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Amy Dudley. Murder? Suicide? or Accident?
September 5, 2012
3:00 pm
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Boleyn
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Amy’s death is another mystery from Britain somewhat turbulant and bloody past..
Amy’s death certainly opened up a lot of speculation and certainly the only person who would have gained by her death was Robert Dudley.
We all know that Robert was ambitious but would he have stoopped as low to kill someone to get a crown?

Let’s look at the first option: Murder.
Firstly with Amy out of the way Robert would then be free to marry Elizabeth.
If that was the case, did Elizabeth know and approve of Robert’s plans to murder Amy? Elizabeth knew what was at stake if she married Robert after the death of Amy and I don’t believe she would have taken that risk. Elizabeth loved all men but she never fell IN love with any of them. She could see what Robert was was an ambitious man who had ideas above his station and wanted to rule her. Because of the business with Lady Jane Grey and Mary’s disasterous sham of a marriage and reign she saw that whoever she married there would always be trouble, so best not to allow her heart to rule her head.

Suicide?
If Amy did kill herself why choose such a way to do it? Falling down the stairs in a hope to break you neck would be a risk the chances are you may have broken a leg or an arm but not neccessarely your neck. As we know Amy was found at the bottom of the staircase with no sign of having fallen her clothes and her headress were all in a neat and tidy order. We also know that Amy was suffering from some sort of Cancer, could she have jumped to her death in a hope of ending her suffering? well it’s possible she did send all her servants to the fair on the day she died, but I believe thank was perhaps more of a kindness of Amy’s part as they had been looking after her for weeks and she wanted them to go and have some fun. But I don’t believe that and certainly not in light of the clothing issue. Most of the servants agreed that Amy was depressed during the last few weeks or so of her life, I believe they took her depression as being because of Robert being at Court and she missed him. Would she have told her servants that she had a growth in her breast? She may have told her cheif lady but apart from that I think something like that would have been kept secret, certainly Robert knew and he told Elizabeth who then told Cecil as the conversation with the Spanish Ambassador shows.

Accident?
Again if it was an accident then her clothing would have show some sign of a fall. I’m more inclined to believe this theory although no from an accident point of view more from a natural cause point of view. If as we now had Cancer there would at the time would be no knowing just how far the Cancer had spread and on which type of Cancer she had. It may well be that the Cancer had spread to the bones in her neck and she went downstairs to perhaps get a small beer knowing that her servants weren’t there moved wrong or coughed or something and that was enough for the bones in her neck to break, equally so although official records speak of a broken neck could it be that the Cancer had spread to her heart and it simply stopped beating and as she fell her neck was broken by the way she landed.

Either way all 3 reasons excluded any likelihood of Elizabeth ever marrying Robert. I rather think as well in times when Elizabeth was thinking “Oh to hell with it I’m going to marry Robert” she only had to look at what happened with her Cousin Mary QOS to finally put marriage with Robert or anyone firmly on the back burner. Mary’s marriage to Bothwell only a matter of a week after Darnley’s murder and what happened afterwards was enough of a warning to Elizabeth to steer well clear of being shackled to a ball and chain.
I’m also given to believe that when Robert married Lettice , her parents were not to happy as I thiink they believed he had in someway murdered his wife and that what would happen to their daughter if he got fed up with her..

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

September 5, 2012
7:57 pm
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Janet
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Interesting thoughts Boleyn and I agree with you. Personally, I think he did have her done away with. Maybe he figured if she was dying anyway he’d just be helping her along. His ambitions ran high but I don’t think he knew Elizabeth as well as he thought he did. “Robert and Elizabeth” as a couple seemed to be common knowledge and even if Amy had died of natural causes there would have been rumors of murder. I doubt Elizabeth would have taken a chance like that. She took her “job” very seriously and wouldn’t put it in jeopardy for a mere man. There was a line in one of the Elizabeth movies in which she said she was married to England. I don’t know if she ever actually said such a thing, but I can believe that’s how she felt.

