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Courtship & Love

Shakespeare for Kids

Elizabeth's Suitors


Elizabeth had many suitors.


Most were foreign royalty. They included Francis duc d'Alencon from France, Philip of Spain, and Eric of Sweden.

Elizabeth was linked with two Englishmen.


The first was Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester. His portrait, at right, is from the Bishops' Bible. Although they were close friends, Elizabeth would not marry him. When he died, Elizabeth mourned in privacy for many days.

The second was Leicester's stepson, Robert Devereux, earl of Essex. Elizabeth and Essex spent a lot of time together at court, but when he led a plot against the throne, she ordered him to be beheaded.


Elizabeth called Leicester her "Eyes." In this letter to her, he drew eyes above his signature. Can you find them?


Franz Hogenberg. Engraved portrait of Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester. In The holie Bible. London, 1568

Robert Dudley. Autograph letter signed to Queen Elizabeth about the Spanish Armada. Manuscript, 3 August 1588 (Detail)

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