Article

The Death of Robert Cecil: End of An Era

Johann Sommerville

in The Oxford Handbook of John Donne

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199218608
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199218608.013.0042

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 The Death of Robert Cecil: End of An Era

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The focal point of this article is Robert Cecil Earl of Salisbury. He died on 24 May 1612. The news soon reached John Donne, who at that time was travelling on the continent with Sir Robert Drury. In July Donne penned a lengthy letter, expressing surprise at the number of libellous attacks on Salisbury that had appeared after his death. These libels, he said, were ‘so tasteless and flat, which I protest to you…’. Salisbury's death ended the era of Cecil hegemony. For more than half a century William Cecil and his son Robert had served in turn as the Crown's leading minister. Some scholars have linked the rise in Donne's fortunes to the decline in power of the Cecils. Perhaps Donne's attitudes towards Salisbury were coloured by his membership in a political faction opposed to the Earl. A detailed analysis of Robert Cecil's contribution and Donne's role in the Jacobean era concludes this article.

Keywords: death; Robert Cecil; Cecil hegemony; John Donne; Jacobean Era; Salisbury; William Cecil

Article.  5425 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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