Author Topic: What do you think happened to Amy Robsart Dudley?  (Read 43869 times)

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Offline Helen_Azar

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What do you think happened to Amy Robsart Dudley?
« on: December 06, 2005, 04:24:22 PM »
It has been generally accepted that it was a suicide, but there have been other speculations... Accident? murder? There were a few at court who benefitted from Dudley's fall out of favor as a result of this death, at least in the short run, so who knows... I think it could make an interesting discussion...

Offline Kimberly

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Re: What do you think happened to Amy Robsart Dudl
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2005, 05:38:21 PM »
Well, one idea is that Amy had terminal breast cancer and to finally escape from the terrible pain, Amy threw herself down the stairs after insuring all  her staff had left for the local fete, including her maid Pinto.
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Offline Helen_Azar

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Re: What do you think happened to Amy Robsart Dudl
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2005, 05:42:42 PM »
Quote
Well, one idea is that Amy had terminal breast cancer and to finally escape from the terrible pain, Amy threw herself down the stairs after insuring all  her staff had left for the local fete, including her maid Pinto.


Yes, this was the official suicide version. But it has also been said that Amy did not have cancer and was in fact perfectly healthy, if not very happy, and it was just a rumor started to avoid her untimely demise looking suspicious... If this was true, then the suicide to end the pain theory wouldn't really work.  It was never really confirmed one way or another that she had breast cancer, or was it?

Offline ilyala

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Re: What do you think happened to Amy Robsart Dudl
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2005, 04:03:05 AM »
when did the breast cancer version appear and what is it based on? did anyone read a letter of hers or of her friends', or was an autopsy done or something? are there any real facts this theory is based on or did it just conveniently show up to make it best for everyone (let's face it, it is very convenient)?

if there are no facts i'd say her death happened at a too convenient moment for it to be an accident. whether it was robert's doing, or someone who realized what her death would do to him and wanted to bring him down, i can't say. any facts that could clue us in?
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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: What do you think happened to Amy Robsart Dudl
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2005, 09:34:32 AM »
According to Anne Somerset's biography of Elizabeth, Amy had been sick since 1559 with what was termed at the time a "malady in one of her breasts," which could very well have been breast cancer. As the disease progressed her bones could have become so brittle from cancerous deposits that "even the slight exertion involved in walking downstairs could have caused a spontaneous fracture of the spine."

This recent theory about Amy's death makes more sense to me than the old theory that she killed herself by throwing herself down the stairs, since the staircase apparently wasn't steep enough to cause a fatal injury. The fact that the staircase wasn't all that steep, however, at the time helped give rise to the rumors that she had been murdered. Personally I think this is unlikely (although it seems she was alone in the house at the time, having sent all her servants away that day, to go to the local fair). If she was already seriously ill, then no one, no matter how devoted to Robert Dudley, would have taken such an unnecessary risk as to murder her.
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Offline Eddie_uk

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Re: What do you think happened to Amy Robsart Dudl
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2005, 01:33:25 PM »
Hi, I have not heard of this lady before! Please could you give me a bit more info on her? Many Thanks  :)
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Offline Kimberly

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Re: What do you think happened to Amy Robsart Dudl
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2005, 02:34:28 PM »
Hey there eddieboy, Amy Robsart was the daughter of a Norfolk knight and she married Robert Dudley, later the Earl of Leicester. she was more or less "put out to pasture" by Robert, at Cumnor Place (Berkshire I think) whilst he followed his ambitions at the court of Elizabeth I st. She was found dead  at the bottom of the staircase, with a broken neck. The question is .....did she fall or was she pushed :o
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Offline bell_the_cat

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Re: What do you think happened to Amy Robsart Dudl
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2005, 03:08:00 AM »
Here's an interesting link about Cumnor Place, discussing the possible shape of the staircase:

http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/external/cumnor/index.html

click on Amy Robsart and again to find the article by Peggy Inman
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by bell_the_cat »
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Offline Kimberly

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Re: What do you think happened to Amy Robsart Dudl
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2005, 03:54:11 AM »
That was very interesting Bell and the article seems to cover everything
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Offline bell_the_cat

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Re: What do you think happened to Amy Robsart Dudl
« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2005, 06:42:37 AM »
the building seems to have been no more than two
storeys, so it couldn't have been a very long stair. It also says in the article that they were dog-legged stairs (i.e. turning a corner). So if Amy was fit it wouldn't have been a brilliant suicide option (better idea - go up on the roof !), or murder scheme, unless she was killed and then thrown down.
Never put off until tomorrow what you can put off until the day after tomorrow. (Mark Twain)

Offline Eddie_uk

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Re: What do you think happened to Amy Robsart Dudl
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2005, 06:58:00 AM »
Thank you so much!  :) A very interesting case!!
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Offline Helen_Azar

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Re: What do you think happened to Amy Robsart Dudl
« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2005, 09:24:15 AM »
Quote
According to Anne Somerset's biography of Elizabeth, Amy had been sick since 1559 with what was termed at the time a "malady in one of her breasts," which could very well have been breast cancer. As the disease progressed her bones could have become so brittle from cancerous deposits that "even the slight exertion involved in walking downstairs could have caused a spontaneous fracture of the spine."

