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February 8

In 1601, on this morning Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex led a party of nobles and gentlemen into the city of London in an attempt to force an audience at Court only to discover that the Queen had expired during the night and the Government was in the hands of his chief adversary Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury.

Essex RebellionHis status of court favourite destroyed by the Cecil Family, he had attempted to restore his support amongst the aristocracy by talking himself into the leadership of the military expedition to Ireland. By the end of his time as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, more than half the knights in England owed their rank to Essex. The rebels were said to have joked that "he never drew sword but to make knights".

Relying on his general warrant given under the great seal, Essex sailed from Ireland even though the Queen had expressly forbidden his return and was surprised when he presented himself in her bedchamber one morning at Nonsuch Palace, before she was properly wigged or gowned. On that day, the Privy Council met three times, and it seemed his disobedience might go unpunished, although the Queen did confine him to his rooms with the comment that "an unruly beast must be stopped of his provender".

Brought before the Privy Council and cross-examined by Robert Cecil, he was stripped of public office and confined to York House. In August his freedom was granted, but the source of his basic income, the sweet wines monopoly was not renewed. His situation had become desperate, and he shifted "from sorrow and repentance to rage and rebellion". In early 1601, he began to fortify Essex House, his town mansion on the Strand, and gathered his followers. And persuaded the Sheriff of London call out the Trayned Bands on his behalf.

As the Essex Rebellion reached a bloody climax, King James VI of Scotland struck across the border.
This post is a reversal of Robbie Taylor's King Robert article and continues the Tudor B*stards thread.