The Earl of Essex had many enemies at Court. They decided that the best way to eliminate him was to give him enough rope to hang himself.
They persuaded Queen Elizabeth to let him lead a campaign in Ireland to put down the Irish rebellion…
The campaign in Ireland proved a disaster…..
The Irish ran circles round poor Essex…..
And the charismatic rebel, the Earl of Tyrone….
…….all but persuaded Essex to join forces with the Irish instead…
And back at the Court, The Fox (Sir Walter Raleigh) and The Ape (Sir Robert Cecil) were bad-mouthing Essex to the Queen…..
To defend himself, Essex rushed back, unbidden, from Ireland…..
He burst into the Queen’s morning chamber before Elizabeth had time to put on her wig or make-up……
His enemies said he was like Acteon who had gazed on the naked moon-Goddess, Diana…
…..and like Acteon, was destined to be torn apart….
Essex was put under house-arrest and Shakespeare realised the plot was doomed.
Half the Essex entourage wanted to go ahead with rebellion, the other half wanted appeasement with the Queen.
Shakespeare favoured appeasement and appealed to the Queen for clemency: he painted her as Olivia in Twelfth Night….
…..a beautiful, thoughtful, woman, with a heart full of love, unexpectedly running a great household after the death of her father and brother……
She is surrounded by adoring, love-sick suitors like Orsino…..
And Sir Andrew Aguecheek….
…….but threatened by a false-hearted Malvolio….
This was Shakespeare’s last collaboration with Nashe…..
……who played and wrote Feste, the jester….
But Essex was determined to rebel against the Queen.
Less than a month after the first night of Twelfth Night Essex took to the streets…
A fortnight after that he was beheaded…..
To read, the Introduction to ‘Twelfth Night Decoded’, please click: HERE
To read Queen Elizabeth as Olivia, please click: HERE
To read Feste the Clown as Thomas Nashe, please click: HERE
To read Sir Toby Belch as George, Lord Hunsdon, please click: HERE
To read Malvolio as Sir Walter Raleigh, please click: HERE
To read Orsino as the Earl of Essex, please click: HERE
To read Sir Andrew Aguecheek and Gullio, please click: HERE
To read Sir Andrew Aguecheek as the third Earl of Southampton, please click: HERE
To read Viola’s ‘Willow Speech’ Decoded, please click: HERE