Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Royal Marriage Mart

Robert Dudley was the same age as the queen, but luckily for him he'd been married off at age 17 to Amy Robsart. Luckily b/c when it came time for a Dudley to wed Jane Grey, Guildford was the only one left who wasn't married, so Robin had a narrow escape there & we wouldn't have this faskinating tale unfolding right this min.

OK, he was in the Tower for a bit under Mary's reign, & had spent the last 2 yrs mostly dancing attendance on the new queen, but still, after 10 yrs, he & Amy hadn't managed to produce one single little Dudley. Natch Elizabeth didn't invite Amy to court at all, so Amy was stuck out in the country likely getting peeved at the whole thing. But there'd been a rumor circulating that Amy was ill w/ "a malady of the breast" (we guess breast cancer even tho she was awfully young for it) & Robin was just waiting on his wife to demise so that he could marry the queen.

Like the Scots, the English weren't thrilled at the prospect of having one of their own lording it over them. Cecil threw out lots of nice princes for Elizabeth's selection, but she said she wasn't interested in any of em. King Eric of Sweden was wooing her & tis said she even had a nibble from Ivan the Terrible, the Tsar of Russia, but Elizabeth was having too much fun playing w/ Robin & was so publicly affectionate toward him that peeps feared she might really marry him when his wife popped off. Besides being a bit of an arrogant stud-muffin type, not only had his daddy been executed by Mary, but his grandpa was the very 1st execution of Henry VIIIs reign, allegedly for mismanaging Henry VIIs money HA like he didn't know where every stray farthing was! That John Dudley was just a scapegoat & a way for Henry to get rid of one of his father's most unpopular councilors. Still, for a King of England to have treason blotting his family escutcheon? Just not done. Everyone hoped the rumors about Amy were wrong & she'd live to be 100.

But then Amy's dead body was found at the bottom of the staircase at Cumnor Place.

The circumstances were suspicious, b/c when you were the wife of an important peep, didn't nobody ever leave off pestering you for one min of the day. But Amy had given leave to her entire household to attend a fair in town & was home alone, which was quite unusual. It was said that it wasn't so very big of a staircase as to break your neck falling down it, & that Amy's headdress didn't even look askew when the body was found. B/c no one was present at the time of demise, an inquest had to be held.

Peeps was all saying Robin couldn't wait any longer & pd someone to go shove Amy down the stairs or just plain snap her neck & make it look as tho she'd fallen. Or mayhap he'd had poison administered & she got the swoons from it & took a tumble. Tongues were wagging over this surprising unnatural demise of the queen's BFs wife. Some even said Elizabeth was either in on the plot to get rid of Amy, or had instigated it herself. Everyone was looking at her sideways & muttering against her for the 1st time in her reign & Elizabeth didn't like that one bit, esp as some of em were saying they should invite MQOS over instead. Cat Ashley wrung her hands a lot & Cecil glowered a lot & they both went SEE? WE TOLDJA THIS WOULD COME TO NO GOOD! IS HE WORTH LOSING YOUR CROWN OVER?

Elizabeth I
the Clopton Portrait

So Elizabeth banished Robin from court. Admittedly not very far, just over to a manor she'd granted him at Kew. She told him not to come back until the inquest had brought in a verdict.

Twas "death by misadventure" as the Brits so quaintly put it when they dunno what happened LOL In the US we'd call it accidental death. Amy's neck was broken, all right, & w/ no signs of foul play & no witnesses, they were hard put to come back w/ anything else. So tis almost as good a whodunnit as the PITT.

Some historians propose maybe Amy was just really depressed over having that pain in her bosom & a DH who was off flirting w/ the queen & hurled herself down those stairs, committing suicide. Didn't nobody want to mention such in those days as suicides can't be buried in hallowed ground or even have a nice funeral, so it was considered a huge disgrace & there had to be solid evidence b4 any demise was declared to be suicide. Some historians say that if Amy did have breast cancer, & it usually metastizes into the spine if untreated (as it was back then) or returns, she would've had extremely brittle bones, so that a fall that prolly wouldn't kill anyone else may have indeed snapped her neck. Splendid historical forensics, that one.

I like the rogue historian notion that Cecil was at his wits' end at Elizabeth carrying on w/ her bonny Robin, hearing all the grumbling & the threats of rebellion if they got hitched, & decided to quietly go behind everyone's back & off the wench himself to save the queen from her own his own job, natch, b/c if Elizabeth got deposed, where would that leave him as her principal supporter?

