A gripping account of one of history’s most fascinating of alliances–the love affair between Queen Elizabeth I and her political advisor and confident, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester.
No one knows quite when and where their relationship began — though Leicester once said he’d known Elizabeth since she was eight years old. They shared an important commonality of experience — both with a parent dead on the headsman’s block, both imprisoned in the Tower just yards away.
Within days of the death of her sister, Mary, he was at her side and within months, openly spoken of as her lover, even her future husband. Her relationship with her “bonnie sweet Robin” was one of the most important in the life of Elizabeth. For thirty years he loved her, advised her, understood her, sat by her bed in sickness, and represented her on state occasions. Yet, much of the fascination in their relationship comes from what is not on display: the sudden death — some said murder — of Leicester’s wife, which damaged his reputation irretrievably; and Elizabeth’s persistent refusal for ever afterwards to marry anybody at all.
Not a conventional biography, Elizabeth & Leicester is, rather, an intimate portrait of an affair between two people at a crucial moment in history.
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Few relationships fire our imagination like that of Elizabeth I and her ‘bonnie sweet Robin’ – the Earl of Leicester, Robert Dudley.
Almost immediately after she became queen, their infatuation became the subject of letters from scandalized ambassadors. And when Robert’s wife, Amy, died a mere two years later, many speculated that they would marry.
They never did, although by the time Robert died he had been Elizabeth’s councillor and commander of her army, had sat by her bed in sickness and represented her on state occasions. But she had also humiliated him, and tried to have him clapped in prison when he finally broke loose and married again.
Elizabeth & Leicester is an intimate portrait of the bond between two of the most famous people in the land; of a relationship where, unusually, a woman held all the power; of an edgy yet enduring love that still speaks to us today.About the Author:
Sarah Gristwood is a regular contributor to the Times, Guardian, and Independent newspapers.
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