Tag Archives: Sir Robert Dudley

Mary Queen of Scots executes besotted suitor…

mary queen of scots aged 18Mary was widowed at just eighteen-years-old when her first husband, King Francois II of France died as the result of an abscess developing from an ear infection.  In order to continue the Stuart dynasty she needed to remarry.  Ultimately this led to arguments about the Crown Matrimonial – i.e. would her husband be allowed to rule if she died but in the short term there was the small matter of possible candidates for the job.

don carlosDon Carlos, son of Philip II of Spain had been mentioned whilst she was still in France. Aside from the fact that the young man was Philip’s heir there was also the issue of his mental health.  Ultimately he would be locked up by his father and die in 1568 after six months in a small room on his own. Mary Queen of Scots uncle, the Cardinal of Lorraine was less concerned about the sanity of Don Carlos than the power that the marriage would give to Philip II.

charles of austriaCharles, Archduke of Austria was identified as a suitable heir but Mary wasn’t keen. Charles would go on to negotiate for Elizabeth I’s hand.

 

Elizabeth I helpfully suggested a match that she felt might work – Sir Robert Dudley, her master of horse and alleged lover – not to mention participant in yet another conspiracy theory i.e. the deathRobert_Dudley_Leicester.jpg of his wife Amy Robsart in Abingdon in suspicious circumstances. Historians think that Amy had cancer but at the time her fall down some stairs looked rather a lot like the removal of one wife to make way for one with a crown. Elizabeth possibly thought that if Mary accepted Dudley that she could trust him to work in England’s interests or else she was being deliberately provocative. At any rate Dudley became the Earl of Leicester in a bid to be made to look more appealing.

And then there was Pierre de Chatelard or Chastelard.  He was a young french poet.  Essentially Pierre fell in love with the queen and she failed to spot that it wasn’t love of the courtly kind and consequentially encouraged him. This sounds slightly cruel but the concept of courtly love was that a man should express devotion to a woman beyond his reach – the whole thing reached new heights in the court of Elizabeth – think of Spencer’s Fairie Queen for example. In Scotland the misunderstanding between affectation of passion and passion itself went badly awry.  Pierre hid in Mary’s bedroom at Holyrood.  Fortunately he was discovered by Mary’s servants and booted out.  He was told to leave Scotland.

Pierre agreed that it was probably best if he returned to France – except he didn’t.  He followed Mary on a progress and at Rossend Castle, Pierre managed to get into her bedroom once more. On this occasion the queen was in situ and in a state of undress. Pierre accosted the queen and there was rather a lot of shouting and screaming, followed by the arrival of Lord Moray (James Stewart Mary’s illegitimate half-brother) who removed the offending frenchman, arresting him and locking him up in one of the castle’s dungeons.

Mary was so outraged by proceedings that she felt that de Chatelard should have been killed on the spot but Moray insisted that the poet be given a trial and executed in the market place at St Andrews which was where the court travelled from Rossend.

pierre de chastelard.jpg

The National Portrait Gallery collection contains the above image which dates from 1830 depicting the lovelorn de Chatelard playing the lute for Mary.

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Nazareth Paget

nazareth newtonNazareth Newton was the daughter of Sir John Newton and a cousin to Sir Robert Dudley.  Her first marriage was to Sir Thomas Southwell of Woodrising in Norfolk.  The family was noted for its catholicism but this didn’t prevent the widowed Nazareth from serving Elizabeth I.

The link to Robert Dudley is a reminder that much of the Tudor court were related to one another somewhere along the line.  Nazareth’s web of unexpected connections extends to another generation.  One of her daughters with Southwell was called Elizabeth.  She became the mistress of the Earl of Essex and gave birth to his illegitimate son Walter Devereux.

In 1570 Nazareth married Sir Thomas Paget, the Third Baron Paget.  His father was Sir William Paget – Henry VIII’s close adviser and it was perhaps because of the link with the Dudleys that Nazareth married Paget or perhaps they met at court.  In any event Nazareth’s second marriage was a disaster.  She was not permitted to keep any servants from her home in Woodrising and her new husband grew steadily more firm in his recusancy to the extent that he organised a sermon by the Jesuit Edmund Campion and was forced to take a course in the doctrine of the Church of England whilst under house arrest in Windsor.  It did no good.  Paget attempted to avoid Protestant Church services and his servants interrupted an easter service.  His career was ruined.  His home life was even worse.  In the end he wrote to Cecil explaining that he and his wife were parting because, in his words, of the ‘continual jars.’

David McKeen is less sympathetic to Nazareth as this quote shows:

Thomas Paget, son of the protector of Cobham’s youth, a cultivated nobleman in whose house William Byrd found employment and whose loss to England and “theCommonwealth of Learning” even that notable defender of the Elizabethan settlement William Camden deeply deplored, was informed against by his strident wife Nazareth Newton, whose perpetual demands had driven them to separate despite Burghley’s efforts
to reconcile them and Paget’s reluctance to leave the woman he so self-destructively loved. Paget felt that he had a reason to remain in England so long as there was hope of regaining his wife, but when she died in 1583 he too fled abroad.

From McKeen, David, A Memory of Honour; The Life of William Brooke,
Lord Cobham (Salzburg: Institut fur Anglistik und Amerikanistik, 1986), p. 380:

Thomas was stripped of his title and eventually gained a pension from Philip II of Spain.  The Duke of Parma consulted with him about the proposed Armada invasion of 1588.

Nazareth’s brother-in-law Charles was also a Catholic but his involvement with European intrigues was rather more complicated.

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