Chartley Castle, Staffordshire, England
|Died||7 July 1607 (aged 44)|
|Spouse(s)|| Robert Rich, 3rd Baron Rich |
Charles Blount, 1st Earl of Devonshire
|Issue|| Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of Warwick |
Henry Rich, 1st Earl of Holland
Sir Charles Rich
Mountjoy Blount, 1st Earl of Newport
|Father||Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex|
Penelope Rich, Lady Rich, later styled Penelope Blount (néeDevereux; January 1563– 7 July 1607) was an English court office holder. She served as lady-in-waiting to the English queen Anne of Denmark. She was the sister of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, and is traditionally thought to be the inspiration for "Stella" of Sir Philip Sidney's Astrophel and Stella sonnet sequence (published posthumously in 1591). She married Robert Rich, 3rd Baron Rich (later 1st Earl of Warwick) and had a public liaison with Charles Blount, Baron Mountjoy, whom she married in an unlicensed ceremony following her divorce from Rich. She died in 1607.
Born Penelope Devereux at Chartley Castle in Staffordshire, she was the elder daughter of Walter Devereux, 2nd Viscount Hereford, later 1st Earl of Essex and Lettice Knollys, daughter of Sir Francis Knollys and Catherine Carey, and sister of William Knollys, later 1st Earl of Banbury. Catherine Carey was the daughter of Lady Mary Boleyn by either her husband Sir William Carey, Gentleman of the Privy Chamber, or her lover King Henry VIII.
Her father was created Earl of Essex in 1572. Penelope was a child of fourteen when Sir Philip Sidney accompanied her distant cousin Queen Elizabeth I on a visit to Lady Essex in 1575, on her way from Kenilworth, and must have been frequently thrown into the society of Sidney, in consequence of the many ties between the two families. Essex died in Dublin in September 1576. He had sent a message to Philip Sidney from his death-bed expressing his desire that he should marry his daughter, and later his secretary wrote to the young man's father, Sir Henry Sidney, in words which seem to point to the existence of a very definite understanding.
Penelope's brother, Robert, Viscount Hereford, inherited the Earldom of Essex on their father's death in 1576, and Penelope, her sister Dorothy, and younger brother Walter were entrusted to the guardianship of their kinsman Henry Hastings, 3rd Earl of Huntingdon.In 1578 their widowed mother married the Queen's favourite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. Perhaps the marriage of Lady Essex with the earl of Leicester, which destroyed Philip Sidney's prospects as his uncle Leicester's heir, had something to do with the breaking off of the proposed match with Penelope.
In January 1581, she arrived at court accompanied by her guardian's wife, Catherine, Countess of Huntingdon, who was Leicester's sister and Sidney's aunt.In March 1581 Huntingdon as her guardian secured the queen's assent through Lord Burghley, Master of the Court of Wards, for her marriage with Robert Rich, 3rd Baron Rich (later 1st Earl of Warwick). Penelope is said to have protested in vain against the alliance with Rich.
Penelope's children by Robert Rich were:
Penelope Rich was considered one of the beauties of Elizabeth's court. She was golden-haired with dark eyes, a gifted singer and dancer, fluent in French, Italian, and Spanish.
Penelope is traditionally thought to have inspired Philip Sidney's sonnet sequence Astrophel and Stella (sometimes spelt Astrophil and Stella). Likely composed in the 1580s, it is the first of the famous English sonnet sequences, and contains 108 sonnets and 11 songs. Many of the poems were circulated in manuscript form before the first edition was printed by Thomas Newman in 1591, five years after Sidney's death.They were set by the French lutenist Charles Tessier and published in London in 1597.
Whether Sidney fell passionately in love with Penelope in the years between her arrival at court in 1581 and his own marriage in 1583, or whether the "Stella" sonnets were courtly amusements reflecting fashionable poetic conceits may never be known. In her essay "Sidney, Stella, and Lady Rich", Katherine Duncan-Jones writes:
No one since 1935 has seriously doubted that Sidney intended the first readers of Astropil and Stella, whoever they may have been, to link "Stella" with Lady Rich. The exact nature of Sidney's relationship with the famous beauty is another and much more ticklish matter ..."
Sidney died of wounds received at the Battle of Zutphen in 1586. In 1590, Penelope's brother Essex married Sidney's widow Frances, daughter of Sir Francis Walsingham, and Lady Rich was much cultivated by poets and musicians during her brother's ascendancy at court in the 1590s.Poet Richard Barnfield dedicated The Affectionate Shepherd, his first work, which was published anonymously in November 1594, to Penelope Rich. Bartholomew Yong dedicated his translation of Jorge de Montemayor's Diana (1598) to her; and sonnets are addressed to her by John Davies of Hereford.
