The Tudor Society
  • 28 September 1599 – Robert Devereux upsets Elizabeth I

    On this day in history, 28th September 1599, Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, strode into Queen Elizabeth I’s bedchamber unannounced and saw the Queen without her makeup or wig, without her “mask of youth”.

    Essex had been confirmed as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland on 30th December 1598 and he left England on 27th March 1599, arriving in Dublin on 14 April. His campaign against the Irish was unsuccessful. Essex had assumed that he’d be able to defeat the Earl of Tyrone and his men quickly, but as things dragged on he became disillusioned with the situation. Exhaustion, disillusionment and a fear that his enemies at court were undermining him and influencing the queen against him, led to him giving up on the Irish situation, making a truce with the Irish rebel leader (against the qqueen’s wishes) and returning to England without the queen’s permission. This amounted to desertion and disobedience, something which Elizabeth I could not and would not tolerate

    Devereux rushed back to court at Nonsuch Palace to offer an explanation but ended up making things worse when he strode into the queen’s bedchamber unannounced while she was getting ready:

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