William Cecil
Lord Burghley

Dontcha just love a good history mystery? At any rate, Elizabeth got a good scare & a glimpse of what it would be like to lose her peeps' favor. Robin kept his goodies & was eventually brought back to court, but he was received coolly & Elizabeth was rarely as open in her affections for him as she'd previously been. Robin tried his bestest to woo the queen back & he prolly did, but it was done discreetly & most peeps think that whole Virgin Queen thing is just a myth. On the other hand, look how many yrs her mother said NO & her father sighed & took it. So we shall never know if they did or if they didn't. But it do seem as if they were madly in love w/ each other & who knows, if Amy had died less spectacularly, if Elizabeth would've married him & still kept her throne.

After all this nonsense, Elizabeth got really aggravated when she received a letter from MQOS requesting safe passage thru England.


MQOS had crawled out from under the covers, decided she didn't much like playing 2nd banana to Catherine de Medici, confabbed w/ her Guise unks, & decided it was time to go back to Scotland & play queen there instead.

The Scots lords weren't happy esp Moray, who if not for being born on the wrong side of the royal blankie could've been king himself & was actually doing a decent job of being regent & keeping the lords from warring all the time. Also, that whole religion thing had crept over the wall & they Scots decided they didn't want to be Catholic anymore, either, & formed a thing called the Kirk, which is Scots for church, & this is where the Presbyterians come from. The Kirk leader was John Knox & he was a real pulpit-thumper. Even Elizabeth didn't like him b/c he'd written a treatise about "this monstrous regiment of women" taking over thrones & it wasn't just MQOS he was trash-talking, but Elizabeth & Mary, too.

But she didn't much like the idea of MQOS coming north to stir the pot & so she said pffft to the request for safe passage & made her sail around England instead. Ya'd think that would be easier anyway LOL but apparently MQOS was all gushy & wanting to meet up w/ her cuz & play Mystery Date en route or whatever. Elizabeth wanted her to ratify the Treaty of Greenwich, that had been lollygagging unsigned by the Scots since the Rough Wooing, & MQOS said um NO to that. Elizabeth said she hoped MQOSs ship would go down b/c then the Scots would just go fight amongst themselves & not keep peeking over the wall at England covetously w/ buns & Worcestershire sauce at the ready.

The trip was stormy, but MQOS managed to land in Scotland where nobody didn't want her.

The Catholics frowned at MQOS b/c the Kirk peeps were a solid majority & so she thunk it not a good idea to come in like Mary of England & start burning heretics or making them be Catholic. That was prolly the only smart decision MQOS ever made LOL Twas a stumbling block in her negotiations to marry Philip's son Don Carlos (which worked out to her advantage, anyway, b/c like I said, he was insane).

Elizabeth I
the Rainbow Portrait

Meanwhile Elizabeth was being courted on behalf of Catherine de Medici's 3 remaining sons, who were all ridiculously young for her, but she pretended to be interested & when her council started giving her the stink eye she said all innocent, what? ya want me to get hitched, dontcha?

MQOS circa 1565

Then one of the Scots lordlings decided he was going to kidnap MQOS & force her to marry him, so she had to plan her 1st execution b/c that was treason. There was also a rebellion in the north that had to be put down; the rebellious peeps were Catholics, so that made MQOS a bit more popular w/ the Kirk.

A Duke of Holstein came sniffing round Elizabeth & he was old enough to be serious contender & she even made him a Knight of the Garter, but this courtship came to naught as well.

Since MQOS was lacking suitors, Elizabeth decided to offer her sweet bonny Robin to her as candidate for DH!

Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester

Peeps thunk she had a deal w/ him whereby his brats would succeed to both thrones, as MQOS had her ambassador approach Elizabeth about being officially named the English heir. And Robin would get a nice shiny crown, just not the one he wanted. MQOS was insulted & said um NO, not unless you make me your heir, I ain't touching him w/ a 10 ft pole! Elizabeth said, sign the darn treaty, then, & I'll consider it. The Scots lords said um NO.  MQOS commenced flipping thru her Rolodex of available Catholic lads.

Meanwhile, there was a cpl other Tudor boys who hadn't come to notice yet. Margaret Douglas was finally allowed to get married when she was around 30, to Matthew Stuart, Earl of Lennox. He was a Scots peep who made a run for the border during one of their tiresome spats & hung around. They produced a pair of lads, Charles, who was only about 6, & Henry, Lord Darnley, who was nigh on 18 & close enough in age to 20 yo MQOS.

Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley

Lennox wanted permission to go back to Scotland & check on the goodies he left behind, & he wanted his boy Henry to go w/ him, see the sights, eat some haggis, learn to play the bagpipes or wear a kilt, mayhap, infuse himself in his ancestral culture. Besides, young Henry there (named to suck up to Unks the VIII) was, well, rather a lout. He liked to drink & gamble & brawl & go to houses of ill-repute & twas rumored he hadn't quite decided which team he was batting for, so Pops thunk mayhap a nice vay-cay would straighten him out. O LOL no pun intended, honest, it just spewed out like that LOL I could do this in my sleep I reckon ROFL Mayhap I am....Jeeves, tis time to bring out the Black Watch plaid jammies, if you don't mind.

