On 10th October 1562 Queen Elizabeth I was taken ill at Hampton Court Palace with smallpox, Elizabeth became so ill with a dangerously high fever that her council began to prepare in case she did not survive the illness. As she lay recovering Elizabeth named Robert Dudley as protector of the kingdom and swore to her councillors that ‘as God was her witness nothing improper had ever passed between them.’
Fortunately the Queen survived, however, her nursemaid Lady Mary Sidney caught the illness from the Queen and was badly disfigured as a result. Mary’s husband wrote in his ‘Memoirs of Services’ the effects the disease had on his wife;
“When I went to Newhaven I lefte her a full faire Ladye in myne eye at least the fayerest, and when I returned I found her as fowle a ladie as the smale pox could make her, which she did take by contynuall attendance of her majesties most precious person (sicke of the same disease)the skarres of which (to her resolute discomforte) ever syns hath don and doth remayne in her face, so as she lyveth solitairlie sicut Nicticorax in domicilio suo more to my charge then if we had boorded toether as we did before that evill accident happened.”
Although Elizabeth survived the disease relatively unscathed she did have some minor scarring and hair loss that she began to cover with the use of makeup and wigs. Elizabeth would go on to reign for another 41 years following her illness.