· 25 February 2020 ·
[Another beheading: the Earl of Essex, 419 years ago]
Hast [hasten], paper, to thatt happy presence whence only unhappy I am banished. Kiss thatt fayre correcting hand which layes new plasters to my lighter hurtes, butt to my greatest woond applyeth nothing. Say thou cummest from shaming, languishing, despayring, S.X.
Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, to Elizabeth I,
6 September 1600, after his return from Ireland
Elizabeth Tudor didn’t shorten many lives by shortening heights. One of the few times she did took place in the forty-third year of her reign and sixty-eighth of her life, on a cold Ash Wednesday morning, the 25th of February 1601. Her fayre correcting hand became the clenched fist of retribution as the headsman’s blade swung. At the bottom of its arc lay Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, not yet thirty-six. Son of the cousin Elizabeth most resented, stepson of the man she most loved, Essex was her final favourite, the solace and the scandal of her senescence.
Essex in history
There was in this young Lord, together with a goodly appearance, a kind of urbanity and innate courtesy, which both won over the Queen and too much took in the people who gazed upon this newly-adopted son of her favour. It will be not amiss to note two observations: the first was a violent indulgence of the Queen’s (which is incident to old age where it encounters a pleasing and suitable object) towards this great Lord, which argued its non-perpetuity; the second was a fault in her grace’s object, my Lord himself, who drew in too fast like a child sucking on an over uberous nurse. Had there been a more decent decorum observed in both or either of these, then without a doubt the unity of their affections would have been more permanent and not so in-and-out as it was, like an instrument first well tuned then lapsing into discord.(edited for readability)
Robert Devereux was a comely, charming youth who grew older but not up. Throughout his life his behaviour was marked by the snits and sulks of a spoilt child, followed by frantic glee after the tantrums removed the thwarts. His personality was all Freudian id. Emotions were always passionate, gestures grandiose, actions disproportionate to their causes. Had Doctor Lopez read the DSM he’d have diagnosed the patient as bipolar. As it was, the doctor diagnosed a different malady and the patient made him pay for it. Disproportionately.
Out in the fighting fields, Essex’s troops were devoted to their charismatic commander. He loved his men and he made sure they knew it, even if love was all he could give them for their effort and their blood. Sometimes he’d pay them himself when Elizabeth wouldn’t. He bestowed battlefield knighthoods at a rate that earned him reprimand and ridicule. He led from the front, often to the point of reckless folly.
He believed that making war on England’s enemies was his noble destiny, his particular gift. I’m not unsympathetic to this. As a young man I felt it myself, the call of the bloodline from deep within. Where Essex erred was in thinking that the call guaranteed success. He assumed victory and acclaim and great rewards would come to him by right. Opportunities he was given, but time after time he failed to deliver results. Little returned with him but excuses, petulance, and swingeing bills that Elizabeth grew ever more loath to pay.
And books, once. On the return voyage from Cádiz in 1596 (lots of sacking and burning but no Spanish treasure), Essex acquired a large pile of books. They were looted from the library of the Episcopal Palace in the Portuguese town of Faro, his share of the plunder before Faro too was sacked and burned. In 1600 Essex gave these books to Thomas Bodley, helping to seed Bodley’s new library at the University of Oxford.
In 2014 some folks in Faro figured that the books were four centuries overdue and ought to be returned. This has not yet occurred. They might consider waiving the late fees. I expect the Bodleian Library will comply with Faro’s dunning right after the British Museum returns the Elgin Marbles to Athens.
’Swounds, that joke was sitting in the draft waiting to be posted when the Greek sculptures became a Brexit controversy. The Parthenon Frieze draws a lot more of the world’s attention than a stack of fusty old books on a library shelf, most of them in Latin. Lord Elgin had at least the fig-leaf of a legal purchase to cover his actions, while Essex’s haul was pure pillage. An interesting distinction.