September 5, 2012
8:11 pm
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Sharon
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Murder:
I don’t think Robin killed his wife. He was not stupid. He knew everyone at court would blame him and that he would never be able to marry Elizabeth if he murdered Amy. That is just plain common sense. Speculation is that he killed her to marry Elizabeth. They don’t give much in the way of brains to either Elizabeth of Dudley. He knew Amy was sick. Why kill her? I think Elizabeth decided she wasn’t going to marry anyone around the time of KH’s death, but certainly her sister’s heartaches put the kybosh on any thoughts she had of marriage.
While we are talking about this being a murder, which, again, I do not agree, I have read a theory that Cecil may have had her killed. Robin and Elizabeth were causing a scandal at court, and he wanted them separated for good. He didn’t like Dudley at this time. The theory goes that Cecil thought to end the relationship before they did decide to get married. By killing Amy, he was assured Elizabeth would never marry her Robin. Of course, Amy’s death did separate them, but I don’t think Cecil would have ordered the death of this young woman. It was no secret to him that Amy was ill. I think he was relieved that it worked out the way it did, but for him to actually kill her…nah!
Suicide:
I discount suicide completely. If she was going to kill herself, why not take a poison? Why throw herself down a flight of stairs? If her clothes were in order, I would assume one of the women who found her rearranged them for modesty sake. I do think she sent all of the servants out for a day of enjoyment. If her Chief lady knew she was dying, you can bet the rest of the household knew it too. People dying of cancer don’t look or act healthy. They were reluctant to leave her alone, but she insisted they go to the fair.
Accident:
I believe her death was an accident. She may have been weak from her illness, went downstairs to get something, tripped and fell. I think she had wounds on her head from the fall. Boleyn, her heart could have given out while she was on her way up or down the stairs.

Lettice’s Mother was dead by the time she married Dudley. She had been married to Devereaux for years. I don’t think Dad would have any input. She was a woman grown with kids of her own by then.

September 5, 2012
8:17 pm
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Sharon
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Wow! I’m just rereading my remarks. I must be in a bad mood. Didn’t mean to sound so grumpy.

September 5, 2012
8:34 pm
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Janet
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Sharon…you didn’t sound grumpy.Smile I haven’t heard of the Cecil theory. That’s certainly interesting and would be quite possible. I still think Robert was behind it, even if he didn’t actually do the deed. Another thought…perhaps someone thought he/she was helping Robert and arranged for this ‘accident’ without his knowledge? Kind of a hairbrained idea, I know. Just occurred to me. I guess it’s another mystery that will stay a cold case. Wink

September 5, 2012
11:51 pm
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Gill
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Boleyn said
As we know Amy was found at the bottom of the staircase with no sign of having fallen her clothes and her headress were all in a neat and tidy order.

..

Actually, it’s a longstanding myth that her clothes and headdress were undisturbed. There was a lot of malicious rumour around at the time it happened, and that is one of them. It kept getting repeated until it became accepted as ‘fact’…but it’s another of those things ‘everyone knows’ that just isn’t true. They found the original inquest report a few years ago and it said no such thing.

September 6, 2012
2:46 am
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Anyanka
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I should stop tidying up, I always tidy away the books I want to quote from….such a First World Problem.Wink

I’ve also read the “Cecil using Amy’s murder to stop Elizabeth marrying Dudley and eroding Cecil’s power theory”…Possibly AW??

I seriously doubt that Cecil would have killed some-one periferal simply to keep his place. Elizabeth , like her father, valued her ministers when they were actively working for her. If she thought one of them was working against her wishes then heads would be on the line.

ON balance I think it was an unfortuanate accident and that Amy either fell or slipped and her comprised health caused her neck to break.

It's always bunnies.

September 6, 2012
4:16 am
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Anyanka
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Found the book i was looking for

Death and the virgin by Chris Skidmore. Subtitled Elizabeth, Dudley and the mysterious fate of Amy Robsart.

It mentions the inquest that Gill talks about in her post. I read it a few months ago and now need to re-read it to participate in this thread properly…

It's always bunnies.

September 6, 2012
4:24 am
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boswellbaxter
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I agree it was most likely a freak accident. I certainly don’t believe Robert Dudley was guilty–nothing suggests to me that he was capable of a cold-blooded murder of this sort, and even if he was, he would have known that he would be the prime suspect. And if Amy was terminally ill, he had everything to gain by being patient and waiting for death to claim her naturally. Suicide also appears to me to be unlikely, as there were far more certain means of killing oneself than tumbling down a flight of stairs.

September 6, 2012
7:35 am
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Gill
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I don’t rule out suicide – sending all of her servants out was very odd, and considered so at the time, and it was hugely coincidental that she just happened to fall down the stairs while they were out. Apparently she got quite sharp with them when several didn’t want to go…if she was just giving them a day of enjoyment, why such insistence? The only explanation I’ve ever seen for it was the suggestion that she wanted some alone time…but the desire for solitude is a relatively modern concept and quite alien to a sixteenth century person. They were born, lived and died in a crowd and didn’t expect anything else. As to why throw herself down the stairs rather than a more reliable method – she was very ill and depressed, and may not have been too rational at that point.

