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Death and the Virgin Queen: Elizabeth I and the Dark Scandal That Rocked the Throne
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Death and the Virgin Queen: Elizabeth I and the Dark Scandal That Rocked the Throne

3.53  ·  Rating Details  ·  333 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews
In the tradition of Alison Weir's New York Times bestselling Mary, Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord Darnley, comes the most sensational crime story of Tudor England.

On the morning of September 8, 1560, at the isolated manor of Cunmor place, the body of a young woman was found at the bottom of a staircase, her neck broken. But this was no ordinary death. Amy Robsa
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Paperback, 456 pages
Published March 13th 2012 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published January 1st 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,112)
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Orsolya
The death of Amy Robsart (wife of Robert Dudley) is one of my favorite historical mysteries; having always felt a connection to Amy. This, along with enjoying Chris Skidmore’s work, “Edward VI”, drew me to “Death and the Virgin Queen: Elizabeth I and the Dark Scandal that Rocked the Throne”.

A few choice words can be used to describe “Death and the Virgin Queen”: dry, heavy, and not earth-shattering are a few of them. The first 200 pages of “Death and the Virgin Queen” focus on setting the scene
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Kristin
Mar 16, 2011 Kristin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bio, history, nf, read-in-2011
Many negative reviews of this book talk about inaccuracy and repetitiveness. The specific inaccuracies I've seen mentioned seem to have been corrected between whatever earlier edition was reviewed and the edition I read. And while I found the book to be repetitive at times, I thought the repetition served the dual purpose of reinforcing concepts and illustrating different points that came up in different sections, so it was used effectively. Having commented on other people's opinions, here's mi ...more
Pete daPixie
Feb 02, 2011 Pete daPixie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-tudor
God's legs! Methinks herein dothe moche seem thereof a tragedie plainelie founde to liken that of Princess Diana in our own tymes. What saie thy goode Master Skidmore of this sorie matter that toucheth thy goode Lord of Leicester and the mysfortune of his Lady Amee. How so divers thinges as I learne doth appeare plainelie to suspecte the worse of her Majestie, our quene Ladye Elizabeth.

Skidmore's second work of Tudor history, published 2010. 'Death and the Virgin' is just a fantastic intricate i
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Kate F
Dec 04, 2013 Kate F rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Having an interest in the Tudor period and voraciously reading any books that are published on the period I was really looking forward to this book - especially given the reviews that it attracted. Sadly, I have been left underwhelmed by it and wondering what the reviewers were reading.

Having read it assiduously all that has remained with me is the glaring factual errors in the text and the poor proof-reading that seems to be endemic in much of the publishing world today. In fact, books that ha
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V.E. Lynne
Feb 19, 2016 V.E. Lynne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On 8 September 1560 Amy Robsart, the wife of leading Elizabethan courtier Robert Dudley, was found dead at the bottom of a staircase at Cumnor Place in Oxfordshire, her neck apparently broken. The coroner's jury brought in a verdict of accidental death but others were not so sure and stories that the neglected Lady Dudley had been murdered soon abounded. The passing centuries have only added to the intrigue and this book, 'Death and the Virgin', is merely the latest to try and solve the mystery ...more
Margaret
Feb 14, 2011 Margaret rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Dull and repetitive.

I am not an historian but in a couple of places he takes a tiny inconclusive piece of data, adds a wild supposition and then uses this to back up some point he is making. Which makes me very sceptical about anything else he makes 'educated' guesses about.

The book jumps about all over the place in the time frame covered and there is no appendix or other reference section with known dates for the lay reader to track events against.

He seems to want to be taken seriously as an h
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Becky
As you can tell from the books that I've read, that I'm a bit of a Tudor history buff. This book was intriguing, in that, it brought several different suspects in the death of Amy Robsart, be them people or disease. After reading this book, to me, there was no dramatic evidence to support either of these, so I can imagine, Amy's death is still remains a bit of a mystery. The most convincing cause of her demise is the least dramatic - that it was an accident and no misdeeds ever took place. Poor ...more
Amy Bruno
Having long been fascinated by the mysterious death of Amy Robsart and after reading the varied reviews, both positive and negative, of Chris Skidmore’s Death and the Virgin Queen I just had to pick it up and check it out for myself. What’s that saying about curiosity again?! Well, it didn’t kill me, but it sure did almost bore me to death!