Inside and outside the court Essex courted opinion, promoting his image, his magnanimity, his version of events. He made himself highly visible in an era before mass media, when information travelled only at the speed of horse. Here are just three of his regiment of self-portraits taken in the rare Venetian looking-glass in his garderobe at Essex House. If someone so much as complimented his haircut he’d have a portrait sent to their steward, complete with hanging instructions for optimum viewing.
See Captions at the end of the post for alternate facts.
Others also advertised the Essex brand. Engravings were commissioned by friends and followers. Some came unbidden, made by printers aiming to profit from the sale of popular Essexian memorabilia.
engraving by William Rogers c1599
British Museum 1863,0214.496
▲ Essex as the new Lord Lieutenant (not Lorde Generail) of Ireland, before the fiasco that transpired once he got there. On the left Constancy holds a victor’s crown of laurel, while Envy on the right tries to destroy it. Inside the laurel, Basis virtutum constantia– Constancy is the foundation of virtue. Below Essex’s gartered arms at the bottom is his personal motto, Virtutis comes invidia– Virtue is accompanied by envy. His excuse for failure, ready and waiting.
engraving by Thomas Cockson c1599
British Museum O,7.283
▲ It’s as if we’re gazing upon a statue, a majestic equestrian bronze. This engraving appeared in January 1600. It was quickly suppressed, its producer castigated by the Privy Council for his lewd offence. The verse at the bottom reads (spelling updated):
- Virtue’s honour, Wisdom’s valour, Grace’s servant, Mercy’s love,
- God’s elected, Truth’s beloved, Heaven’s affected, Do approve
God’s elected? Whose bright idea was this? Even if the phrase’s intent was to highlight Essex’s Protestant bona fides, God’s elected monarch wasn’t going to see it that way. I wondered at the time whether this might have been a Cecilian plant, but now I don’t think it was. Essex needed no assistance in the foot-shooting department.
All this aggrandisement did Essex far more harm than good. Out-egoing an annointed sovereign is rarely sound strategy. At no time in her long reign did Elizabeth tolerate competition for hearts, minds, authority, or attention. I will have here but one mistress and no master (again from Naunton) was the reality the stepfather came to understand, but the stepson never did.
Another reality not understood: mustered-out veterans and cheering crowds at Accession Day pageants were not going to help Essex achieve his goals, whatever they may have been. I illustrate this point with a cinematic correction. The 2011 film Anonymous gave me the opposite view, that playgoers could be incited to action by drama, then put into harness to pull Robert Cecil down. My fictional involvement in Essex’s plotting served the film’s story (more about this below), but my non-fictional self would have known not to expect anything useful from that crowd. A play can certainly arouse, but a London mob was a skittish creature without puissance, good for little but sound and fury. Monarchy was not democracy, and popularity was not power. When real-world push came to shove on the 8th of February 1601, the sheriff and all his brethren did not pour out. Essex collapsed, impotent against the force of authority held firmly in the hand of his adversary.
Films have budgets, scaffolds are expensive.
Robert of Essex was a tragedy with more than a touch of farce, but you needn’t have been Shake-Speare to foresee how the play would end. Essex’s hot, blue, ungovernable blood was never going to win out over the colder, newer stuff in Cecil’s subservient veins. Sanguine fell to sangfroid.
The lack of moderation in Essex’s life was the Constancy that finally ended it, as the failure of the muddled putsch forced the queen’s hand. In that moment when the axe fell, 419 years ago today, William and Robert Seisyll, deceased father and living son, up from the Welsh border to the right hand of the Crown in four generations, won their version of history. It’s the version they directed and edited, the privilege of the winners. Regnum Cecilianum. It encompassed my entire life. It’s the history you were taught. Shakespeare is part of it. Shake-Speare is not.
Essex in the culture
It didn’t take long for Essex post mortem to become the ill-fated romantic hero, the always-victorious warrior nearly Arthurian in his mythic appeal. The public had short memories.
From a 17th-century woodcut of Essex’s
execution at Tower Green. Note the scaffold. 
