Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester was an important figure in the court of Queen Elizabeth I. He was a trusted advisor to the Queen and held many important positions in her government. He was also a great patron of the arts and helped support many artists and musicians during his time.
Robert Dudley was born on June 24, 1532, into a wealthy family. His father was John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland who served as Lord Protector during the reign of King Edward VI.
Robert was raised in a Protestant household and attended St John’s College at Cambridge University. At the age of 14, he joined the Royal Navy where he served as an officer. After serving ten years with distinction, Robert left the military to pursue other interests including art, literature, and music.
In 1558 Queen Elizabeth I succeeded to the throne and Robert Dudley returned from exile to serve her court. He quickly became a trusted advisor and friend to the Queen. Over the next few years, Robert gained more and more power as he became an important member of the Privy Council, a Master of Horse, Lord Steward, and Lord-Lieutenant.
In 1564 Robert Dudley married Lady Amy Robsart. Lady Amy lived apart from her husband at Cumnor Place in Oxfordshire while he continued to work at court.
On September 8, 1560, Lady Amy was found dead at the bottom of a staircase in her home with a broken neck. Rumors immediately began to spread that Robert Dudley had murdered his wife so he would be free to marry Queen Elizabeth I and become king himself. He vehemently denied these rumors and no charges were ever brought against him for his wife’s death.
In 1564 Robert Dudley was made a Knight of the Garter and named Earl of Leicester in 1564 by Queen Elizabeth I. He continued to gain political power during this time but never gained the title or position he desired most, that of King Consort.
The closeness between Lord Leicester and Queen Elizabeth I was often misinterpreted and caused much gossip at court.
Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester died on September 4, 1588, at the age of 55. He was buried in the Church of St Mary the Virgin in Warwick.
Despite his many accomplishments, Robert Dudley will always be best remembered as being a close friend and advisor to Queen Elizabeth I.
Link/cite this page
If you use any of the content on this page in your own work, please use the code below to cite this page as the source of the content.
Link will appear as Hanson, Marilee. "Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester" https://englishhistory.net/tudor/citizens/robert-dudley-1st-earl-of-leicester/, February 2, 2022