Chris Butler
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‘Bringing rebellion broached on his sword’
Essex and Ireland
in Essex
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The short tenure of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, as Lieutenant of Ireland involved a complex web of connections, linking senior political figures, such as Robert Cecil and Hugh O'Neill, the 'rebel' Earl of Tyrone. In both A View and The Faerie Queene, Ireland figures as a place where militant Protestantism, which Essex was perceived to champion, could confirm the justice of its cause. Shakespeare, like Spenser, possibly regarded Essex as a means to effect regime change. This would explain why play after play contains figures available to be read as policy indicators for Essex. In 1753 Henry Jones's The Earl of Essex: A Tragedy in Five Acts was performed in London. It shows 'Burleigh', Robert Cecil, as a schemer viewing Ireland as exile for Essex but also spawning ground for rebellion and invasion.

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The cultural impact of an Elizabethan courtier


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