This woodcut illustrated the circa-1635 broadside ballad A Lamentable Ditty made on the Death of Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex (etc). The ballad remained popular for decades after its subject was done serving dinner to worms. Printers reset and re-issued it at intervals during the rest of the century, using the old woodcut or a newer copy.
A Lamentable Ditty made on the Death of Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex
11:27 – to the tune of Welladay
Follow-along lyrics will open in a new tab.
Broadside ballads were the early ancestors of the tabloids. Seventeenth-century publishers were already printing legends instead of facts, long before a fictional nineteenth-century newspaper editor turned the idea into a trope.
The execution woodcut appears in this short documentary (7:14), in which Essex’s scaffold is reconstructed from a contemporary description in the archives at the Tower of London.
Anatomy of an Execution
Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex
French collectible card from the early 20th century.
Even the birth year is incorrect.
In Belle-Époque Paris, in the wrappers of its chocolate bars, Maison Chocolat Guérin-Boutron included ‘chromolithographic images’ of notable figures, as enticements and adverts. The cards are still collected so they must have been successful. Some were better than others. The 1635 broadside’s monochromodendrographic image depicts Essex’s demise more accurately, but a card with a full-colour decapitation might have put candy consumers off their feed. Quel dommage. All that crimson ink, wasted on the headsman instead of the head.
A few Frenchmen turned the tale of Essex into plays in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. I haven’t read them. One was written in 1678 by Thomas Corneille, the less-famous younger brother of Pierre, also a dramatist. Thomas later made a translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, which is why I mention him.
Gaetano Donizetti’s opera Roberto Devereux premiered in 1837, the libretto written by Salvadore Cammarano. It’s Italian. It borrows a few of the historical characters, embroiders one or two more, and fabricates overlapping love triangles around them using of a pair of MacGuffins. Essex’s emotional infidelity and Elizabeth’s raging jealousy drive the story. It’s Italian.
Bloomsbury writer Lytton Strachey’s 1928 book Elizabeth and Essex: A Tragic History blends together history, biography, psychological profiling, a certain flexibility with facts, and the author’s dry, wry wit. Strachey deserves to be more widely read. If I’m making suggestions: this book, then Eminent Victorians and his biography of Queen Victoria herself. Then (or first) watch the 1995 film Carrington, in which Jonathan Pryce steals the picture as Strachey, even from Emma Thompson’s Dora Carrington. Carrington and Strachey’s intertwined lives were unusually complicated, and ultimately also tragic.
Warner Brothers released The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex in 1939, the year of Scarlett O’Hara and Dorothy Gale. Bette Davis shaved her eyebrows to play an Elizabeth over twice her age, while Errol Flynn as Essex was cast to type. Technicolor eye candy, music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, and a story based on Maxwell Anderson’s 1930 stage play Elizabeth the Queen. The last half hour is utter Hollywood melodrama, but don’t let that stop you.
Back to opera: Benjamin Britten’s Gloriana, libretto by William Plomer. Commissioned for the 1953 accession of the second Queen Elizabeth, Strachey’s book was the primary source. This one is sung in English, though I still can’t understand sopranos without subtitles.
From a 1984 performance by the
English National Opera.
Gloriana’s portrayal of events is somewhat less contrived than Roberto Devereux’s, but you don’t watch opera for historical realism. Seeing what others have done with a familiar piece of history, how it’s presented in a different dramatic form, is always informative. If you enjoy opera, I see no reason to think you won’t be entertained by either of these. If you’re not an enthusiast, you will be reminded why notMy viewing companion for Roberto Devereux commented, “I’ve turned the hose on cats who sounded better than this.”.
Maxwell Anderson’s blank-verse play Elizabeth the Queen, adapted for the Davis/Flynn film, was adapted again for a 1968 Hallmark Hall of Fame production on US television. Judith Anderson as Elizabeth, Charlton Heston as Essex. I found a DVD for sale, but I’m not sure I want to pay for it. I’m still recovering from Heston as Thomas More.
