Death and the Virgin

Elizabeth, Dudley and the Mysterious Death of Amy Robsart

Published by Weidenfeld and Nicholson on 25 February 2010

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On 9 September 1560 Amy Robsart, the wife of Robert Dudley, Queen Elizabeth’s favourite courtier, was found lying dead at the foot of a staircase. Her neck was broken, yet there was no other mark or wound on her body. She was 28 years old.

It was a death that scandalised Tudor England. Was Amy’s death an accident, suicide, or murder? In the months before, speculation was rife that Amy— nowhere to be seen at court— was being poisoned. Robert Dudley’s open flirtation with the young Queen Elizabeth only fuelled rumours that he had orchestrated his own wife’s death. Elizabeth was the most eligible woman in Christendom. The security of the realm, as she was continually reminded, depended on her finding a husband. With her favourite now conveniently widowed, perhaps the queen had found her consort at last.

The death of Amy Robsart is one of the most famous unsolved mysteries of the Tudor period. Now for the first time, in this gripping account Chris Skidmore is able to put an end to centuries of speculation as to the true nature of Amy’s death. Death and the Virgin is both an investigation into an unsolved death and a vivid portrait of a remarkable and frenetic period in the life of the young Virgin Queen.


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