Death and the Virgin Queen attempts to reconstruct the time leading up to and the events on the day that Amy Robsart, wife to Elizabeth’s favorite Robert Dudl
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Christie
I had been looking forward to this book for awhile ever since I ran across it in a library book sale. It seemed like a very interesting book. I was sadly disappointed by the book though. Don't get me wrong I learned quite a bit from this book, it just didn't deliver on its main point of having new information in the death of Robert Dudley's wife, Amy Robsart (very little of the book actually focuses on the death in question). It is however a fascinating read if you want to learn more about Dudle ...more
Sallee
This book deals with the mysterious death of Amy Robsart, wife of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, Queen Elizabeth's much beloved and favorite courtier. The gossip of the day was that Dudley was involved in the death of his wife. With her no longer living, that left him free to marry Elizabeth which was his greatest wish. This did not happen and the book covers the politics of that time with many suitors for Elizabeth's hand. Interspersed in this was material relating to Amy Robsart's death. Mu ...more
C.S. Burrough
Jul 16, 2014 C.S. Burrough rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History readers
Having consumed many Elizabeth I biographies I was not disappointed with this addition to my shelf.

This book focusses on the lead up to, circumstances surrounding and long term consequences of one event quite early into a long reign: the suspicious death of Amy Dudley, wife of the queen's favourite.

There are so many other factors and events defining Elizabeth I's long reign than this one unsolved mystery. But for those seeking elaboration on why Elizabeth remained the 'Virgin Queen', married onl
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Christine
Apr 28, 2015 Christine rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, tudors
This book presents the transcript of the coroner's report of Robert Dudley's wife's death in 1560, believed lost for centuries, but finally found by Dr. Steven Gunn in The Natinonal Archives (England). It says that Amy Robsart had a broken neck and two wounds at unspecified locations on her head, one of which would have involved some form of skull fracture. Since such injuries are not uncommon in serious and fatal stair falls, and since the report is a 16th century piece of paper and not the act ...more
Petra
Jul 28, 2013 Petra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I came into this book knowing almost nothing about Elizabeth’s reign. I’ve recently read The Lady Elizabeth, which got me wondering about her reign and this book was in the library so it seemed like the place to start.
This book focusses very much on the relationship between Elizabeth and Robert Dudley. Now I’m very curious: were they in love or was Elizabeth using him as a guard/foil to keep other suitors at bay? Was she teasing with him to keep him at her side?
Elizabeth had an unconventional u
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Cris
Scandal? Maybe. But I think 'scandal that rocked the Throne' was overstating things a bit. Frankly I think the book was too long for what Skidmore actually had to say about 'the scandal'. A fair amount of the book was, I think, supposed to be background and context but felt more like unnecessary filler. Granted I'm familiar with Queen Elizabeth's life and reign, so maybe someone who'd never heard of the Tudors would find the information helpful.

While the mystery surrounding Amy Dudley's death wa
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Katie
Jan 08, 2013 Katie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Note: this should NOT be read by people who don't already know how they feel about Elizabethan history and have at least a basic knowledge of it to start with. The second you can probably get around because this gives a very detailed account of events leading up to Amy's death as well as what happens immediately afterwards, but this is NOT for someone just wanting to dip their toes into history surrounding Queen Elizabeth I. You will more than likely be too bored by this. For people who DO alrea ...more
Louise
The title implies this book is about the mysterious death of Amy Dudley, but there are only about 50 pages on it. While the focus on the book is elsewhere, the author, Chris Skidmore, does help the reader interpret what little is known of Amy, her teen age marriage (unusual for its day), her few surviving letters, her moving from host family to host family, and the reports of an illness, from the few scraps of surviving materials.

Also, the author heightens your awareness of the impact of Amy's s
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Judi Moore
Aug 07, 2014 Judi Moore rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bit of a one-trick pony this. If you're into the Elizabethan era and were hoping for a genuine new insight into what, so conveniently, happened to Robert Dudley's wife there is new material, but there's a lot of rehashing too. If you're new to the Elizabethans then it's pretty much all here, and concisely told. There's serious scholarship in this book. Unfortunately this often manifests itself as a list of what people paid for things, which quickly palls: obviously invoices survive better than l ...more
Denise
Oct 17, 2010 Denise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lot of research has gone into this factual book. The author uses numeorus primary sources to present a balanced account of the effect that the death of Dudley's first wife had on Elizabeth I's attitude to marriage.

There is a lot of detail and at times it can seem like wading through treacle to get to the core of the book. However, it is worth persevering. I learnt a great deal more about this period of history despite having studied the subject to degree level!