Essex, Shakespeare, and Southampton
The Essex Rebellion (as it’s called) connects to Shakespeare, but how and how much depends on the content and quantity of your surmises.
Familiar to many is the performance of a play the day before the fuss. Arranged by some of Essex’s faction with the Lord Chamberlain’s Men at the Globe, it was reimagined as the rabble-rousing Wrong Richard in Anonymous. Here’s the rub: it isn’t known that the play was Richard II, or my work at all. Testimony taken at the time says only that a play ‘of Kyng Harry the iiiith and of the kyllyng of Kyng Richard’ was performed. That’s it. Surmise away. I wasn’t there, and nobody saved their programme.
The consolation to not knowing is knowing that it didn’t matter. Neither I nor any other playwright, nor William Shakspere, were brought in for questioning after the arrests, despite the wide net the Privy Council was casting to haul in its treason case against Essex. Even if the play did happen to be mine, the Council understood that the performance was functionally irrelevant to the events of the following day.
Whichever play it was, it was nothing more than a hype video for some of the lads on the side, and perhaps a reminder of what not to do, not to let things go too far. Bolingbroke’s justification was inspirational, but his final actions were not.
The timing was pure coincidence. The rising took place the next day only because Lord Keeper Egerton and other Privy Council officials arrived unexpectedly at Essex House, wanting to know why Essex blew off their summons the day before. (He was not at the theatre.) Conspiracy now obvious, the officials were taken hostage as the insurrection began, prematurely. It failed quickly.
Why then has so much been made by Orthodoxy of this unattributable pep-rally held before the final act of the Essex Debacle? Because Stratford needs to grab hold of any remotely contrivable opportunity to connect their boy to the event, and through it to Essex’s friend and fervent supporter Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton. The Shakespeare Industry decrees the play to be Richard II and inflates it with an importance it doesn’t merit—
Last November (2019) the ecumenical Shakespearean Authorship Trust held its annual conference on the theme of Shakespeare, Essex and Authorship (no Oxford comma). In the Sources below I’ve included works by a pair of the presenters (Hammer, Asquith), though I agree with almost none of their analysis. Oppositional reading such as this is worthwhile– even blind
Stratfordians squirrels can find a few nuts. More importantly, it leads to one of two results: either your opposition is tested and strengthened, or a better argument begins to change your mind. Both of these are healthy outcomes, though when the viewpoint is orthodox the better arguments are thin on the ground. Exercise caution when necessary: at the bottom of my bookshelves sits my Monstrous Adversary, but I bought the cheapest used copy I could find, and I keep it quarantined in a zipper bag in case it’s contagious.
Another presenter at the conference:
After the Rebellion: “Shakespeare’s” Final Tragedy and His Triumphant Rebirth
– by Hank Whittemore
– 24 November 2019 [SAT channel on YouTube]
Well, the focus of our gathering here at Shakespeare’s Globe is the failed Essex Rebellion led by the earls of Essex and Southampton – an event which, I submit, is the inciting incident of the tragic story of the Shakespearean author’s posthumous loss of identity. In this view the rebellion is not the end of the story, but, rather, the beginning of de Vere’s final evaporation behind the pen name; and this perspective sheds light on a crucial legal story that I want to share with you.
Whittemore’s narrative is predicated on an Oxfordian hypothesis known as Prince Tudor. This is a by-no-means-generally-accepted theory, but it relates directly to the relationship between Shake-Speare (the Author who is me) and Henry Wriothesley, Southampton. Its principal tenet is that Southampton was my son by Elizabeth. [a short alarum] If you buy this, it can explain a great deal, particularly in relation to the Essex Rebellion and my Sonnets, Whittemore’s bailiwick. If you don’t buy it, you roll your eyes and wish it would go away. When a conference’s theme is Shakespeare, Essex and Authorship, and Oxfordians are allowed in the front door, Prince Tudor is likely to be on the agenda. Whittemore is a card-carrying proponent of Prince Tudor.
