Murder In The Court by April Little
Along with the list of rumors and speculations about the Queen, probably one of the most perpetual is the assumption of a conspiracy involving Queen Elizabeth and Robert Dudley’s heinous plot to have Dudley’s wife, Amy Robsart, murdered.
Robert Dudley’s social status began to rise due to the honorable appointments and property rights given to him by Queen Elizabeth. Because of this, he spent less and less time at home with his wife with few visits. Before her death, Amy was ill and probably suffering from cancer. Robert Dudley was away at Windsor Castle. On Sunday, September 8, 1560, Amy insisted that her servants attend the Abingdon Fair, most likely leaving her alone in the house, but there is still debate on whether this was actually true. Later that day, the servants returned only to find Amy dead at the foot of the staircase. Her neck was broken. It seems she had fallen. Or had she?
When news arrived back to Robert Dudley, he ordered an investigation immediately. Queen Elizabeth banished Dudley from the court to ward off any speculations about their involvement in the Amy’s death. But the rumors spread just as rapidly as the news could be relayed. The Queen’s infatuation with Dudley was obvious to many, both in and outside the court. And it did not help that he was despised and envied in the Privy Council as well. Even the Queen’s chief advisor and Secretary of State, William Cecil, encouraged demeaning gossip about the scandal, mostly due to his great displeasure with Robert Dudley and his attempts to keep Dudley’s marriage to the Queen utterly impossible. It seemed that the two had a motive: to terminate Robert’s marriage and begin a new marriage together. There was gossip about Robert had intentions to murder Amy and had hired someone to have her thrown down the steps. Some said he wanted to poison her. Other’s believed it was simply Amy who committed suicide
After two strenuous investigations, the verdict told it all: Not guilty due to mischance or accidental death. No evidence could be found to reveal a murderous plot. Elizabeth and Robert were legally free, but not free from slander. There are still doubters. Nothing has yet to be historically proven. This event remains one of the 16th century’s most famed enigmas in Elizabethan history.
Ford, David N. Royal Berkshire History: Amy Robsart, Lady Dudley. Home page.
2004. 10 Apr. 2007. <http://www.berkshirehistory.com/bios/arobsart.html>.
Hanson, John. Amy Robsart. Home page. 3 Dec. 2005. 10 Apr. 2007.
Hibbert, Christopher. The Virgin Queen: Elizabeth I, Genius of the Golden Age.
Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc, 1991.
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