Essex: A Stranger to Moderation

Banner - Essex’s handwriting in letter to Elizabeth

· 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. [Essex]

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 had most loved, Essex was her final favourite, the solace and the scandal of her senescence.

Essex in history

The dysfunctional relationship between Elizabeth and Essex was described by Robert Naunton in Fragmenta regalia, his account of the reign published posthumously in 1641.

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)

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5)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 a tantrum removed a thwart. His personality was all Freudian id. His words were impassioned, his gestures grandiose, his 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 soldiers and he made sure they knew it, even if love was nearly all he could give them for their effort and their blood. Sometimes he’d pay them himself when Elizabeth wouldn’t. He was ridiculed and reprimanded for the number of knighthoods he bestowed on campaign. He led from the front, often to the point of reckless folly.

He believed that making righteous war was his particular gift, the destiny of his noble birthright. I’m not unsympathetic to this. I felt it myself when I was a young man, the call of the bloodline from deep within. Where Essex erred was in thinking that the call guaranteed success. He assumed that victories 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 ever returned with him except excuses, petulance, and swingeing bills that Elizabeth was increasingly loath to pay.

front cover of 1586 Catecheses Mystagogicae at Bodleian Library OxfordAnd 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 want to consider waiving the late fees. I would expect the Bodleian Library to comply with Faro’s dunning right after the British Museum returns the Elgin Marbles to Athens.

’Swounds, this post was in my Drafts folder awaiting the 25th when the fate of the Greek sculptures became a Brexit controversy. We shall see what happens. The Parthenon Frieze draws much more of the world’s notice than a stack of fusty books on a library shelf, most of them written 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, advertising his magnanimity, his version of events, his personal image. He made himself as visible as possible in an era before mass media, when information travelled at the speed of horse. Here are just three of the regiment of self-portraits he took in the rare Venetian looking-glass in his garderobe at Essex House. If someone so much as complimented his haircut he’d have one sent to their steward, complete with hanging instructions for optimum viewing.

Dates above are approximate.
See Captions following the post for alternate facts.

Others also promoted his brand. Some engravings were commissioned by friends or followers. Some came unbidden, made by printers out to profit from the sale of Essexian memorabilia.

Essex c1599 engraving by Wm Rogers - classical elements surroundingengraving 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.

Essex c1599 engraving by Thos Cockson - equestrian with Cadiz Azores Irelandengraving 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 and was quickly suppressed, its producer taken to task 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 the sovereign is not sound strategy. Young or old, Elizabeth suffered no 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 those may have been. I illustrate this point with a cinematic correction. The 2011 film Anonymous gave me the opposite view, an epiphany that playgoers could be incited to action by drama, then put into harness to help pull Cecil down. My non-factual involvement in Essex’s plotting served the film’s story (more about this below), but had I been there I’d 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 only for sound and fury this side of regicide. Monarchy was not democracy, and popularity was not power. When real-world push came to shove on February 8th 1601, the sheriff and all his brethren did not pour out. Essex collapsed, impotent against the hard power held firmly in the hand of his adversary.

Anonymous 2011 - Essex goes to the block - through windowFilms 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.

17th-cent woodcut of 1601 Essex execution, from 1868 ballad book

From a 17th-century woodcut of Essex’s
execution at Tower Green. Note the scaffold.
[1]

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 (7:14) documentary, 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

Essex gets the axe 1601 - chocolate bar card - execution anniversary

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 a success. 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 customers 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.

Lytton Strachey - Elizabeth and Essex A Tragic History - 1st edition 1928Bloomsbury writer Lytton Strachey’s 1928 book Elizabeth and Essex: A Tragic History blends 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 tragic.

Bette Davis and Errol Flynn in The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, 1939 (PD image, Wikimedia Commons)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.
Britten Gloriana - All Spain will cower when the rebel falls

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 have no cause 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 haven’t decided whether I want to see it enough 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 it didn’t matter. Neither I nor any other playwright, nor William Shakspere, was 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 was Richard II, the Council knew pretty quickly that the performance was functionally irrelevant to the events of the following day.

The play, whatever it was, was simply a hype video for some of the lads on the team, 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 coincidental. The putsch took place the next day only because Lord Keeper Egerton and other Privy Council officials showed up at Essex House in the morning to find out why Essex had blown off their summons the day before (he was not at the play). The officials were held as impromptu hostages, and events went quickly downhill from there.

Why then has so much been made by Orthodoxy of this unattributable little dramatic interlude before the final act of the Essex Debacle? Because Stratford needs to grab hold of any remotely conceivable opportunity to connect their boy as the Author to these events, and thus to Essex’s friend and fervent supporter, Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton. The Shakespeare Industry calls the play Richard II and inflates it with an importance it doesn’t merit –

WS to HW dedications, V&A and RofL– because Southampton is important.

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 find a few good 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.

The Shakespearean Authorship Trust has begun posting its videos of the presentations from the Essex conference on its YouTube channel (see Sources below). The presenter of most relevance has posted a transcript of his presentation on his own blog, if you’d rather read than watch.

Video presentation:
After the Rebellion: “Shakespeare’s” Final Tragedy and His Triumphant Rebirth
– 24 November 2019 [SAT channel on YouTube]

Transcript [hankwhittemore.com]

Teaser:

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 own 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 to this post, I have (finally) addressed Prince Tudor from my own perspective. Regarding Prince Tudor can be found under the blog’s About menu, not in the chronological post listing. 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 a US/AU streaming link and other 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.

Film Review - All Is True: Isn't. - 23 March 2019My 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 release, and the fact that he even had to do it reveals the power of the film’s 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 and married), 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 lots of questions asked, before being released the following day. You’ll have to investigate that one 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

floor marker in St Peter ad Vincula at the Tower, not cropped

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
.


Notes
[1] 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, who at other times was an infamous forger of Shakespeare, admits in his preface that the illustrations are ‘imitative’ and as flexibly placed as he says the originals were in their own day. Woodcuts, expensive and time-consuming to produce, were certainly re-used. His point is valid, but even in 1868 I believe most people could tell the difference between an axe and a rope.
Captions, Essex selfies portraits

  • 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

The photo 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.

  • Anonymous [crackle.com]
  • · directed by Roland Emmerich, released October 2011
  • · running time 2 hrs 10 mins

The Crackle website and mobile apps function in the US and Australia. No login is needed, but there are lots of adverts. Other locations may be added later. If Crackle isn’t an option, you can rent or purchase the film at the usual online media locations. 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.

Anonymous 2011 - poster - WAS SHAKESPEARE A FRAUD? (yes)

  • 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 with Mark linked above covers the ground much more thoroughly, so don’t fret if the WSJ doesn’t let you in.

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..

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.

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. [thenational.ae]

[return to jump origin]

You can read or download the Essex chapter or the entire book, no payment or login required. Other chapters: [1] The Disgusting Cardinal Wolsey, [2] The Envious Earl of Surrey (my uncle Henry Howard), and [3] 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

VERO NIHIL VERIUS