Friday, September 4, 2015

On This Day in Elizabethan History: The Death of Elizabeth's Love, The Earl of Leicester

"His last letter", in the National Archives in England. Picture acquired through Wikimedia Commons. Image public domain.

On this day in 1588, Queen Elizabeth I's longtime love and confidante, the man she called a "personage so dear unto us" in a letter to the Earl of Shrewsbury, Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester, died. Leicester had been ill for quite some time, and probably had been suffering from stomach cancer. Elizabeth was, by all accounts, devastated by his death, and kept the final letter he sent to her by her bed until her own death, where it was discovered in 1603. On it she had written, "His Last Letter". To learn more about how Elizabeth dealt with the passing of her favorite, please read our feature-length BeingBess article on the topic of Leicester's death. Also, for further reading on the complex relationship of Elizabeth and Leicester, we recommend the definitive dual biography 'Elizabeth & Leicester: Power, Passion, Politics', by historian Sarah Gristwood.