Still, on balance I do think it was probably a tragic accident.

September 6, 2012
3:39 pm
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Boleyn
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Sharon said

Wow! I’m just rereading my remarks. I must be in a bad mood. Didn’t mean to sound so grumpy.

You don’t sound grumpy to me . You were just offering an opinion. You really shouldn’t worry to much Sharon, I love reading your posts they are informative and fun.

I don’t think for one minute Amy’s death was suicide as I said in my first post. The only thing that would suggest that it was, is the fact she sent her servants away, but that could be because she was sick of seeing their long faces and perhaps hearing them gossip about Robert and the Queen. there were many ways to kill yourself an overdose of some herbal remedy Mandrake or Belladona would have done it, as she had sent her servants away she could have slit her wrists, or thrown herself out of the window. but again as I said throwing herself down the stairs was no guarentee she would have broken her neck.
I think she went downstairs perhaps to go and see Mrs Owen who I believe was the only one who didn’t go to the fair. Mrs Owen had her own rooms in the house and Amy wanted a bit of company other than her servants.
Amy was probably feeling a little groggy and simply slipped or tripped down the staircase and died. There would be no way of knowing just how far the Cancer in her breast had spread and I think she must have had a heart attack and died the resulting fall could have easily broken her neck especially if the Cancer had spread to her bones.. Although rumour has it that Amy’s clothes and head dress were undisturbed I rather feel that when she was found it was the servants who re arranged her dress to make her look decent for when the doctor came to examine her body.
You can understand why the servants tidied Amy up but because they did the Doctor must have put in his report her clothes were undisturbed and the rumour about murder sprung from there.

I’ve heard the Cecil theory before and as it goes I’ve recently read about it too Cecil wasn’t a fan of Robert, but I don’t think he would stoop as low to send someone to kill Amy, just to get Robert away from the Queen. Robert was a thorn in Cecil’s side as all the time Elizabeth was carvorted with Robert, she was making herself look like a common jay and debasing herself for any decent marriage prospect.
I rather think that Cecil was of the opinion as most men were at that time that woman were not fit to govern alone and the sooner she was married to someone of suitable rank and pregnant the better. Petticoat governments were not on in Cecil’s eyes..
Elizabeth perhaps knew (she wasn’t stupid) about what Cecil and the rest of her council thought and decided to show them who was boss. It was once said that when her council told her that she must marry she countered by saying “If I was born crested instead of cloven you would have nevver spoken to me like this”. For some reason her council shut their mouths.. for a while anyway.

I feel Elizabeth’s behaviour with Robert was outragous but I don’t feel any inproperity took place. She meant what she said. “I will live and die a virgin”. With K.H and K.P examples in front of her to what happens when you surrender to a man’s will she was going to be no man’s puppet and she meant to be both Master and Mistress of her world. Although she said when K.H was murdered “I will never marry” that point was firmly hammered home when she lived with K.P after Henry’s death. She saw what being under a man’s total control could do to a woman. K.P was madly in love with T.S and he betrayed her love in the cruelist possible way. Elizabeth never forgot those lessons and was determined to keep to the promise she made when K.H was murdered..

It’s equally possible that Elizabeth kind of used Robert as a puppet and her behaviour towards Robert was purely so that she would make herself not fit to marry anyone. Elizabeth had many suitors for her hand and the council were constantly on her back about marrying how better to stop all talk of marriage than make herself look like a slattern (I don’t mean it in the way that it sounds).

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

September 6, 2012
7:31 pm
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Sharon
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September 6, 2012
8:23 pm
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Janet
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When this thread was first started, I thought that Robert had done it. After doing some reading at the Elizabeth Files and from what some of you have written here, I’ve jumped off that wagon. If Amy was dying, there would have been no reason for Robert to kill her. He could just wait it out. I don’t think she committed suicide because it was such a terrible sin. I also don’t think it was an accident of falling down the stairs. From the description, those stairs were rather short to cause such injuries. I could even understand it if she had some other breaks, such as an arm or leg, or some bruising, but to just have those two “dynts” on her head and nothing else is just so odd to me. (Of course, anything is possible. I can’t imagine what a 2″ deep dent in the head would do.)
What made the most sense to me is that Amy was killed by an enemy of Dudley’s who didn’t want him to marry the queen. Considering the goings-on between Elizabeth and Dudley, Amy’s sudden death would make it look like Dudley was behind it so that he could marry Elizabeth. Nothing would have to be proven. The rumors would do damage enough…and it worked. (I doubt that Elizabeth would have married him anyway. He was her ‘boy toy’ and good for her ego.)

