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The Earl of Essex and Late Elizabethan Political Culture

Alexandra Gajda

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199699681
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191739057 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199699681.001.0001

Series: Oxford Historical Monographs

The Earl of Essex and Late Elizabethan Political Culture

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In sixteenth‐century England, Robert Devereux, 2nd earl of Essex, enjoyed great renown: a favourite of Elizabeth I, Essex was a privy councillor and general of exceptionally powerful ambition, who scaled the heights of favour and fame. The earl was expected by many throughout Europe to play a key role in the succession, and to act as kingmaker on the death of Elizabeth. Instead, Essex ended his life as a traitor on the scaffold, following his disastrous uprising in 1601. This book explores the ideological contexts of Essex’s extraordinary career, and the intricate relationship between thought and action in Elizabethan England. It examines the attitude of the earl and his followers to war, religion, the structures of the Elizabethan polity, and Essex’s role within it. It also explores the classical and historical scholarship prized by Essex and his associates that gave shape and meaning to the earl’s increasingly fractured relationship with the queen and regime. It also addresses contemporary responses to the earl, both positive and negative, and the earl’s wider impact on political culture. It is argued that political and religious ideas in late sixteenth‐century England had a very important impact on political events in early modern England, and played a vital role in shaping the rise and fall of Essex’s career.

Keywords: sixteenth‐century England; earl of Essex; Elizabeth I; Elizabethan polity; Elizabethan church; religion; revolt; succession; political ideas; historical scholarship

Book.  293 pages. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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Table of Contents

Introduction in The Earl of Essex and Late Elizabethan Political Culture

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The Essex rising of 1601 in The Earl of Essex and Late Elizabethan Political Culture

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Justifying war in The Earl of Essex and Late Elizabethan Political Culture

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‘Profane pollicy’? Religion, toleration, and the politics of succession in The Earl of Essex and Late Elizabethan Political Culture

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Physician of the state: Essex and the Elizabethan polity in The Earl of Essex and Late Elizabethan Political Culture

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The popular traitor: responses to Essex in The Earl of Essex and Late Elizabethan Political Culture

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Scholars and martialists: the politics of history and scholarship in The Earl of Essex and Late Elizabethan Political Culture

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Conclusion in The Earl of Essex and Late Elizabethan Political Culture

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