The Death of Amye Robsart

The mysterious death of Amye Robsart – murdered, as many of her contemporaries thought, at the instigation of her scheming husband, favourite of Queen Elizabeth I – provides one of the strangest unsolved problems in Elizabethan history.

In August 1549, Lord Warwick, on his way to put down Ket’s rebellion, stayed for a night at the home of Sir John Robsart, Stanfield Hall, near Wymondham, two of his sons, Ambrose and Robert Dudley, with him. The rebels crushed, Warwick went back to his political battle with Protector Somerset. Was he or was Somerset to rule the young King, Edward VI? But in the back of his mind lay the memory of Amye Robsart and her father’s manors in Norfolk: Syderstone, Newton-by Bircham, Great Bircham, which fed three thousand sheep. On May 24th, 1550, he and Sir John signed a contract of marriage between ‘Robarte Duddeley escuyer . . . and Amye Robsart daughter and heyre apparaunte of the said Syr John if the said Robarte and Amye will thereunto condiscend.’ On June 4th, in the chapel of Sheen Palace, they were married in presence of the King. It was no love match; but it is likely that they fell in love, for he was ‘much given to women’ and easily attracted them.

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