, by any future heirs that George produces. As fourth in line to the throne she isn’t expected to become queen, but stranger things have happened! Join me on a rundown of the ‘spares’ that took the throne, (and not all of them because their elder sibling died.) Continue reading
Throughout history the rich, especially royalty have used the medium of stained glass to promote their image. The relationship between monarch and stained glass is explored in depth in The King’s Glass: A Story of Tudor Power and Secret Art (2007) by Carola Hicks if you are interested in such things. It’s a genuinely interesting read about the secret messages woven into public stained glass to spread particular images of the monarch, propaganda almost. I, of course, am interested in the queens who rarely feature as much as their husbands in the public image. So I have collated this gallery of lovers for your viewing pleasure… Continue reading
Conspiracy theories are a way of life, they’re everywhere. Chances are you could find a conspiracy theory about anything and the Tudors are no exception. Forget wondering whether Elizabeth and Leicester were an item, here we see how not only were they an item, but parents to, amongst others, Shakespeare himself. These are not the most believable theories, but they are
Happy New Year all! This month is history on film month, because I have decreed it, and what better way to start than looking at the most filmed British monarch; Elizabeth I. Here is a selection of the more modern filmic depictions of Gloriana (and one early one) and whether they are worth a watch.
Reign, a period drama created for The CW, is two episodes in and is gaining a fair amount of mixed reviews. There are those who are quite happy to ignore the history behind the piece and enjoy the drama and entertainment value, while many are criticising the absurd acting and arguing that it is simply ‘bad’. This is of course not counting the various history buffs who are still picking bits of their brains off the wall from where their heads exploded from a complete lack of any historical accuracy. Reign is certainly creating a stir. As one reviewer put it:
“Reign” brings historical absurdism to new levels and reveals just how dumb The CW must think its audience is to accept such fantasy as fact because real history is “hard” — especially for a girl. In short, The CW is ruining the country.”