In 1586 she was a godmother to the daughter of Nicholas Hilliard, the queen's miniaturist. Hilliard is known to have painted two miniatures of Lady Rich, in 1589 and 1590 for her brother, the Earl of Essex. He sent one to James VI of Scotland (later James I of England), and the poet Henry Constable wrote a sonnet about the portrait. Essex gave the second miniature to the French ambassador for Henry IV.A miniature in the Royal Collection (above) may be one of these. Anne of Denmark asked for portraits of the Earl of Essex and Lady Rich in December 1595.
Charles Tessier dedicated his book of part-songs in French and Italian, Le premier livre de chansons, to "Madame Riche", commending (in Italian) her musical judgement,and John Dowland composed "My Lady Rich's Galliard" in her honour.
Penelope's marriage to Rich was unhappy, and by 1595 she had begun a secret affair with Charles Blount, Baron Mountjoy. Lord Rich took no action during the lifetime of Penelope's brother, the powerful Earl of Essex, who became the ageing Queen's favourite in the years after the death of Leicester in 1588.
But Penelope was tainted by association with her brother's plotting. Essex shocked many people, after the failure of his rebellion, by denouncing her as a traitor, and after his execution for treason in 1601, Lord Rich had Penelope and her children by Mountjoy cast out. Mountjoy, like Penelope, had been implicated in the Essex rebellion, but the Queen, who wished to show as much clemency as possible to the rebels, took no action against either of them. Lady Rich moved in with her lover, and the couple began a very public relationship. Mountjoy was created Earl of Devonshire on the accession of James I, and Lady Rich was in high favour at court.
She was among the ladies who rode north to Berwick-upon-Tweed to meet Anne of Denmark in May 1603 and escorted the new queen on her entry to London.She served Anne as a Lady of the Bedchamber. She was one of the ladies in waiting "taken out" from the audience to dance during The Masque of Indian and China Knights at Hampton Court on 1 January 1604. She danced as the nymph Ocyte in Ben Jonson's Masque of Blackness on Twelfth Night 1605.
In 1605, Rich sued for a divorce, and Penelope wanted to marry Blount and legitimise their children. In the divorce proceedings, she publicly admitted to adultery. The divorce was granted, but the requests to remarry and legitimise her children were refused. She married Blount in a private ceremony conducted by his chaplain, William Laud, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury, on 26 December 1605 at Wanstead House in London. This proceeding, carried out in defiance of canon law, was followed by the disgrace of both parties, who were banished from court by King James. The couple continued to live together as husband and wife with their children until his death a few months later. Blount died on 3 April 1606and Penelope on 7 July 1607.
Penelope's illegitimate children acknowledged by Charles Blount were:
Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, KG, PC was an English nobleman and a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I. Politically ambitious, and a committed general, he was placed under house arrest following a poor campaign in Ireland during the Nine Years' War in 1599. In 1601, he led an abortive coup d'état against the government of Elizabeth I and was executed for treason.
Elizabeth R is a BBC television drama serial of six 85-minute plays starring Glenda Jackson as Queen Elizabeth I of England. It was first broadcast on BBC2 from February to March 1971, through the ABC in Australia and broadcast in America on PBS's Masterpiece Theatre. The series has been repeated several times, most recently from 17 February 2021, by BBC Four to celebrate the show's fiftieth anniversary.
Sir Philip Sidney was an English poet, courtier, scholar and soldier who is remembered as one of the most prominent figures of the Elizabethan age. His works include a sonnet sequence, Astrophel and Stella, a treatise, The Defence of Poesy and a pastoral romance, The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia.
Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex, KG, was an English nobleman and general. From 1573 until his death he fought in Ireland in connection with the Plantations of Ireland, most notably the Rathlin Island massacre. He was the father of Robert, 2nd Earl of Essex, who was Elizabeth I's favourite during her later years.
Charles Blount, 1st Earl of Devonshire, KG was an English nobleman and soldier who served as Lord Deputy of Ireland under Queen Elizabeth I, and later as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland under King James I.
Robert Sidney, 1st Earl of Leicester, second son of Sir Henry Sidney, was a statesman of Elizabethan and Jacobean England. He was also a patron of the arts and a poet. His mother, Mary Sidney née Dudley, was a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth I and a sister of Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, an advisor and favourite of the Queen.