In light of its relevance, I have addressed Prince Tudor from my own perspective. Regarding Prince Tudor can be found in the blog’s About menu, not the chronological post index. Spoiler: It’s not a clear yea or nay.
The film I keep mentioning, Roland Emmerich’s Anonymous, used the most radical version of Prince Tudor (adultery and incest!) as the plot’s engine, and the Essex Rebellion as the story’s climax. (See Sources for some details.) It’s hard for me to be objective about this film. As its subject, naturally I ate it up. Anyone
alive with a functioning ego would do the same. Story-wise, it hit some things squarely and whiffed on others. Movies are movies, water is wet. See also Shakespeare In Love, Bill, Miguel y William, or the most mendaciously titled film in all of Shakespearean cinema, All Is True.
My corrective about the mob in Anonymous is not criticism. I understand why the story made a big deal of the wrong play. I’ve done a little dramatic writing myself, I know that truth must sometimes bow to Truth in a creative work. Screenwriter John Orloff defended this point at the film’s release, and the fact that he had to do so reveals the power of its ideas. Anonymous was a speculative drama that aimed to entertain while it provoked thought. It did. It put the Authorship question in front of people who had never heard of it: priceless. Mirroring its protagonist, it cost a lot more than it made: unfortunate but fitting. It tweaked Stratford’s nose: bonus. Rhys Ifans made me look good: fact.
My long poems Venus and Adonis (1593) and The Rape of Lucrece (1594) were dedicated to the 3rd Earl of Southampton. He has also been connected, intimately though conjecturally, to my Sonnets. Essex and Southampton were convicted of treason at the same time, in the same trial. Essex was executed, Southampton wasn’t. Why not?
The customary explanation is that Robert Cecil considered Southampton to be an impressionable young man of weak character (he was 27, with a wife and two daughters), who was led astray by his adoration of Essex. Magnanimous in victory after eliminating his rival, Cecil advocated for the commutation of Southampton’s death sentence to life in prison, and the queen complied. Southampton spent the last two years of Elizabeth’s reign in the Tower. One of James Stuart’s first acts upon gaining the English throne in 1603 was to free the prisoner, then restore his rights and titles. Southampton was soon elected a Garter knight, granted several manors, and given the lucrative customs farm on sweet wines that had belonged to Essex.
A year later, on 24 June 1604, the day I happened to die, Southampton was arrested by Crown agents. He spent a bad night back at the Tower with no sleep and many questions asked, before being released the following day. You’ll have to investigate that one for yourself. I don’t know what was going on, I was busy.
Some connection exists between Shake-Speare and Henry Wriothesley. I wasn’t dead yet when V&A and Lucrece were published. Those two dedications, printed in irrefutable ink, beg for explanation. What relationship could engender such intensity of expression? Is this patronage, an older recipient to a younger benefactor, across a wide divide of social class? (That one’s easy to answerNo..) A homosexual bond, the older lover to the younger? Not sexual love but paternal, father to son? Something else entirely?
This post is long enough and I’ve strayed too far from Essex. If the end seems abrupt, it’s appropr
If you’re an edevere17.com regular, you will note that
I’ve had occasion to discuss every person interred
beneath this stone in the Chapel Royal of St Peter
ad Vincula, inside the Tower. Even Sir Thomas
Overbury, who is still not William Shakspere.
 Purveyors of expensive stock photographs describe their blurry image as a 17th-century woodcut print of Essex’s 1601 beheading, but provide no specifics. After tracking it back to the early broadsides, I found the reproduction I used in an 1868 book of Broadside black-letter ballads, printed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; illustrated by Original Woodcuts. The ballad it accompanies would lead you to assume that the image represents the execution of Catholic plotter Francis Throckmorton in July 1584. Wrong. Throckmorton was hung at Tyburn, not beheaded. The book’s editor, John Payne Collier, at other times an infamous forger of Shakespeare, admits in his preface that his illustrations are ‘imitative’ and placed as flexibly as he says the originals were in their own day. Woodcuts being expensive and time-consuming to produce, indeed were often re-used. Collier’s point is valid, but even in 1868 I believe that most people could tell the difference between an axe and a rope.
