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Doubtful and dangerousThe question of succession in late Elizabethan England$
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Susan Doran and Paulina Kewes

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780719086069

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719086069.001.0001

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Essex and the ‘popish plot’

Essex and the ‘popish plot’

(p.115) Chapter 6 Essex and the ‘popish plot’
Doubtful and dangerous

Alexandra Gajda

Manchester University Press

On 8 February 1601 Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, processed into London declaring that he was taking urgent action to prevent a ‘popish plot’ by his enemies to sell the Crown of England to Spain. Historians have dismissed these claims as fictitious or deluded – the chapter reassesses Essex’s claims. The intellectual and political contexts that framed Essex’s vision of politics provided strong foundations for the Earl’s belief that the Protestant succession was endangered by a cabal of evil counsellors, headed by Sir Robert Cecil, in the pay of Spain. The failure of the earl’s rising obscures the fact that this Elizabethan succession scare was no more ‘irrational’ than the ‘popish plots’ in the seventeenth century.

Keywords:   Robert Devereux, second Earl of Essex, Essex rising, Sir Robert Cecil, evil counsel, Tacitus, Apologie, Robert Persons, Sir John Hayward, Regnum Cecilianum, James VI and I

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