Robert Dudley Earl of Leicester Timeline 1532-1588

Robert Dudley Earl of Leicester

Born – 24th June 1532
Died – 4th September 1588
FatherJohn Dudley (1504 – 1553)
Mother – Jane Guildford (1508 – 1555)
Spouses – m. 1550 – Amy Robsart (1532 – 1560); m. 1578 – Lettice Knollys (1543 – 1634)
Children – by Lettice Knollys – Robert Dudley (1581 – 1584)
Known to History – Favourite of Queen Elizabeth I


1532 (24th June)
Robert Dudley was born the son of John Dudley and Jane Guildford. He was the couple’s sixth child; his elder brothers Henry, Thomas, John and Ambrose and elder sister Mary had been born earlier. Thomas died as a young child.
1535 (around)
Robert’s brother Guildford Dudley was born to John Dudley and Jane Guildford.
1537 (during)
Robert’s father was created vice-admiral.
1538 (around)
Robert’s sister Katherine Dudley was born to John Dudley and Jane Guildford.
1540 (around)
Robert, like his twelve brothers and sisters was given a Protestant, humanist education. His tutors included the mathematician John Dee, diplomat Thomas Wilson and scholar Roger Ascham. They often shared lessons with King Henry VIII’s children Elizabeth and Edward. Robert was an intelligent scholar and had a preference for mathematics. He and Elizabeth shared a love of learning and became firm friends.
1544 (7th February)
Act of Succession
A new Act of Succession stipulated that Prince Edward should succeed Henry VIII to the throne with any children from his present marriage being next in line. Lady Mary and Lady Elizabeth were next.
1547 (28th January)
King Henry VIII died at Whitehall Palace in the early hours of the morning. He was succeeded by his son as King Edward VI. Edward’s maternal uncle, Edward Seymour declared himself ‘Protector of all the Realm and Dominions of the King’s Majesty’.
1547 (20th February)
Edward was crowned King of England at Westminster Abbey. After the ceremony a banquet was held in Westminster Hall.
1549 (8th July)
Kett’s Rebellion
This was a rebellion against the practice of landowners enclosing their land. Enclosure took away common land which people had relied on for centuries. Robert joined his father in helping to put down the rebellion.
1549 (Summer)
Robert met Amy Robsart, daughter and heiress of Norfolk farmer and landowner, John Robsart for the first time.
1549 (11th October)
Edward Seymour, Lord Somerset, Protector of England, was arrested by the Council on a charge of working to further his own aims rather than those of the country.
1550 (February)
Robert’s father, John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, became leader of the Council.
1550 (4th June)
Robert Dudley married Amy Robsart daughter and heiress of Norfolk farmer and landowner, John Robsart. It is unclear whether the young couple were in love or whether Robert’s father had seen an opportunity to make an advantageous marriage for his son. John Dudley gave the young couple the land of the former priory at Coxford as a wedding present. The wedding was attended by King Edward VI and his sister Lady Elizabeth.
1551 (during)
John Dudley became Duke of Northumberland. Robert took the title Lord Robert Dudley.
1551 (during)
Robert Dudley became Member of Parliament for Norfolk.
1551 (29th March)
Robert Dudley’s sister Mary married Henry Sidney at Esher, Surrey.
1552 (22nd January)
Edward Seymour was executed by beheading on Tower Hill.
1552 (April)
King Edward was taken ill with smallpox. He survived but was weakened by the disease.
1553 (February)
John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland gave Robert the manor of Hemsby in Norfolk.
1553 (Spring)
King Edward was taken ill again and it became clear that he was dying.
1553 (Spring)
Robert’s brother Guildford was engaged to Lady Jane Grey, granddaughter of Henry VIII’s younger sister, Mary. The betrothal was arranged by Robert’s father who sought to place Jane on the throne instead of Catholic Mary.
1553 (25th May)
Guildford Dudley married Lady Jane Grey at Durham House. In the same ceremony, Robert’s sister Katherine married Henry Hastings and Jane Grey’s sister, Katherine, married Lord Herbert.
