[ESSEX CONSPIRACY]. Manuscript document, "The Order and Manner of the Arraignment of Robert, late Earle of Essex, and Henrye, late Earle of Southhampton, at Westminster, the XIXo of February Anno Dm. 1600." 25 leaves, folio, original paper wrappers. In a quarter morocco protective case.
A COURT FAVORITE BEHEADED. This manuscript summary of the arraignment of the Earl of Essex (Robert Devereux) and the Earl of Southampton is a sad final chapter to the story of Devereux's long, intimate, but tempestuous relations with Queen Elizabeth. Devereux, second Earl of Essex (1566-1601) had been a favorite of Queen Elizabeth at court. The stepson of Elizabeth's prized courtier, Earl of Leicester, he solidified his reputation with military exploits in Portugal, France, and Cadiz. But relations between monarch and earl grew increasingly tempestuous over the years, with Elizabeth ending one heated argument by slapping Devereux in the face. Favor turned irrevocably to fury when the Queen sent him to Ireland to crush the rebellion led by the Earl of Tyrone, and Essex was unable to quell the uprising even with overwhelming superiority in numbers. When he concluded an armistice with Tyrone without the Queen's consent, Elizabeth was furious and recalled him to court. Stripped of his titles, a seething Essex plotted with the Earl of Southampton, and about 300 followers to regain his position by force. Essex always maintained that he intended no harm to the Queen, only to his rivals. The plotters, however, also had visions of a general rising and hoped to sow the seeds of rebellion among the public by paying Shakepeare's Globe Company 40 shillings (twice the normal fee) to stage the mildly seditious Richard II the day before their action. It proved a poor incitement. Essex and his followers found themselves utterly alone in the streets of London, and were easily crushed by the Queen's forces. Elizabeth was reluctant to sign the death warrant for her former favorite, but eventually she did, and on 25 February 1600 he was beheaded in the Tower.