The real Sir Robert Carey

The Sir Robert Carey novels.

Here is Sir Robert Carey in 1591/2 when he was around 32. Yes, he looks a bit bald but that was probably because he shaved his forehead to look more like Queen Elizabeth, as many other young courtiers did. He is wearing his magnificent Court clothes, a tawny doublet, black paned trunk hose, a wonderful pearl-embroidered black velvet cape over one shoulder, a pearl in his ear and a swag of pearls across his chest.

He’s the youngest son of Henry Carey, Lord Baron Hunsdon, and the clothes alone, never mind the pearls, are probably worth about a thousand pounds in Elizabethan money or somewhere around a million quid nowadays.

In other words, he’s basically wearing a Ferrari.

(Yes, I know this is very rough and ready and I’ll go through the Patricia Finney Beer Standard some other time.)

The portrait was almost certainly painted to memorialise his knighthood by the Earl of Essex after extremely fast-talking and speedy action by Carey had got the Earl out of serious trouble with the Queen. I originally thought the ship in the background was the Elizabeth Bonaventura on which he served against the Armada, but it only has two masts – so I think it must be the ship he took to France to meet the Earl who was fighting the Catholic French at the time, in alliance with the then-still-Protestant Henri, King of Navarre who later became Henri IV of France.

And shortly after this portrait was painted, Carey rode to Carlisle to become Deputy Warden of the West March of England under his brother-in-law Lord Scrope, which was about as far as he could get, physically and culturally from the Queen’s Court.

To put it another way, this fancy-dressing, fancy-talking Court dude moved to the Elizabethan Wild North and became Her Majesty’s Marshal  on the Borders, where they made Dodge City look like Milton Keynes. That’s why I started writing a series of crime novels about him.

His gorgeous Court clothes were almost certainly pawned for ready cash.

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