1553 (June)
Devise for the Succession
Edward opposed the succession of either of his half-sisters due to their illegitimacy and Mary’s Catholicism. This document passed the succession to Lady Jane Grey, granddaughter of Henry VIII’s younger sister, Mary in the event of there being no legitimate male heir on his death.
1553 (15th June)
Edward summoned his leading councillors and made them sign a declaration to uphold the Devise for the Succession on his death.
1553 (6th July)
King Edward VI died.
1553 (10th July)
Guildford’s wife, Jane Grey was proclaimed Queen of England. She and Guildford entered the Tower of London to await their coronation.
1553 (10th July)
Henry VIII’s eldest daughter, Mary Tudor, sent a letter to the Council saying that by the terms of the Act of Succession of 1544 she was now queen. She called for their obedience and loyalty.
1553 (11th July)
Mary Tudor, left Hunsdon and rode to East Anglia where she called for support.
1553 (11th July)
On the order of his father, Robert Dudley raised a force and marched against Mary.
1553 (14th July)
The Duke of Northumberland left London at the head of a force to capture Mary Tudor. However, after he had left London the Privy Council, seeing that popular support was for Mary, decided to support Mary’s claim.
1553 (19th July)
Mary Tudor, was proclaimed Queen.
1553 (19th July)
Jane and her husband were arrested on a charge of treason. Guildford was imprisoned in the Bell Tower while Jane was imprisoned in the Gentleman Gaoler’s Quarters of the Tower of London.
1553 (23rd July)
Robert, his father and brothers surrendered at Cambridge. They were imprisoned in the Tower of London.
1553 (18th August)
Robert, his father and brothers were charged and found guilty of treason. The verdict meant that their lands were forfeited to the crown.
1553 (8th August)
King Edward VI was buried in the Henry VII Lady Chapel at Westminster Abbey.
1553 (22nd August)
John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, was executed.
1553 (13th November)
Jane Grey was tried for high treason. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to death. The date of her execution was not set because Mary believed that she and her husband were innocent parties in a plot by Northumberland to take control of the throne and she remained imprisoned in the Gentleman Gaoler’s Quarters of the Tower of London.
1554 (February)
Wyatt’s Rebellion
Thomas Wyatt the younger organised a rebellion against Queen Mary’s plans to marry King Philip of Spain. He was supported by Jane’s father, the duke of Suffolk. The rebellion was suppressed but Mary decide she had no choice but to execute Jane and Guildford Dudley to prevent them becoming a focus for further anti-Catholic rebellions.
1554 (18th March)
Lady Elizabeth was arrested and questioned regarding involvement in Wyatt’s rebellion. Although there was no evidence of her involvement she was imprisoned in the Tower. It is not known whether or not Elizabeth and Dudley met during their time in the Tower but they had continued to be friends.
1554 (19th May)
Elizabeth was moved from the Tower of London and placed under house arrest at Woodstock.
1554 (Autumn)
Robert and his brothers were released from the Tower of London.
1554 (21st October)
Robert’s brother, John died at Penshurst Place, Kent.
1554 (December)
Robert and Ambrose Dudley took part in a tournament to celebrate friendship between England and Spain. Their presence is likely due to their brother-in-law, Philip Sidney, having courted the friendship of the Spanish nobles at court.
1555 (15th January)
Robert’s mother, Jane, died.
1557 (January)
Robert and Amy Dudley had some of their lands restored to them.
1557 (during)
Robert and his brothers Ambrose and Henry joined the army of Philip II of Spain.
1557 (10th August)
Battle of St Quentin
The Dudley brothers took part in this Battle against France. Henry Dudley was killed when he was hit by a cannonball.
1558 (6th November)
Mary I named Elizabeth as her successor.
