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Study Notes

Earl of Essex

AQA, Edexcel, OCR, Eduqas

Last updated 25 Oct 2018

Robert Devereux was the Earl of Essex during the reign of Elizabeth I. He inherited the title after the death of his father when he was aged 10.

The Earl of Essex made his name when he fought in the Netherlands against the Spanish in 1586. He survived the war, unlike his cousin Sir Philip Sidney.

Essex then married his cousin’s widow. Essex’s stepfather was Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester who was one of the Queen’s favourites. When his stepfather died, Essex became one of Elizabeth’s favourites. Elizabeth often argued with Essex, although his charming personality meant that titles and offices were given to him.

He eventually fell out of favour with Elizabeth due to events in Ireland. He was sent to Ireland in 1599 to suppress and rebellion by the Earl of Tyrone. However, after agreeing to an unauthorised truce with Tyrone, Essex was placed under house arrest and stripped of his titles and offices. As a result of this, Essex attempted to organise a rebellion against Elizabeth. Essex was found guilty of treason and executed in 1601.

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