Fascinating.
Jennifer
Unlike many books of this sort, the detailed account of the death of the Earl of Leicester's wife doesn't feel padded or stretched out. And the author does get ahold of some new information--though not enough to resolve the case. Made me think that the problem with new theories on a 500-year old mystery is that they raise more questions than they answer. Still, an interesting and well-written book.
Brigitte
May 28, 2011 Brigitte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anyone who's a fan of Queen Elizabeth I should pick up this book. It's a good look at the death of Robert Dudley's wife, Amy, who was found at the bottom of a staircase with a broken neck. If not for this "accident?" would Elizabeth have married Dudley? The argument continues...
Laura
Jul 07, 2015 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was pretty accessible for an academic book, though I thought it's scope could have been more narrow. The author focuses on the entire Leicester/Queen relationship - which to a degree, you have to - but didn't focus as much on the murder as I would have liked. That relationship has been the subject of many books on its own - I picked this up because I was curious about theories into Robsart's death. Which he does cover, but doesn't give them the space I wish he had.

So, this is an interesting
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Kara
Mar 28, 2011 Kara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tudor-fact

Its an interesting topic, but, wow Skidmore repeats himself a lot. Padding much?
Kate
This might have made a good feature article but was really pushing it as a book. 95% of the information therein was tangentially related to the title at best, and has been covered again and again in other books. The remaining 5% was based on thin documentation (which is maybe why there aren't many books on this particular incident) and a lot of speculation. Not satisfying. As a reader, I was both appreciative of and frustrated by the author's refusal to choose a motive/angle; detachment makes fo ...more
Julie
Jun 12, 2014 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, non-fiction, tudor
This book attempts to shed light on the mysterious death of Amy Robsart, the first wife of Lord Robert Dudley, Queen Elizabeth’s favorite courtier. Skidmore has certainly done his due diligence in researching the matter and draws upon a multitude of historical documents to present his case. But to understand the circumstances of Amy’s death, the reader must fully understand the breadth of the relationship between Robert and Elizabeth. A majority of the book focuses on the dynamic of the pair and ...more
Caroline
The mysterious death of Amy Robsart, wife of Queen Elizabeth's favourite Robert Dudley, has long been one of the enduring mysteries of English history - was it an accident? was it suicide? was it murder? In this engaging book, half-mystery, half-history, Chris Skidmore sets out not so much to solve the mystery (at this remove in history, such a thing would be impossible) as to explore the various avenues and options and set the event in its proper context.

As a result of the latter, poor Amy feat
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Emmanuel Gustin
I enjoyed reading this book, but in the end I was slighly dissatisfied. The death of Amy Robsart is a historical fait-divers of lasting interest, but it is also something about which we will never learn the full truth: It would be unfair to blame the author for that.
The good news is that Skidmore's book profits from the rediscovery of the original report of the inquest into Amy's death, as well as a lot of private correspondence and literature of the period. But he doesn't really succeed in draw
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Sandra Strange
I really thought the book would be about the death of Queen Elizabeth I. However, it's really about something much more intriguing--the mysterious death of the wife of Robert Dudley, probably Elizabeth's true love. The historian has found and used all kinds of newly discovered contemporary sources to weave this interesting history, what my students call a "Renaissance soap opera" of international intrigue, courtiers' jealousy, competing religious beliefs, ambition and ruthlessness that swirl aro ...more
Christine Rogers
Jun 14, 2013 Christine Rogers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tudor-history
I was really pleased with this book and enjoyed reading it. It is not for the feint of heart as it does have a lot of facts and figures. I actually quite enjoyed the reports on the household accounts and found it really informative. If you already are familiar with this time period and these circumstances you will not learn much in the way of new information, but you might add a few layers of detail to what you already know. There is no big revelation on the death of Amy Dudley, and only a coupl ...more
Christine Rogers
May 19, 2013 Christine Rogers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tudor-history
I was really pleased with this book and enjoyed reading it. It is not for the feint of heart as it does have a lot of facts and figures. I actually quite enjoyed the reports on the household accounts and found it really informative. If you already are familiar with this time period and these circumstances you will not learn much in the way of new information, but you might add a few layers of detail to what you already know. There is no big revelation on the death of Amy Dudley, and only a coupl ...more
Leslie
Jan 31, 2012 Leslie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Skidmore's exploration of the scandal surrounding Queen Elizabeth I, Lord Robert Dudley, and the death of his wife Amy Robsart is thorough - but not thoroughly entertaining. While an excellent work of history, including new sources and reproductions of original letters, etc., Death and the Virgin Queen focuses more on the relationship between Her Majesty and Dudley, and the ongoing machinations surrounding the Queen's potential wedding and less on Robsart herself. Edited somewhat more, this wou ...more
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