1558 (17th November)
Elizabeth became Queen of England, Ireland and Wales after Mary died.
1558 (18th November)
Dudley rode to Hatfield House where he saw Elizabeth presented with the Great Seal. He was appointed Master of the Horse on the same day. The post brought him into daily contact with the Queen and his apartments at court were next to hers. The pair became very close.
1558 (late November)
Robert’s sister, Mary Sidney, became a Gentlewoman of the Privy Chamber.
1559 (15th January)
Elizabeth was crowned Queen Elizabeth I at Westminster Abbey by Owen Oglethorpe, Bishop of Carlisle. Robert attended the ceremony.
1559 (Easter)
Robert Dudley visited his wife Amy and they spent four days together.
1559 (April)
Robert Dudley was made a Knight of the Garter and a privy councillor.
1559 (Summer)
Rumours were circulated at court that Robert Dudley was more than a friend to the Queen. This was fuelled by the fact that Elizabeth had turned down a proposal from Philip II of Spain and refused to consider marriage, while Dudley’s wife Amy was not invited to court. Dudley feared that his opponents would try to assassinate him and took to wearing chain mail under his clothes.
1560 (8th September)
Amy Dudley was found dead at her Cumnor Place residence. It appeared that she had fallen down the stairs. It was soon rumoured that Robert had orchestrated her murder to be free to marry the queen. An independent inquiry concluded that her death was an accident.
1561 (during)
Dudley suggested to Elizabeth that it might be best if he went abroad for a while to let the rumours die down. However, Elizabeth would not allow him to leave.
1562 (October)
Queen Elizabeth was taken ill with smallpox. She determined that Robert Dudley should become Protector of the Realm if she should die.
1563 (during)
Queen Elizabeth gave Dudley Kenilworth Castle as a gift.
1563 (during)
Elizabeth suggested that Robert could marry Mary Queen of Scots, who had returned to Scotland from France after her husband, the dauphin had died. However neither were interested in making the match.
1564 (September)
Robert was created Earl of Leicester.
1570 (October)
Robert Dudley purchased Paget Place in London. He renamed it Leicester House.
1571 (September)
Dudley began a romantic relationship with Lady Sheffield.
1574 (7th August)
A son, Robert, was born to Dudley and Lady Douglas Sheffield. Lady Sheffield later claimed that she and Dudley had secretly married.
1575 (during)
Robert Dudley invited Queen Elizabeth to Kenilworth Castle. During her visit he laid on lavish entertainments and banquets. It is believed that he hoped she would agree to marry him, but he was to be disappointed.
1578 (during)
Robert Dudley secretly married Lettice Knollys, daughter of Francis Knollys, widow of Walter Devereux at Wansted Hall, north London.
1579 (during)
Elizabeth learned of Robert Dudley’s marriage and was not happy. She banished Lettice from court.
1581 (June)
A son, Robert was born to Dudley and Lettice Knollys.
1584 (19th July)
Robert’s son, Robert, who had been in poor health, died.
1585 (9th December)
Elizabeth sent Dudley, at the head of the army, to support the Netherlands against Spain. However, he proved incompetent and did not follow orders.
1586 (9th August)
Robert’s sister, Mary, died.
1587 (during)
Robert Dudley was recalled to England. He was created Lord Steward.
1588 (July)
Queen Elizabeth appointed Dudley lieutenant general of the army that had been raised against the impending invasion by the Spanish Armada.
1588 (8th August)
Robert Dudley was by Elizabeth’s side when she made her famous speech to the troops at Tilbury Docks.
1588 (4th September)
Robert Dudley died at Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire. It is believed that he had cancer of the stomach or died of malaria.


Published Apr 28, 2020 @ 4:02 pm – Updated – [last-modified]

Harvard Reference for this page:

Heather Y Wheeler. (2020). Robert Dudley Earl of Leicester 1532 – 1588. Last accessed [date]

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