Monday, 12 June 2017

The May Weak Rebellion

[ May Week's in June. ]

The indictment charged Essex with "conspiring and imagining at London, . . . to depose and slay the Queen, and to subvert the Government."

 It also stated that Essex had "endeavored to raise himself to the Crown of England, and usurp the royal dignity," and that in order to fulfill these intentions, he and others "rose and assembled themselves in open rebellion, and moved and persuaded many of the citizens of London to join them in their treason, and endeavored to get the city of London into their possession and power, and wounded and killed many of the Queen's subjects then and there assembled for the purpose of quelling such rebellion." 

Essex was charged also with holding the Lord Keeper and the other Privy Councillors in custody "for four hours and more."

SEPTEMBER 1599 –The Irish campaign is a catastrophe.

In a land of bewildering bogs and mist, the beleaguered English soldiers are outnumbered and outsmarted. The disintegrating army is tired, diseased, demoralized. 

In desperation Essex meets with the rebel leader the Earl of Tyrone and agrees to a truce. 

Back in London the Queen confers with Cecil and in a fury sends back orders to break the truce and stay there and fight on to the bitter end. 

Essex and Southampton defiantly board a ship and land on English soil and ride three days and nights hell-bent to speak personally with Elizabeth. 

They arrive at dawn at the Palace of Nonesuch, where the Queen has just risen from her bed. 

Essex barges past all the guards into the Palace, pushing through the Pike-men and Chamber attendants, sword banging against his leg, brushing through the Presence Chamber to the Privy Chamber … and then charges right on through and without knocking bursts into the royal bedroom! 

Inside is a startled old woman who has not yet put on her thick paint and wig. 

Her gray wrinkled body is still half naked; strands of hair straggle down over a wizened face. 

The Queen is alone, defenseless, at the mercy of a wild man covered with mud, dripping with sweat, and now kneeling to kiss her hand. 

She smiles, pats her general on the head, and calmly suggests he go clean up and come back when she’s more … “properly prepared.” 

When he’s gone she puts him under house arrest and the once-great royal favorite will never see his sovereign mistress again, never. 

She bars Southampton from her presence and he, too, will never again see his mother the Queen. 

Cecil has made all the right moves; now for the end game!

FALL 1600 –

Queen Elizabeth turns sixty-seven; Robert Cecil has positioned himself to choose the next monarch when she dies. 

The earls have become increasingly desperate; whispers about rebellion are spreading –rumors of a palace coup against Cecil, led by England’s young nobility.

EARLY FEBRUARY 1601 –Southampton takes charge of planning for a surprise assault on Whitehall Palace. 

First move will be to capture Cecil; they’ll probably have to kill him; then Essex and Southampton will rush to see Elizabeth. 

She’ll come to her senses and call a Parliament on succession; to avoid civil war, she’ll even give up her Crown. 

What if she refuses?

Will they have to kill her, too? 

Members of the Essex faction pay the Lord Chamberlain’s acting company to give a special performance of a royal history play by “Shakespeare” –who, everyone knows, has dedicated his work to Southampton, co-leader of the coming revolt. 

The play is RICHARD THE SECOND, about a real English monarch forced to give up his crown. 

The conspirators are brazenly using “Shake-speare” and the public stage for political propaganda.


A brand new scene has been written and inserted showing King Richard actually HANDING OVER his crown, something being suggested for Elizabeth herself. 

Many conspirators sit right up on the stage behind the actors, cheering them on. 

That night Cecil sends agents summoning Essex to the Palace; and once again the proud earl does exactly what Robert Cecil knows he will do. 

He defies him. 

He won’t go.

The Essex Rebellion… 


A great crowd of armed men jostles around the courtyard of Essex House, itching for revolt. 

Cecil makes another move; he dispatches a royal delegation to bring the Earl to the palace. 

But the angry crowd takes the delegation HOSTAGE –an overt act of TREASON. 

Now there’s no turning back. 

In a panic Essex bolts out the gate, shouting: “For the Queen, for the Queen!” 

Hundreds follow him, racing through the streets, trying to get to the palace. 

But Cecil already has soldiers stationed at every corner and speakers already proclaiming: “Essex, traitor! Essex, traitor! Traitor! Traitor!” 

Citizens watching from windows and doorways are terrified, bewildered. 

Without support, the rebels fall into confusion and chaos, fighting and bloodshed, and finally mass arrests filling all the jails in London.


Essex and Southampton sink to their knees and surrender up their swords. 

The so-called Essex Rebellion is over before it can even begin.

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