119: Our Earl is Shamed

Head and shoulders portrait of a ginger and white cat.
Linkin, now a leading authority on Ireland.

The Earl of Essex, our Earl, and their friend the Earl of Rutland came safe to Dublin, as Linkin sayt at our Revel.

Linkin knew this because the master of our household had friends in Mr Secretary’s service.

Better yet, the master had a friend whose brother is in Ireland.  This friend came to visit, bearing uskwibow [usquebaugh] his brother sent him.

“Stinking stuff,” sayt Linkin, “but very drying for any troubled by rheums, catarrs, and other wetnesses in the head.  As most folk are, in Ireland. 

“Last night in our master’s chamber this friend sayt that we in London know not the half of it.

“Twenty or thirty thousand Irish, wild Scots, and degenerate English are in arms against Queen Puss.  Many more of a rebellous disposition lurk in woods and bogs.

“Our soldiers found Dublin throng with people.  Some had come to welcome Essex.  Others were seeking shelter from the rebels.

“But who can tell friend from foe in such a country?  He that smiles at you today might cut your throat on the morrow.”

“In Dublin,” sayt Linkin, “Essex received the sword and sway of Ireland – which means he rules it for Queen Puss.  What’s left of it to rule, that is, for most is held by rebels.

“Next, he gave good places in the army to his friends, as is proper.  Our Earl was made General of the Horse.  Our Earl’s friend Sir Harry Daffers [Danvers] is Lieutenant of Horse.

“Essex wished to make all haste north for Ulcer [Ulster] where the rebels are strongest.  He sayt he would defeat their leader there.

“The Council of Ireland – like unto the Privy Council here – begged him to forbear. 

“They sayt there would not be grass enough for his horses before high summer.  Nor sufficient vittles for his men, because they must take with them beeves (cattle) on foot.

“How could these and other necessaries go safe with the soldiers when there are rebels all about?

“This Council sayt ’twere best to settle the south first.  Take vittles and new men to the forts that were sore set upon, and out of heart.

“Good advices,” sayt Linkin.

A misty landscape of hills and shrubs, from a photo by David Brooks.

So they went south, through misty moisty ways where sprites and shadows shot at them by day, and sought to steal their horses when they made camp at night.

Then a body of rebels about 200 strong showed theirselves.  Our Earl and his men rode at them in good order.

The rebels did what they do best.  Withdrew into a bog and thence to the woods, doubtless waiting to kill any that followed.

One fool did follow, with his men.  Lord Grey, who wished to play the hero.

None was killed or hurt, but our Earl the General was displeased, for he’d forbade such pursuits.

That night Lord Grey was punished for his disobedience.  He was kept in the custody of the Marshall of the Army.

“No great hardship,” sayt Linkin.  “For this Marshall is married to Essex’s mother.  He would have had good lodgings.”

But Lord Grey turned cowbaby, and writ home wailing of his usage.  His friends ran to Queen Puss.  What did her most Gracious Majestie do?

She commanded her Council – Privy by name and a privy by nature, say I – to tell Essex that our Earl must lose his place as General of the Horse.  Another should have it in his stead.

Linkin sayt that Mr Secretary [Sir Robert Cecil] thought she were too hasty.  He held the letter for five days, in hopes she’d change her mind.

But no.

Linkin told me our poor Earl would not yet know that Queen Puss had shamed him.

I arrkst Linkin, “How many rebels must there be in a country before none dare name them rebel?”

He sayt he would think on it.

Queen Elizabeth. This portrait was painted some years after she died; Death is looking over her left shoulder. Via Wikimedia Commons.

Toutparmoi - Note from the EditorThe Earl of Essex arrived in Dublin in April 1599, and made the formal appointments of his officers after receiving the sword of state.

Queen Elizabeth hadn’t pre-approved the Earl of Southampton’s appointment as General of the Horse, but whether or not she’d actually vetoed it isn’t clear.

