On September 4, 1588 Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester died.
|Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester|
Queen Elizabeth was very close to him, and considered him her "favourite."
|Queen Elizabeth with Leicester|
Leicester was a true renaissance man -- he had his own company of actors, which would later include Will Kemp, who later joined Shakespeare to create such roles as Falstaff.
When Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex died under suspicious circumstances, his widow married Leicester. There were rumors they had been having an affair, even before Essex's death.
He helped raise her son Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex.
|Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex|
Was her choice of the name Robert a clue to the real father of the boy?
Leicester had been Master of the Horse. When he died, the Queen made Essex Master of the Horse.
Leicester House, his home on the Strand in London, became Essex House.
The Queen transfered Leicester's sweet wine monopoly to Essex, so he could have a good source of income.
Whatever power Leicester had in her court was now Essex's.
Essex became her new "favourite."
|Leicester, by Hilliard|
I more fully explore the meaning of these relationships, and the significance they had for Shakespeare, in my version of Hamlet.
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