This recent theory about Amy's death makes more sense to me than the old theory that she killed herself by throwing herself down the stairs, since the staircase apparently wasn't steep enough to cause a fatal injury. The fact that the staircase wasn't all that steep, however, at the time helped give rise to the rumors that she had been murdered. Personally I think this is unlikely (although it seems she was alone in the house at the time, having sent all her servants away that day, to go to the local fair). If she was already seriously ill, then no one, no matter how devoted to Robert Dudley, would have taken such an unnecessary risk as to murder her.


Thanks, Elisabeth, I have read about this theory and it would make sense of course, if it weren't for the fact that Amy was so adamant that everyone left her alone that day, which was supposedly very inconsistent with her normal behavior (reportedly she hated to be left alone at any time). It may be too much of a coincidence that the first time she was left competely alone - at her own strong insistance, she had the spontenuos fracture of the spine - and not at any other time when someone would have witnessed it...  In which case, a planned suicide would make more sense... Also, I am not so sure if we can ever get any proof that she was seriously ill one way or the other, yes according to many biographers  she was, but I have a feeling that most of them are just repeating what was said previously by someone else, who may not have obtained this info from any primary records but may have just based it on rumors, as some claim. This happens often in history, some things are accepted as fact for a long time, until someone looks into it and figures out that there is no real evidence and that things may have been quite different in reality.. Ultimately we will never know for sure what happened as too much time has passed, but it would be interesting to look at  this from a modern perspective and find out what modern detectives would make out of this case if they were to investigate it, sort of like in the Cold Case Files - in this instance ICE COLD file!  ;D...
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by helenazar »

Offline Helen_Azar

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Re: What do you think happened to Amy Robsart Dudl
« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2005, 09:48:18 AM »
Quote
If she was already seriously ill, then no one, no matter how devoted to Robert Dudley, would have taken such an unnecessary risk as to murder her.


Also, I forgot to add that the "murder theorists" don't claim that the murder would have been committed by Dudley's friends to benefit him, but quite the contrary- it would have been done by one of his political enemies (of whom he had many), in order to get him out of the picture or at least to hurt his standing with the queen and ensure that she could never marry him. It does make some twisted sense, especially if Amy was indeed very ill. If Amy died of natural causes where there was no question of foul play, then Elizabeth would have been free to marry her widower having no qualms about it (whether she would have is another question - but this would have been the general perception at the time). But, if someone set Dudley up and made it look like his wife was killed by his orders, or at least if she died under ambiguous circumstances, it would be a different story... With the latter, no matter what, Dudley would always be under suspicion of murdering his wife in order to marry the queen, so Elizabeth - who was known to be very careful of her image - would be at the very least very hesitant to marry him and at best would not come near him with a ten foot pole or even (his enemies most certainly would have dared to hope) executed him for murder... So it was the perfect way for Dudley's enemies to ensure his fall from grace, on some level at least... There have even been some speculations that Cecil was the one who had this murder arranged because he was despondent of Elizabeth's relationship with Dudley and deathly afraid of where it may lead...

I am just playing the devil's advocate here, as I don't tend to believe these types of theories unless there is very strong evidence, but I have to admit that some sort of foul play theory is not as unlikely as it initially seems...
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by helenazar »

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: What do you think happened to Amy Robsart Dudl
« Reply #13 on: December 08, 2005, 10:30:54 AM »
But it seems to me that if they were trying to make it look like a murder, in order to incriminate Dudley, then they would have used a weapon of some kind, a knife or a garotte, that would have left visible marks on the victim. Marks that would have announced to the world "This is a murder!"

Furthermore, throwing Amy down a rather short staircase (or even a long one, which wasn't the case here) seems like a highly unlikely and inefficient way of killing her - the murderer couldn't have been sure his victim would even have been seriously injured, much less died. If, on the other hand, he broke her neck himself, what was the point of then throwing her down the staircase and making it look like a possible accident? If, as you say, the whole point of the exercise was to implicate Dudley in the murder of his wife.  
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Elisabeth »
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Offline Helen_Azar

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Re: What do you think happened to Amy Robsart Dudl
« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2005, 10:55:11 AM »
Maybe they just wanted to create ambiguous circumstances under which Amy died, which would still throw suspicion on Dudley but not necessarily make it look like a murder. Maybe they felt that if they make it too obvious - bloody knife and all, the queen will know it was a set up, and they didn't want to take any chances by taking it too far. After all, if Dudley really did it, would he not try to make it look like an accident too, instead of a direct murder? There were rumors like that flying around anyway, before it happened. Also, they may have been afraid that the queen would never execute Dudley, so in a case like this it would have been "all or nothing". But if they kept it more subtle, it would still serve its purpose, no matter what, with Dudley being under suspicion for the rest of his life, and never being able to marry the queen - which after all would have been their main objective. And this is exactly how it worked out, so it seems a little too convenient in a lot of ways, unless it really was an coincidence.

To be honest, none of these scenarios make much sense, but IMO suicide is the most likely scenario, as they had originally thought, although it is still a little odd. But Amy after all did insist very adamantly to be left completely alone that day, why? Maybe she had brittle bones from her illness, as you said, and perhaps she was warned of this by her doctors, and perhaps she was very depressed and threw herself down the stairs deliberately, knowing that it would kill her...  

It's a pity that there is no way to find out what really happened.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by helenazar »