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In 1559, Robert Dudley, after the death of his first wife in suspicious circumstances, became one of seven contenders to marry Elizabeth I. Some of the English nobility presenting themselves were enemies. In particular they distrusted Dudley. Dudley's father, had been betrayed by Arundel, another suitor, and executed for treason. Arundel feared a reprisal. Dudley's open familiarity with Elizabeth I was also the subject of gossip both inside and outside of court and was noted by ambassadors.
Robert Sidney, 1st Earl of Leicester (19 November 1563 – 13 July 1626), second son of Sir Henry Sidney, was a statesman of Elizabethan and Jacobean England. He was also a patron of the arts and an interesting poet. His mother, Mary Sidney née Dudley, was a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth I and a sister of Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, an advisor and favourite of the Queen.
Robert Devereux, (1565-1601), 2nd Earl of Essex, son of Lettice Knollys, great-grandson of Mary Boleyn. Step son to Robert Dudley. He was a military hero and royal favourite of Elizabeth I, but following a poor campaign against Irish rebels during the Nine Years' War in 1599, he failed in a coup d'état against the queen and was executed for treason.
Elizabeth I. and Robert Dudley Dated to 1575, a pivotal year in their relationship. "It is the year when Robert Dudley finally gave up his hope of marrying Queen Elizabeth I."
"His Last Letter"-this was the last letter Elizabeth I received from Dudley, when he was away from her recovering from his infirmities. Dudley thanks Elizabeth for the medicine that she has sent him, informing her that the tonics were much better than anything else he had been given. He inquires as to her health, and jokes "I humbly kiss your foot". Any places in the letter where two o's are together, Dudley doodled them into eyes, a nod to Elizabeth's nickname for him.
1585 - Portrait of Lettice Knollys (1543-1634) Attributed to George Gower. Countess of Essex through her first marriage to Walter Devereaux, Ist Earl of Essex. Countess of Leicester, through her second marriage to Robert Dudley, the Queen's favourite. They married in secret and when discovered were banished from court as a result of the union
Sir Henry Lee may not be as famous as some of Queen Elizabeth I’s other favourites, most notably Robert Dudley or Robert Devereux. Sir Henry had been the Queen’s Tournament Champion in the 1580s, and he arranged many of her famous Accession Day jousts. More poignantly, he had also been the Master of the Armouries, based at the Tower of London, during her reign.
Mary Queen of Scots, granddaughter of Margeret Tudor, Henry VIII's sister. Based on this Tudor lineage, the Catholic Mary was a claimant to the English throne if Elizabeth I did not produce an heir. Mary returns in 1561. By 1562, Elizabeth's jealous fear of her Catholic cousin is made clear. Elizabeth, still unmarried and childless, contracted smallpox and her deathbed, Act of Succession, is to make Robert Dudley, her lover, with no rightful claims to the throne, Regent of England.