- 1. circa 1596 [artuk.org] (Essex in white)
by or after Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger (1561/62–1635/36)
Colchester and Ipswich Museums: Ipswich Borough Council Collection
- 2. circa 1597 [artuk.org] (Essex in red)
by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger
National Portrait Gallery, London
- 3. circa 1597 [artuk.org] (Essex in black)
by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger
Trinity College, University of Cambridge
The Earl’s Own Regiment of Wall [google.com]
[return to portrait images]
Sources and Additional Reading
- • Banner image [nationalarchives.gov.uk]
- · letter from Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, to Elizabeth I, 6 September 1600
- · SP12/275 f.102
- · banner uses a crop, the entire letter is at the link
- • Roderigo Lopez, Physician-in-Chief to Queen Elizabeth I of England [nih.gov]
- · by George M Weisz MD and Donatella Lippi PhD
- · Rambam Maimonides Medical Journal, 2017, Vol 8 (3), e0036
- · published online 31 July 2017
- · DOI: 10.5041/RMMJ.10306
- • Catecheses Mystagogicae pro aduenis ex secta Mahometana. Ad Parochos, & Potestates. [digital.bodleian.ox.ac.uk]
- · by Pedro Guerra de Lorca
- · printed at Madrid, 1586, 210mm x 150mm
- · previously owned by Fernando di Mascarenhas, Bishop of Faro and Grand Inquisitor of Portugal
- · shelfmark: Bodleian Library 4° L 2 Th.Seld.
- · photo: ©Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford
The photo posted above shows one of the books that Essex filched from Faro: Catechisms of instruction for those coming from the Muhammadan sect. To pastors and authorities. If you were a Catholic prelate in the land of the Inquisition, especially in the south, you had better know how to bring pragmatic Spanish Muslims to Christ. Thirty-three years after the book was published Philip III decreed the expulsion of all Muslims and Christianised moriscos from Spain and Portugal. Moriscos, like the Jewish conversos before them, were assumed to be faking it, insincere in their new faith. After 1609 there was no further need to instruct and convert, as the infidels were booted out instead.
To look inside: different copy, same contents [hathitrust.org]. How good is your Latin? I doubt that Essex vetted his booty for its desirability as reading material. The Episcopal Library wasn’t the place to find The Canterbury Tales, after all. Looters grab what’s proximate, portable, and profitable.
- • Warfare and Collection-Building: The Faro Raid of 1596 [tandfonline.com, paywall]
- · by Mark Purcell
- · Library History, Vol 18 No 1, 2002, pgs 17-24
- · DOI: 10.1179/lib.2002.18.1.17
- • Anonymous [pay-to-watch at YouTube]
- · directed by Roland Emmerich, released October 2011
- · running time 2 hrs 10 mins
The film had been streamable at crackle.com, but appears to be there no longer. Google offers rent-or-buy options at YouTube, or you can find it elsewhere. Buy the Blu-ray if you still do plastic discs. No one pays me royalties for the use of my identity or IP. I considered a lawsuit but it seemed ignoble, and anyway the film lost millions. With my financial track record, I’d end up owing them.
- • All’s Well That Ends Well? Roland Emmerich Takes On Shakespeare [wonderlandmagazine.com]
- · interview with the director (uncredited)
- · 28 October 2011
- • Anonymous with a Byline – Screenwriter John Orloff interview [shakespearebyanothername.blogspot.com]
- · by Mark K Anderson
- · Part 1, 11 November 2011
- · Part 2, 23 November 2011
- · Part 3, 11 April 2012
This three-part interview by Mark Anderson (author of my favourite biography), posted on his now-inactive blog, is a detailed look at the creation of the script, why choices that were made were made, and following up in the third part with some of Stratford’s predictable reaction to the film. Orloff has obviously done a great deal of thinking about all of this. (At one point he calls me an asshole artist. I can’t argue.) If you enjoyed Anonymous, and of course you did, or even if you haven’t seen it, this is a valuable read. Or perhaps you read it in 2011-12. If so, points to you.