Wish we could call a CSI team in. Wink

September 7, 2012
2:44 am
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Gill
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Janet said

. I don’t think she committed suicide because it was such a terrible sin.

That was the church’s teaching, yes. But I think it’s a mistake to think everyone blindly believed everything the church told them. Then as now people had their own thoughts on things and for every martyr who loudly decried church teachings there were probably hundreds who kept their mouths shut and their underwear unsinged. We can’t assume Amy did or did not believe suicide was an unforgivable sin. Even if she did, there are reasons she may not have been rational. People who are thinking clearly know plenty of reasons suicide is a bad idea…but those who are extremely depressed don’t think the same way. They get into a black pit, and the only way out they can see is death by whatever means necessary. Or the cancer might have spread to her brain and made her delusional, any number of reasons she might not have been rthinking clearly.

Anyway, I’m just playing Devil’s Advocate here anyway, because as I said earlier, I’m inclined to believe it was an accident.

September 7, 2012
8:21 am
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Maggyann
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Hi sorry I haven’t been about for a little while – having problems with my internet connection but I have managed to get on today and stay on thank goodness. I feel like an addict who has been doing cold turkey!
As to the Amy thing I have always thought that taking everything into account, her sending servants away etc that she had plans for the day, secret plans.
She was meeting with someone, don’t know who exactly but there was to be a meeting/discussion something she wanted kept private or had been asked/told to keep private.
I think the person turned up and either found her dead or dying somewhere in the house.
The person quickly summed up the position and made efforts to use her natural death to the advantage of his ‘master’ or ‘mistress’. Alternatively the person may even have been one of the ‘movers and shakers’.
Seeing that an unexplained but slightly suspicious death would better suit the long term plans of whoever the shady person in the background was her dead body was moved and placed tidily, clothes straight etc and her neck was snapped.
It looked as though she had fallen but there were suspicious inconsistencies (like the clothes).
There would be talk and whispers leading to uncertainties and allegations. By just moving and arranging the poor woman’s body a whole chain of events were set in motion which would not have occurred if she had been found, neck unbroken lying on her bed.

Let us show them that they are hares and foxes trying to rule over dogs and wolves - Boudica addressing the tribes Circa AD60

February 25, 2013
10:54 pm
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marquesspembroke
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Brandy Purdy offers an interesting twist on the life and death of Amy Robsart Dudley in The Queen’s Pleasure. I didn’t think it possible but I actually came away from my reading with a (slightly) negative mindset on Lord Robert – A concept I did not think possible!! Of course it is a work of fiction but it does offer an interesting perspective – presenting Amy’s point of view of the events of her marriage and later Elizabeth’s view of Amy once she learns that the pair were once a love match. I always find that good fiction makes one think of factual possibilities – what might or could have been. Of course, I doubt there will ever be a definitive answer… (I would have said that last year about Richard III)! As I recall Purdy fictionalizes that Elizabeth (posing as Lord Robert) sends gifts, doctors, medicine, and more importantly inquires to Amy during the last months of her life. In the end, as Amy is dying from cancer, Elizabeth orders her hastening through Cecil so that she will never be able to marry Robert as she fears her ability to refuse him and this scandal would wipe him from the marriage prospects forever. An interesting perspective…

For me, I think it was an accident, possibly hastened death in the face of immense pain, but not murder.

Ainsi sera, groigne qui groigne

March 4, 2013
12:30 am
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James33
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I read the Cecil theory in the AW book ‘Elizabeth The Queen’, it certainly is an interesting theory and to be fair she only really puts it out there as a possibility and i do have to kind of agree with her on the suspicion of Cecil’s comment to the Spanish ambassador and his dislike of Dudley and how he would have benefited with Dudley out of the way. However as it brought a great stain on Elizabeth at the time, i am unsure as to it as well, would really have thought it wise? For all he knew there could have been some kind of uprising and Elizabeth loosing her throne!! I am yet to read the Chris Skidmore book, so maybe best to wait til then to commenting on this debate lol.

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