WHAT: FIREWORKS FOR A TUDOR QUEEN
WHY: FIREWORKS DOCUMENTARY
WHEN: WEDNESDAY 7TH MARCH 2018 – 9PM
This week sees a documentary about the love affair of the last Tudor Queen; Elizabeth I, and her childhood friend and beau, Robert Dudley’s attempts to woo her with the power of beautiful fireworks.
Elizabeth I ascended to the crown in 1558, having been recently imprisoned in the Tower of London for ‘plotting against’ the then queen, Mary Tudor. Mary had also incarcerated Dudley, whose father was beheaded for supporting the accession of Lady Jane Grey to the throne, as she believed they were both plotting to overthrow her as the rightful heir. Elizabeth remained in Bell Tower, in relative comfort from March until May 1554 when she was moved to Woodstock.
Oddly, the person who ended up preventing her execution was to be King Philip of Spain, who had recently married Mary Tudor. He was, of course, a staunch Catholic like his wife and believed that taking the life of the beloved Princess Elizabeth would be a terrible decision from a Political standpoint.
In 1558, Mary Tudor died having set the wheels in motion for Elizabeth to be crowned the Queen and her government was already in place.
One of Elizabeth’s first decisions was to offer the role of Master of Horse to her long-time friend and fellow prisoner Robert Dudley, a role which would always force him to be in close contact with her. He had taken to heart her earlier comments about never taking a husband and had married Amy Robsart, daughter of an influential farmer and landowner some years before but he kept his wife and his alleged mistress well apart. Robert Dudley spent a great deal of time in court, in fact having his rooms moved to accommodation neighbouring Elizabeth’s quarters.
Two years after Elizabeth’s accession to the throne, in 1960, Amy Rosbart, who lived in Abingdon and had only rarely seen her husband once the princess was released from the Tower, died in what was a suspected suicide, leaving the now widowed Dudley free to pursue the Queen. However, despite her obvious love for him, she was advised against being seen to do this as Dudley was also under suspicion following his wife’s death and of course, this would add fuel to the fire that being a woman, she was incapable of ruling the country.
Robert Dudley was unrelenting in his pursuit of his beloved Queen Bess and he used the power of pyrotechnics to try to win her hand.
This documentary re-enacts this display following the film-makers to the home of European fireworks in Italy and returns to the Kenilworth Castle for the display. The reality is that from the mid 16th century, the Royal Courts of Europe employed their own ‘Firemaster’ and in fact, the first major display on the Thames was in celebration of the coronation of her mother, Anne Boleyn.
Certain to be a fascinating re-enactment of the relationship and love of two people who had been friends and some say lovers for the majority of their lives.