- • Why I Played With Shakespeare’s Story [wsj.com, subscription required]
- · Truth and Fiction in a Shakespeare Film: John Orloff, Screenwriter, on Creating ‘Anonymous’ – “Juggling truth and emotional needs in a film that posits the plays were written by someone else”
- · Wall Street Journal, 29 October 2011
I include the link on the off chance that you can get past the paywall. The three-part interview linked above covers the ground much more thoroughly, so don’t fret if the WSJ doesn’t let you in.
- • A Lamentable Ditty made on the Death of Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex [ucsb.edu]
- · English Broadside Ballad Archive
- · Item #20781, Magdalene College, Pepys Ballads 2.162
- • Shakespeare’s Richard II, the Play of 7 February 1601, and the Essex Rising [jstor.org]
- · by Paul E J Hammer
- · Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol 59, No 1 (Spring 2008), pgs 1-35
- · Oxford University Press
- · PDF also here [cguearlymods.wordpress.com]
Hammer’s Shakespeare is Shakspere, but he gives the play, no matter which or whose it was, a more accurate (lack of) weight in the events leading up to the rising. Even so, he badly wants it to be William Shakespeare’s Richard II. Don’t trip over the hedgeshedge n. 1. A self-negating, non-committal, or intentionally ambiguous qualifier in a statement. 2. A shrubbery..
- • The Polarisation of Elizabethan Politics: The Political Career of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, 1585-1597 [cambridge.org]
- · by Paul E J Hammer
- · Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History
- · Cambridge University Press, 468 pages, 1999 (hardback), 2005 (paperback)
I did not enjoy paying half a goodly manor for this book (where is my alumni discount?), but I enjoyed reading it. It’s evident that the author sees his subject through very different eyes than mine. In trying to ‘cast Essex in a new light’, Hammer had his hands full; at times the task is beyond doing. What he calls new light I see as the tint of rose-coloured glasses, but I was impressed by the quantity and variety of the contemporary sources used. The book doesn’t say ‘Volume 1’ on it, but it ends at the end of 1597, after Essex pitches a fit to be given the position of Earl Marshal, and gets his way. Ireland and the Rebellion are still to come. Unless Hammer’s plans have changed, a footnote in his Richard II article linked above refers to The Essex Rising and the End of Elizabethan Politics: Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, Treason and the Politics of Royal Decline, 1598-1603. Twenty+ years between volumes seems like a long time, but I will save the balance of my manor’s proceeds for the second book, whenever it appears.
- • Shakespeare and the Resistance: The Earl of Southampton, the Essex Rebellion, and the Poems that Challenged Tudor Tyranny [Google Books]
- · by Clare Asquith
- · PublicAffairs, 2018, 288 pages
- · ebook and audiobook formats also available
More oppositional Shakspere. Asquith’s interpretation of events is entirely misinformed since she’s got the wrong author, but her premise relies on close readings of V&A and Lucrece. If you take the book on, not for its narrative but to improve your understanding of the poems, you can still learn things from it. Here’s a review. [thenationalnews.com]
- • Emotion in the Tudor Court: Literature, History, and Early Modern Feeling [jstor.org, open access]
- · by Bradley J Irish
- · Northwestern University Press, 2018
- · Chapter  The Dreading, Dreadful Earl of Essex, pages 137-178
You can read or download the Essex chapter or the entire book, no payment or login required. Other chapters:  The Disgusting Cardinal Wolsey,  The Envious Earl of Surrey (my uncle Henry Howard), and  The Rejected Earl of Leicester, the Rejected Sir Philip Sidney.
- • Id, Ego, and Superego [simplypsychology.org]
- · by Saul A McLeod
- · Simply Psychology website, 25 Sept 2019