Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Amy was the daughter of a wealthy landowner, Sir John Robsart . The Robsarts were the neighbors of the Dudley family, whose patriarch was John Dudley, the Duke of Northumberland and one of the regents of King Edward VI, Henry VIII's Heir.
When she was 17, Amy married Robert Dudley, the eldest of Sir John's sons. (One of John's other sons, Guilford, married Lady Jane Grey, who was Queen of England for nine days.) The betrothal between Amy and Robert Dudley appeared to be a love match, since both families were wealthy. Also, their marriage contract stated that they would be wed only if they did "condescend and agree" to the match.
The wedding was held with King Edward in attendance, but soon proved to infact be an unhappy marriage. Dudley spent most of his time at court with the new queen, Elizabeth I. He did not allow Amy to come to court, as he did not wish to remind the queen her favorite was a married man. Early in 1560 Amy was living in the manor Cumnor Place , near Abingdon. The house was owned by friends of Dudley, some of whom lived with Amy. Although legend has it she was a sort of prisoner, it is more likely she had complete freedom of movement.
Amy is best known for her death, which occurred on September 8, 1560. She told all her household to attend the fair at Abingdon. When they returned, they found Amy lying dead at the foot of the house's staircase, her neck broken. Charges of murder were leveled at Dudley, the implication being he had Amy murdered to clear his way to marry the queen. At the very least, Dudley's critics speculated Amy committed suicide over her husband's infidelity. The inquiry was headed by Dudley's brother-in-law, Sir Henry Sidney, and he was cleared.
Modern forensic historians cite contemporary accounts of Amy complaining of pain in her chest, leading to a possible diagnosis of breast cancer. This could explain Amy's falling down the stairs, or wishing to kill herself. Cancer can also cause porous bones , explaining the broken neck. In any event, the scandal surrounding Amy's death was enough to discourage Queen Elizabeth from marrying Dudley.
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