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Portrait of Elizabeth I commissioned by Robert Dudley

Robert Dudley (1533–1588), Earl of Leicester

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.

Mary Zouche, Lady in waiting to Queen Jane Seymour

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."

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.

A portrait of Lady Arbella Stuart from 1588. As the niece of Mary, Queen of Scots, and granddaughter of the Countess of Lennox, Arbella had both Tudor and Stuart blood flowing through her veins. She was considered as a possible successor for Queen Elizabeth I in the study done by Robert Persons written in Rome before the Spanish Armada of 1588.

"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.

Letter from Robert Dudley to Elizabeth I. shortly before his death. This letter was found in a small chest of Elizabeth's cherished keepsakes. She had written upon it, 'his last letter'.

Mary Queen of Scots by François Clouet, wife of Francois II. Needs attribution. No, really.