Lettice Knollys, Countess of Essex and Countess of Leicester, was an English noblewoman and mother to the courtiers Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, and Lady Penelope Rich. By her second marriage to Elizabeth I's favourite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, she incurred the Queen's unrelenting displeasure.
Catherine Carey, after her marriage Catherine Knollys and later known as both Lady Knollys and Dame Catherine Knollys,, was chief Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Elizabeth I, who was her first cousin.
Gloriana, Op. 53, is an opera in three acts by Benjamin Britten to an English libretto by William Plomer, based on Lytton Strachey's 1928 Elizabeth and Essex: A Tragic History. The first performance was presented at the Royal Opera House, London, in 1953 during the celebrations of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Gloriana was the name given by the 16th-century poet Edmund Spenser to his character representing Queen Elizabeth I in his poem The Faerie Queene. It became the popular name given to Elizabeth I. It is recorded that the troops at Tilbury hailed her with cries of "Gloriana, Gloriana, Gloriana", after the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588.
Probably composed in the 1580s, Philip Sidney's Astrophil and Stella is an English sonnet sequence containing 108 sonnets and 11 songs. The name derives from the two Greek words, 'aster' (star) and 'phil' (lover), and the Latin word 'stella' meaning star. Thus Astrophil is the star lover, and Stella is his star. Sidney partly nativized the key features of his Italian model Petrarch, including an ongoing but partly obscure narrative, the philosophical trappings of the poet in relation to love and desire, and musings on the art of poetic creation. Sidney also adopts the Petrarchan rhyme scheme, though he uses it with such freedom that fifteen variants are employed.
Frances Burke, Countess of Clanricarde and Dowager Countess of Essex was an English noblewoman. The daughter of Sir Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth I's Secretary of State, she became the wife of Sir Philip Sidney at age 16. Her second husband was Queen Elizabeth's favourite, Robert Devereaux Earl of Essex, with whom she had five children. Two years after his execution in 1601, she married Richard Burke, Earl of Clanricarde, and went to live with him in Ireland.
Dorothy Percy, Countess of Northumberland was the younger daughter of Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex by Lettice Knollys, and the wife of Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland.
Robert Rich, 3rd Baron Rich, 1st Earl of Warwick, was an English nobleman, known as Baron Rich between 1581 and 1618, when he was created Earl of Warwick. He was the first husband of Penelope Devereux, whom he divorced in 1605 on the grounds of her adultery.
Sir Christopher Blount was an English soldier, secret agent, and rebel. He served as a leading household officer of Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester. A Catholic, Blount corresponded with Mary, Queen of Scots's Paris agent, Thomas Morgan, probably as a double agent. After the Earl of Leicester's death he married the Dowager Countess, Lettice Knollys, mother of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex. Blount became a comrade-in-arms and confidant of the Earl of Essex and was a leading participant in the latter's rebellion in February 1601. About five weeks later he was beheaded on Tower Hill for high treason.
Sir Francis Knollys, KG of Rotherfield Greys, Oxfordshire was an English courtier in the service of Henry VIII, Edward VI and Elizabeth I, and was a Member of Parliament for a number of constituencies.
Essex House was a house that fronted the Strand in London. Originally called Leicester House, it was built around 1575 for Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, and was renamed Essex House after being inherited by his stepson, Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, after Leicester's death in 1588. The poet Philip Sidney lived in Leicester House for some time.
Marcus Gheeraerts was a Flemish artist working at the Tudor court, described as "the most important artist of quality to work in England in large-scale between Eworth and van Dyck" He was brought to England as a child by his father Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder, also a painter. He became a fashionable portraitist in the last decade of the reign of Elizabeth I under the patronage of her champion and pageant-master Sir Henry Lee. He introduced a new aesthetic in English court painting that captured the essence of a sitter through close observation. He became a favorite portraitist of James I's queen Anne of Denmark, but fell out of fashion in the late 1610s.
Mountjoy Blount, 1st Earl of Newport, c. 1597 to 12 February 1666, was an English courtier and politician, who held a number of positions under Charles I of England and supported the Royalists in the First English Civil War.
Elizabeth Knollys, Lady Leighton, was an English courtier who served Queen Elizabeth I of England, first as a Maid of Honour and secondly, after 1566, as a Gentlewoman of the Privy Chamber. Knollys was the grand-niece of Queen consort Anne Boleyn, which made her a cousin once removed of the Queen. Elizabeth married Sir Thomas Leighton of Feckenham in Worcestershire in 1578. He served as Governor of Jersey and Guernsey.
Katherine Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon was an English noblewoman.