Essex certainly knew she was against the appointment, but it wasn’t until June – after the kerfuffle with Lord Grey – that she took exception.

“Grey” seems to have been an unlucky name for the Southampton household.

Tricks’ uncle Gib was terrorised and then recruited by a sinister spy cat he knew as Grey, and Tricks will certainly have more to say about Lord Grey (1575 -1614).

The Sir Harry (Henry) Danvers Tricks mentions is one of the brothers the Earl of Southampton helped flee the country after Henry Long was killed.

Another friend on the campaign was John Harington, of water-closet fame.  A cousin had warned him before he left England that he would be in dangerous company – meaning that of Essex and any enemies he might have within the army, not the rebels.  John was advised to watch what he said, and keep a journal of events.

It seems the political climate in the army may have been almost as fraught as it was in London.


34 thoughts on “119: Our Earl is Shamed

    • larrypaulbrown January 11, 2018 / 2:08 pm

      I suppose I should stay away from usquebaugh. That cure, for me, would be worse than the ailment.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Rachel McAlpine January 11, 2018 / 1:18 pm

    Tricks has excelled herself this time with spelling (Ulcer, notably) and canny political analysis: “How many rebels must there be in a country before none dare name them rebel?” Indeed1

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rachel McAlpine January 11, 2018 / 1:19 pm

      I meant “Indeed!” Serves me right for exclamation mark extravagance.

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi January 11, 2018 / 1:27 pm

      It’s the sort of question a rebelsome cat like Tricks would ask.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Christine Valentor January 11, 2018 / 5:28 pm

    Sounds like a really chaotic time, and perhaps a test of wills between Essex and the Queen. That portrait of Elizabeth is one of the creepiest! I wonder how long after her death it was painted?

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi January 11, 2018 / 7:51 pm

      According to Wikimedia the portrait was painted around 1610-1620. It’s a pity I couldn’t find a lighter version. The face looks like it’s based on a portrait that was done late in her life.

      I agree, the last years of Elizabeth’s reign do sound chaotic, and I suspect her court was getting out of control. Or the control mechanisms she’d used in the past weren’t working so well.

      I’m not sure if the real test of wills was so much between Essex and the Queen as between Essex and Sir Robert Cecil – though the Queen’s military men often seem to have found her difficult to deal with. It was easier to ask forgiveness than permission – though any request for forgiveness needed to be accompanied by success and the spoils of war.

      Neither success nor spoils were likely to be forthcoming from Ireland in a hurry!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Christine Valentor January 12, 2018 / 5:07 pm

      I always liked the movie Anonymous, even though it portrays Bess as a bit of a senile old hag in the last years of her reign. It is a great exploration of the relationship between Robert Cecil, Essex and others. I am sure it was a huge power grab as they anticipated the Queen’s death.

      Can’t wait to hear more of the cats’ reports on Ireland!

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi January 12, 2018 / 7:49 pm

      I’ve watched some nasty power games being played in organisations I’ve worked in over the years, and I’m sure many of Queen Puss’s courtiers could have made those creeps look like beginners.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Christine Valentor January 13, 2018 / 3:28 pm

      Oh yes, totally! The ruthlessness must have been astounding! It always seems to me like the had more at stake than anyone would nowadays.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. April Munday January 11, 2018 / 7:54 pm

    Tricks is lucky to have such good, and reliable, information about the earl. The poor man is certainly proving to be unfortunate in his friends. I wonder if he protested about being given such a position.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi January 11, 2018 / 8:26 pm

      Linkin was always a reliable source for London gossip. Now he’s back in the city he’s doing even better.

      The combination of Ireland and court in-fighting is truly bewildering. I can’t work out whether Queen Elizabeth was really so hostile to him personally, or whether he just got caught in the crossfire between her and Essex, and/or Sir Robert Cecil and Essex.
      The Earl certainly wouldn’t have protested about being given the position; it was his chance to shine.

