What is Yeames Saying ?
On the 8th of September 1560, Amy Robsart, wife of Robert Dudley was found dead at the bottom of the stairs at home in Oxford.
Robert Dudley, the younger son of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland was handsome and quite ambitious and was more interested in the opportunities that were offered as a member of the queens court than his young eighteen year old wife Amy Robsart. They had married on the 5th June 1550 at the royal palace of Sheen in Richmond. In the years that followed Dudley became the queens favourite and in 1558 she had bestowed on him the position of Master of the Horse, this, and the attention of the queen kept him away from Amy. Two years later, Amy sent away her servants from her house at Cumnor Place in Oxford and was later found dead at the foot of a flight of stairs with a broken neck and two wounds on her head. The coroner found that she had died from a fall downstairs; the verdict was 'misfortune' therefore an accidental death. At the time Dudley was suspected as having ordered her death.
Elizabethan murder mystery or misfortune?
What then is Yeames implying in his 1877 painting? Are the two men in the shadows responsible for her death having pushed her down the stairs? Certainly the younger man is shocked, maybe he wants to go to her aid but the older man is holding him back whilst looking for signs of movement? Or has the younger man just returned a few minutes after Amy's fall and has not yet realised that he standing with the murderer or are they both innocent of the alleged crime?
What do you think?