Friday, June 4, 2010

Dudley Marries Amy Robsart

The heroine of Walter Scott's "Kenilworth" was Amy Robsart.  Amy was the daughter of Sir John Robsart and Elizabeth Scott.  Amy Robsart and Robert Dudley, son of Earl John Dudley of Warwick, married on June 4, 1550.

Amy Robsart is most famous for her mysterious death.  She died of a broken neck (1560), and was found at the bottom of a set of stairs at Cumnor Place.  Supposition has it that she was either murdered, to make way for a marriage between Dudley and Queen Elizabeth I.  Another possibility is suicide.

In "Kenilworth", Scott portrays the marriage between Dudley and Robsart as secret; necessarily so due to Dudley's position at Elizabeth's court:

"...Varney kneeled down, and replied, with a look of the most profound contrition, "There had been some love passages betwixt him and Mistress Amy Robsart."

Leicester's flesh quivered with indignation as he heard his dependant make this avowal, and for one moment he manned himself to step forward, and, bidding farewell to the court and the royal favour, confess the whole mystery of the secret marriage. But he looked at Sussex, and the idea of the triumphant smile which would clothe his cheek upon hearing the avowal sealed his lips. "Not now, at least," he thought, "or in this presence, will I afford him so rich a triumph." And pressing his lips close together, he stood firm and collected, attentive to each word which Varney uttered, and determined to hide to the last the secret on which his court-favour seemed to depend. Meanwhile, the Queen proceeded in her examination of Varney.

"Love passages!" said she, echoing his last words; "what passages, thou knave? and why not ask the wench's hand from her father, if thou hadst any honesty in thy love for her?"..."

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