      Liked by 1 person

    • April Munday January 11, 2018 / 10:03 pm

      I suspect it might have been as hard to tell then, as well.

      At least the earl seems to have been a good and sensible soldier. She should probably have allowed him to continue on that basis alone.

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi January 12, 2018 / 8:09 am

      It’s a pity none of the Earl’s letters home from Ireland seem to have survived, though there’s a fair number to him among the Cecil papers. Presumably these were seized when he was arrested after the Essex uprising.

      Liked by 1 person

    • April Munday January 12, 2018 / 8:47 am

      They might yet be found up a chimney. I was listening to a podcast yesterday which mentioned once-important documents which had been used to block drafts in chimneys and discovered centuries later by builders during renovations.

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi January 12, 2018 / 9:31 am

      Oh, I do hope so. But when Elizabethans sent each other risky letters, they sometimes included the postscript ‘Burn this when you have read it’.

      Not all such were burnt, but a devoted wife like Elizabeth Vernon would surely have done so.

      Liked by 1 person

    • April Munday January 12, 2018 / 8:31 pm

      That’s the other way that bits of letters have been saved. When they were put on the fire, they went up the chimney. In those cases bits of the letters are missing. There’s still some hope that they were burnt carelessly.

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi January 12, 2018 / 9:40 pm

      Well, it would be great if some of them did come to light.

      I suppose I should just be grateful that the cats’ papers survived.


  4. Timi Townsend January 12, 2018 / 12:42 am

    toutparmoi, another great post–both entertaining and educational! I have gotten behind in my post-reading, but hope to stay up-to-date from now on! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi January 12, 2018 / 9:01 am

      Oh, please do. Tricks lived in interesting times and things could get very “interesting” soon…

      Liked by 2 people

    • Timi Townsend January 12, 2018 / 9:22 am

      Ah, a tantalizing reply! Now I WILL indeed stay up-to-date! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. dornahainds January 12, 2018 / 6:46 am

    Nice to know that even on foreign lands, the problem of England nip at every diplomats’ footing.. 😎🥀

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi January 12, 2018 / 9:15 am

      “Nip” is the word. I feel sorry for the Earl of Essex, and the nipping has only just started.


  6. kidsofthe50sand60s January 15, 2018 / 3:40 am

    Another informative and entertaining post with great illustrations and excellent historical details at the end!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. chattykerry January 18, 2018 / 8:29 am

    My Irish Nana believed that hot toddies containing usquebaugh cured everything from concussion to an infection. My mum had to take me to ER drunk…

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi January 18, 2018 / 8:33 am

      That sounds like a tale worth telling on your blog. I swear by usquebaugh as a treatment for colds and sore throats, but I don’t think I’d apply it more widely than that.

      Liked by 1 person

    • chattykerry January 18, 2018 / 8:39 am

      Now I can’t stand the taste of whisky because it reminds me of being ill…

      Liked by 1 person

  8. 15andmeowing January 18, 2018 / 4:12 pm

    Excellent post, I learned a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi January 18, 2018 / 9:44 pm

      Thanks! I’m a bit behind on my reading of other people’s blogs at the moment, but I hope to have a good look at your soon.


  9. colonialist January 27, 2018 / 10:14 am

    With that General spot of bother, I wonder what Grey’s version of the incident that led to it was?


    • toutparmoi January 27, 2018 / 1:31 pm

      I’m not aware of any contemporary record, but I wouldn’t mind betting that Grey claimed he was being singled out because he refused to takes sides in the now intense rivalry between Sir Robert Cecil and the Earl of Essex. Or because he was on Sir Robert Cecil’s side (read “the Queen’s”).

      Factions were always rife at Elizabeth’s Court – as they still are in any political environment – but towards the end of her reign they seem to have been running out of control.

      Grey appears to have been a difficult young man, certainly not lacking in courage, but perhaps one whose estimation of his own abilities exceeded other people’s.

      Liked by 1 person

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