"The Queen's Dwarf" Jeffrey Hudson Led An Outsized Life

April 6, 2023 | Dancy Mason

"The Queen's Dwarf" Jeffrey Hudson Led An Outsized Life

Little person Jeffrey Hudson was famous as "The Queen's Dwarf" for his close relationship to the British Queen Henrietta Maria. Only, his exploits were anything but miniature. From his bizarre introduction to royalty to the one violent act that changed his life forever, Hudson more than earned his outsized notoriety.

What A Difference Difference Makes

Born in 1619, Hudson looked like a typical infant at first. But as he grew, people began to notice his extremely small stature, likely due to a growth hormone deficiency. While he exhibited "perfect" proportions (one of his trademark "marvels"), he only stood at about 18 or 19 inches. Those closest to him quickly took advantage of these differences.

When he was seven years old, Hudson's own parents "gifted" him to their local Duke for the noble's entertainment. The Duke then re-gifted him to the Queen Henrietta Maria, for her entertainment. After watching Hudson jump out of a pie in a miniature suit of armor, she realized she had to make him her royal court dwarf. He was still just seven years old.

In The Court Of The Queen

The next years of Hudson's life involved great luxury and great humiliation in equal parts. Yes, the Queen dressed him in the finest clothes, had him painted in portraits, and taught him royal manners and Roman Catholicism. Still, he was fundamentally a sideshow. Case in point: He was part of an almost literal menagerie, which included two disproportionate little people and the Queen's favorite monkey. What else could Jeffrey Hudson do but rebel?

Jeffrey Hudson EditorialWikimedia Commons

After decades of this, Hudson finally had enough. Now a man of 25, Hudson made it clear to Henrietta Maria's court that he would no longer tolerate being the butt of every joke. In October 1644, Hudson even challenged a member of the powerful Crofts family to a duel, presumably after yet another slight on his worth. So when his mocking opponent brought a water gun to the fight, Hudson showed him just how serious he was. He shot the man fatally, right in the forehead.

On The Run

This, perhaps, was the single defining moment of Hudson's life. Amid calls for his execution and imprisonment, Queen Henrietta Maria showed him one real act of mercy and exiled him instead...but it only led to one last brutal twist. Months later, a slave ship captured him, and he spent the next 25 years in a labor camp. Then, when he finally got back to England, anti-Catholic sentiment soon landed him in prison.

He died a free man, but barely. In 1680, they released him from his cell and he passed just two years later. An unremembering public buried "The Queen's Dwarf" in an anonymous pauper's grave.

Sources:  1

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