Leicester, Robert Dudley, earl of


Leicester, Robert Dudley, earl of

biographical name

(born June 24, 1532/33—died Sept. 4, 1588, Cornbury, Oxfordshire, Eng.) English courtier and favourite of Elizabeth I. Imprisoned in 1553 for aiding the attempt by his father, the duke of Northumberland, to put Lady Jane Grey on the throne, he was released in 1554. Handsome and ambitious, he won Elizabeth's affection upon her accession (1558) and was made a privy councillor in 1559. When his wife died in 1560, it was rumoured that he had murdered her in order to marry Elizabeth. He became an active suitor of Elizabeth; though he failed to win the queen's hand, they remained close friends. In 1585 he was sent in command of an English force to assist the Netherlands in its revolt against Spain; he proved incompetent and was recalled (1587).

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