Hugh Gazzard
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‘Idle papers’
An Apology of the Earl of Essex
in Essex
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By May 1600, the Earl of Essex had been under house arrest, first at York House, and latter at Essex House, in the custody of Sir Richard Berkeley. The Earl had been under house arrest ever since his unauthorised return from Ireland the previous September. Although Essex's disavowal of his own complicity in the print edition is convincing, his account of the earlier fate of his 'idle papers' is disingenuous. 'Idle papers' cannot possibly hide the importance to him of the Apology. The Apology is Essex's confession of his personal principles, a defence of his conduct in the campaigns against Spain, and a prospectus for the policy of continued prosecution, indeed escalation, of that war against 'an Idolatrous and irreligious Nation'. The Apology survives in at least forty-nine manuscript copies, evidently the product of concerted and sustained scribal publication.

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The cultural impact of an Elizabethan courtier


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