Anyhow, Lennox's request hit Cecil's desk & he hmmm'd some. The Lennox kidlet was what the Scots like to call a "lang lad", b/c apparently he'd gotten a dash of leftover Plantagenet genes & measured in at 6'3", which meant he was taller than MQOS, which most men were not. He was supposedly good-looking enough (meh I don't see it & his bro looks like an elf LOL) for peeps to throw themselves at him (tho not recorded how much they had to drink when twas done). He had the requisite splash of the blood royal from Mummy's side, & Daddy was Scots. Might not MQOS hmmm at him also & think he was more suitable than Robin as her new DH? So Cecil stamped it um NO & chortled over the Lennox cheek to Elizabeth.

Elizabeth said, now, Willie, let's not be too hasty here! The kid's also a total jerk! He's dumb as a sock full of rocks & betcha he'd like Scots whisky a whole lot better than this watered-down Frenchie stuff we got over here. Wouldn't it be a kick to saddle my cuz w/ a dolt like that, esp after she had nerve to sniff at my bonny Robin?

Cecil stroked his beard & hmmm'd some more. By the rood, Your Majesty, your intelligence & craftiness humbles me! Let's indeed send Darnley over the wall & see if anything develops.

But b4 Cecil could erase the um NO, Elizabeth came down with a really REALLY bad case of the sicks. She contracted smallpox. There weren't any vaccinations in those days (there aren't any now, come to think of it, hope none of it seeps out of the CDC or we're all screwed....well, maybe not us older peeps who've had the vaccination, but you younguns are toast....). Unlike Daddy's mild case, Elizabeth's attacked w/ a vengeance. Her BFF in those days was Mary Sidney, Robin's sister, & Mary, along w/ Cat Ashley, devotedly nursed her. Elizabeth was so bad off peeps started to become afeared that she might demise w/ doing her duty & catching a hubby to make an heir with. Who was going to get the throne if she did? Catherine Grey....William Stanley....Henry Stuart....MQOS? WHO??? She hadn't named an heir & she was delirious w/ fever! Desperately they tried to bring her around enough to talk lucidly, at one pt plunging her into a bath full of ice water to lower the fever. After they got her out & back into bed, Cecil crept in & said, Madam, you MUST name your successor! You are sick unto death!

Everyone was shocked w/ what Elizabeth managed to dictate to her sec'y. She absolutely refused to pick from the available assortment of heirs & instead insisted that were she to die, she wanted Robert Dudley to be named Lord Protector of the Realm! BUT....THAT AIN'T DONE! Cecil howled, irritated at the mere notion of kowtowing to Dudley. Tis now, & I ain't dead yet, said Elizabeth, who scrawled her sig, rolled over to take a nap, & left em all consternated.

Elizabeth's sig

This was worse than marrying him! Ya just didn't APPOINT some peep king! There was all that royal blood & divine right stuff to be considered, not to mention all the treason forking in the Dudley family tree. Pray she does not die, said Cecil grimly, & they all nodded & did so....pffft to the idea of King Robert!

Elizabeth passed the crisis & recovered, breathing a sigh of relief that her face hadn't gotten all scarred w/ pockmarks. One of her sickbed attendants, however, was not so lucky as the queen.

Mary Sidney came down w/ just as bad a case of the pox as the queen had, but when she recovered her face was totally ravaged by craters. She retired from court & only came to visit rarely, swathed in thick dark veils so no one could get a look at her face. Elizabeth was all weepy that her BFFs beauty had been destroyed for love of her & she gave lots of goodies to Mary & her kids.

Cecil was even more frowny once the queen was fully recovered & insisted she get married b/c she had no time to lose (now being past 30) or at least pick an heir more suitable to rule England than that rogue Robert Dudley! Elizabeth stubbornly refused, citing how peeps had left London in droves to leave her sis to die all alone b/c they wanted to come to Hatfield & suck up to the designated heir. She was not going to have any heirs to be the focal points of rebellions TYVM, nor was she dumb as Mary to bring over some foreigner for peeps to glare at. Maybe she could marry a nice Englishman? Cecil got all huffy & went back to stamping OK on travel permts really hard & waved buhbye to pere et fils Lennox as they trotted off to Scotland.

Lennox poked his son & told him he best be on sterling behavior (see, if ya know Scots palaces, that's a subtle joke LOL) & impress the Scots queen b/c there could be a nice crown in it for him if she took a fancy to him. Darnley rather liked the notion of a nice shiny crown & being king & ordering any peep he wanted to around, not to mention unlimited coin & wenches & my wasn't that Scots whisky good! So he sucked up to MQOS something awful & in no time at all she was down w/ a feverish case of the besotteds.....

No comments:

Post a Comment