Their relationship has been seen as romantic, but Queen Elizabeth was born in 1533 and Robert Devereux the Earl of Essex was born in 1567 - Queen Elizabeth was 34 years older than her favorite. But Robert Devereux was ambitious and his ambitions were well founded. He had the care of the most important people in England - Queen Elizabeth, Robert Dudley the Earl of Leicester, and William Cecil, Lord Burghley.
But perhaps familiarity bred contempt, and arrogant Robert often failed to give the Queen the respect she deserved. In 1590, he incurred the Queen's severest displeasure by marrying Sir Philip Sidney's widow Frances, the daughter of Sir Francis Walsingham. But she forgave him and accepted him back at court. Essex was made Lord Lieutenant of Ireland - a post in which he failed dismally. In 1599 the Earl of Essex travelled to Ireland with over 17,000 English troops. Many of the English troops died of various diseases and the Earl of Essex agreed an unauthorised truce with O'Neill, the leader of the Irish rebels. Essex came back without leave; and one morning came straight into her dressing chamber, where she was sitting, with her thin grey hair being combed, before she put on one of her thirty wigs, or painted her face. She was very angry, and would not forgive him, and he got into a rage, too; and she heard he had said she was an old woman, crooked in temper as in person. What was far worse, he raised the Londoners to break out in a tumult to uphold him. His relationship with the Queen thus deteriorated and Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, attempted a political coup.
He lead a rebellion against Queen Elizabeth and attempted to seize control of the City of London on February 8th 1601. Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex was arrested and convicted of treason. Dressed in black, but with a bright red waistcoat, Essex was executed at the Tower of London on February 25, 1601. Over 100 people witnessed the execution - three strokes of the axe were needed to sever Essex's head. The Queen had signed his death warrant, but she grieved deeply at his death, and it troubled her until her own death, only two years later. Robert Devereux the 2nd Earl of Essex (1566 - 1601) - favorite of Queen Elizabeth I.
Famous Elizabethans - Robert Devereux the 2nd Earl of Essex - Soldier and Courtier
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