The Earl of Essex and Late Elizabethan Political Culture by Alexandra Gajda

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By Alexandra Gajda

In sixteenth-century England Robert Devereux, 2d earl of Essex, loved nice household and foreign renown as a favorite of Elizabeth I. He was once a soldier and a statesman of awfully robust ambition. After his disastrous rebellion in 1601 Essex fell from the heights of popularity and favour, and ended his existence as a traitor at the scaffold. This interdisciplinary account of the political tradition of past due Elizabethan England explores the ideological contexts of Essex's impressive profession and fall from grace, and the complex courting among suggestion and motion in Elizabethan England.

By the overdue 16th century, basic political versions and vocabularies that have been hired to legitimise the Elizabethan polity have been undermined by means of the lines of conflict, the ambivalence that many felt in the direction of the church, endured uncertainty over the succession, and the perceived weaknesses of the rule of thumb of the getting older Elizabeth. Essex's occupation and rebel threw all of those traces into reduction. Alexandra Gajda examines the angle of the earl and his fans to warfare, faith, the buildings of the Elizabethan polity, and Essex's function inside it. She additionally explores the classical and historic scholarship prized by way of Essex and his affiliates that gave form and desiring to the earl's more and more fractured dating with the Queen and regime. She addresses modern responses to the earl, either optimistic and unfavorable, and the earl's wider influence on political tradition. Political and non secular rules in overdue sixteenth-century England had a major influence on political occasions in early glossy England, and performed an essential function in shaping the increase and fall of Essex's profession.

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The Earl of Essex and Late Elizabethan Political Culture

In sixteenth-century England Robert Devereux, second earl of Essex, loved nice household and overseas renown as a favorite of Elizabeth I. He used to be a soldier and a statesman of incredibly strong ambition. After his disastrous rebellion in 1601 Essex fell from the heights of popularity and favour, and ended his existence as a traitor at the scaffold.

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Furthermore, a nobleman who made a physical intervention in the polity in self-defence and for the health of the realm was, in the context of late sixteenth-century political thought, acting according to the principle of resistance, either through the natural law of self-preservation, or in a public capacity, to restore a sick, misgoverned state. IV The first chapter is a detailed study of the revolt itself. It focuses on the ways in which Essex and his followers conceived and defended the legitimacy of their actions, in contrast to the regime’s denunciation of the rising as a dangerous rebellion.

In the political culture of the 1590s, the dominant discourse about counsel was a negative one that emphasized the propensity of monarchs to ignore wise advice and listen to flatterers or evil, self-interested ministers. The role of counsellors was not predominantly defined as the sustaining strength of the monarchy, but, as Essex came to believe, as a poisonous source of corruption and instability. Most significantly, the earl’s rising, hopeless as it may have been, raised the intractable problem that would be writ so much larger in the seventeenth century: what was the legitimate response of virtuous subjects, denied political agency or an outlet to express grievances, when they believed that their polity, consciences, and lives were dangerously imperilled by a corrupt or ungodly monarchy?

104r–106v, examination of Thomas Lee; Howell, State Trials, I, 1403–15. 38 HMC Salisbury, XI, 132, 156, 321–2. A proclamation against seditious libels was issued on 5 April: APC XXXI, 266. 39 John Stowe, A summarie of the chronicles of England (1604), 433. 40 APC, XXXI, 148–67. 41 TNA, SP 12/278/35, f. 49r. 42 TNA, SP 12/278/54, ff. 79r–80r; a shorter version is SP 12/278/55, ff. 90r–91r. 43 TNA, SP 12/278/63, ff. 108r–109v. 34 Earl of Essex and Political Culture Typically, the instructions to preachers and Cecil’s speech in Star Chamber had pre-empted this line of reasoning.

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