Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Question from Victoria - Amy Robsart and Robert Dudley's relationship

Do you believe there ever was love between Amy Robsart abd Robert Dudley when they were first married and before he became favored by the Queen. I read one account that the marriage began very happily, and another account that said it was a contractual marriage and they were hardly ever together. Thanks.


Anonymous PhD Historian said...

The question is anachronistic because it seems to assume that marriage in the sixteenth century necessarily invloved "love," as we define it today. While "love" may have been involved at lower socio-economic levels, such as the lesser gentry and below, it seldom figured in aristocratic and noble marriages. Indeed, when it did figure in such upper-level marriages, it was usually cause for scandal (e.g.: Frances Brandon Grey's second marriage to her much younger servant, her daughter Katherine's marriage to Edward Seymour in late 1560, Henry VIII's marriages to Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour and Katherine Howard). Without some direct documentary statement from the hand of Amy Robsart or Robert Dudley to suggest otherwise, it is doubtful that the match was based on "love" rather than property and increasing Dudley's wealth. Amy was her father's sole legitimate heir, and when the marital contract was arranged, her father agreed that his entire estate would pass to her. Under English law at that time, that was legally essentially the same as passing it to Dudley himself. Dudley thus had a very great motivator, i.e., money, to wed Amy. The fact that Dudley spent so much time apart from her and that Amy never served at court mitigate against the idea that the couple were "in love." In the absence of solid evidence to the contrary, circumstantial evidence suggests it was a property-based marriage, not a "love match." Further, as one historian has noted, there is virtually no evidence of any pregnancy or miscarriage, and certainly no children. That too suggests that the couple were not close.

November 01, 2006 9:06 PM  
Anonymous Arabella H. said...

Their marriage was probably a love-match! At least two of Robert Dudley's more recent biographer's agree on that. Prof.Simon Adams, the greatest expert on Dudley among academics says, it is uncertain why he married Amy, which leaves room for love (S. Adams, Leicester and the Court, Manchester UP, 2002). Robert's father was, in 1550, the mightiest adult in England, all his other children married very politically (poor Guilford), or at least very rich. Sir John Robsart was a "middling gentleman-farmer" (Adams). Amy would only inherit after both parents' death. Neither was Sir John Robsart especially rich, and the young couple were very dependent on regular gifts by Robert's father (which he could filch because of his position of power).
Robert had most probably known Amy for some ten months before they married. It was she of all the wives of the Dudley brothers who asked the Privy Council (successfully) for permission to visit her husband while he was staying in the Tower. Her letter which, according to Adams, she wrote days before Robert went to the continent to fight in 1557, betrays certainly love for her husband (she was clearly sad and angry for his departure). The often-cited letters of Robert to Blount directly after her death, in which he doesn't elaborate on his feelings, are no proof whatsoever that he had none: he would not discuss such matters with his household official. Apart from this, the letters show clearly, that he was under shock.- Ask any psychologist! Incidentally, Robert Dudley never managed to marry for money (or even position) later in his life. Presumably because of his Queen of course, he spurned all offers of princesses, of which there were quite a lot in the 1560s and 1570s. He even resisted vehemently to be married to Mary Queen of Scots! In this case, he also resisted the Elizabeth's wishes.

May 26, 2009 3:41 AM  

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