30 July 2018

Book review ~ Amy Robsart: A Life and Its End, by Christine Hartweg


Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

I've always been intrigued by the mystery of Amy Robsart, the unfortunate wife of Queen Elizabeth I's alleged lover, Robert Dudley, who died after apparently falling down a short flight of stairs in September 1560. Amy Dudley's death caused a scandal across half of Europe, yet although Robert Dudley was widely suspected, the truth of what happened is debated to this day.

This fascinating book by Dudley specialist Christine Hartweg explores Amy's death from every conceivable angle. Every surviving letter and document is analysed in the context of the time - and contrasted with interesting use of modern clinical and statistical evidence about on such falls. 

I was unaware that the coroner's report was wrongly filed under 1561 instead of 1560 and was only discovered by chance in 2008 by Steven Gunn, who was studying accidental Tudor deaths. The last sentence states (in Latin) that 'Lady Amy in the manner and form aforesaid by misfortune came to her death and not otherwise.'

There is also a full exploration of the many myths and stories about her over the centuries, with a discussion of the possible motives of their authors. These range from scheming foreign ambassadors to Dudley's many enemies and Sir Walter Scott's historical novel Kenilworth (published in 1821).

The Death of Amy Robsart, as imagined by
Victorian artist William Frederick Yeames

Did Amy fall and break her neck by accident? Was it suicide? or could she have been pushed or poisoned? If she was murdered, who might have been responsible? Has her death changed the course of English history? You will have to read the book and draw your own conclusion. Highly recommended.

Tony Riches
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About the Author

Christine Hartweg lives in Berlin and was born in South America in 1972. She has researched the Dudley family of Tudor England since 2008 and has advised the BBC and other TV channels. Christine runs the specialist blog www.allthingsrobertdudley.wordpress.com and you can find her on Twitter @BuffHistory 

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