129:  What Linkin Knew

Onix – the fragrant cat from the apothecary’s.

Linkin sayt I’d grown hawtie and uppish at Essex House.  And that I stunk worse than Onix.

Sure, he was envious.

My new scents made our mistress most curious.  She oft lifted me in her arms to nose my fur.  She sayt I’d been among ladies who used sweet perfumes.  But she could not guess where.

I did not tell her.

Linkin tried to take me down a peg.

He sayt, “You might believe that you and all at Essex House are the world’s wide wonder, but I know different.  Look to your safety.  Plats are being hatcht against your fine friends, even as they hatch their own.”

Then he fell to boasting of all the talk he’d heard of late.

He sayt, “Queen Puss is much offended by the soldiers coming hither from Ireland.  They’re idle rogues all sworn to Essex, and run loose about this citie drinking to his health and his enemies’ damnation.  Then they can scarce pay for their booze.”

And, “Before Essex agreed the truce with Tire-Own [Tyrone], chief of all the rebels, he had private speech with him.  What did Essex promise that arch-traytor?”

Chief of all the rebels, arch-traytor:  Hugh O’Neill, 2nd Earl of Tyrone (c1550-1616).
Via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0.

And, “Tire-Own is a saucie knave that Queen Puss raised from blacksmith’s son to Earl.  He sent her a list of conditions that would leave her Queen of Ireland in nowt but name. 

And, “Were his demands granted, he’d chase all good protestants out of Ireland.  The Spanish would help him do it.”

And, “Essex is not sick.  He’s fayning [feigning], so as to evade justice.”

“Justice, Master Law Cat?” arrkst I.  “What proofs have you of his treachery?”

Linkin looked shamed.  “I did not say I believed all this talk.  I’m warning you, that’s all.”

“Well,” sayt I, “it’s true that Essex made our Earl a General, and bestowed knighthoods on men he could not otherwise reward.  Nor can any deny that he returned for discourse with Queen Puss without her say so.  Worser yet, he left both the rule of Ireland and our army in the hands of loyal men.  What villainy!”

Linkin sayt, “With such a spirit as Essex has, and so great an army as he took to Ireland, he might have passed clean through Spain.”

“True,” sayt I.  “For the Spanish fight like men.  The Irishes are suttle, and fight like us cats.”

Linkin gave me sour looks, for that was the verie argument he’d have used to another cat.

“And what of Spain?” I arrkst.  “I hear tell that Mr Secretary [Sir Robert Cecil] is fire-hot to make peace with that nation, even though their new King hates us.”

Linkin sayt, “I believe the talks of peace will not be with their King, but with his sister.  But there’s no truth in the rumour that Mr Secretary hopes to see the old King of Spain’s daughter take the place of Queen Puss.”

The King of Spain’s daughter: Isabella with her husband Albrecht, Archduke of Austria.

That made me merry.  I’d learnt from soldiers’ talk at Essex House that the Irishes call wine the King of Spain’s daughter.

“Tragedie!” sang I.  “Her goodly cask would better grace the throne than Queen Puss’s carcass.  And think how merry the Westminster parlement might be if all the lords and gentlemen could enjoy her!”

And so joyed was I by my own wit I ran around the hall like a mad thing.

Then, after Linkin had settled himself by the fire, I cried, “I’ll show you an Irish fight!” and leapt on him from behind.

The mistress called me a little stirrer, and cast me out the door.

There’s no justice in this world.

But was I troubled?

No.  I was full of excitations.

Toutparmoi - Note from the EditorAs Linkin knew, Tricks was right.

The Earl of Essex had not committed any crime, and he’d admitted he’d made mistakes.  He was also on the verge of mental and physical breakdown.  It was becoming difficult to justify keeping him under house arrest – and that not even in his own house.  Some of his fellow Privy Councillors may have favoured releasing him, but Queen Elizabeth felt some form of punishment was necessary.

Hugh O’Neill, 2nd Earl of Tyrone (c.1550-1616) was a remarkable man.  The earldom of Tyrone had been created by Henry VIII, and when Hugh was born his father Matthew was heir to it.  Other O’Neills had different ideas, and put it about that Matthew was the illegitimate son of a blacksmith.

Accounts of his life vary; this one (linked) dates from the 1870s.  The first Essex mentioned in it is Walter Devereux, the Earl of Essex’s father. 

In the 1550s the young Hugh may have spent some time in the Dublin household of Sir Henry Sidney (later a Lord Deputy of Ireland).  Later, presumably as a result of O’Neill rivalries, Hugh became a supporter of Walter Devereux.

However, his growing power in Ulster and the fact that he began corresponding with both Spain and Scotland made the English uneasy, to put it mildly.  This eventually brought him into conflict with the Crown, and open rebellion.  His list of conditions for peace, upon which Sir Robert Cecil scrawled “Ewtopia”, would, if met, have made Ireland a self-governing, Roman Catholic state under the Queen’s Viceroy.


14 thoughts on “129:  What Linkin Knew

  1. April Munday March 22, 2018 / 3:45 am

    I must confess I’m lost. Why would Sir Robert want to put the king of Spain’s daughter on the throne?

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi March 22, 2018 / 11:54 am

      I’m sure he wouldn’t have, but…
      Elizabeth (66) was still refusing to name her successor. That meant others were keen to find one for her.

      The Infanta Isabella was descended from John of Gaunt.
      Her father, Philip II, had left her and her husband rulers of the Spanish Netherlands. Based in Brussels, they seemed more inclined to peace than Philip III (in Madrid) did.

      Philip III was willing to support his sister if she made a bid for the English throne.

      There were potential English claimants, too, e.g. Arbella Stuart and the descendants of Jane Grey’s sister Catherine. But by the end of 1599 the smart money seemed to be on either protestant James VI of Scotland, or Catholic Isabella. (The wily Hugh O’Neill may have fancied backing both.)

      In such a climate, it’s easy to see how the even wilier Sir Robert Cecil’s “secret” peace feelers could have aroused suspicion. Sir Robert’s father had been instrumental in the execution of James’s mother, so how did James feel about him? Was Sir Robert busy ingratiating himself with the alternative candidate?

      Liked by 3 people

    • April Munday March 22, 2018 / 7:29 pm

      Now I understand. I knew that he had made overtures to the Protestant James who also had Tudor blood and that makes sense to me. If Isabella had Plantagenet blood that also makes some kind of sense, but much less. After Mary there couldn’t have been much taste for another Catholic monarch and going all the way back to John of Gaunt a century after the Wars of the Roses had ended seems a bit desperate. Having said that, getting the Hannovers on the throne a century later required going back some way. By that point, though, there couldn’t be a Catholic monarch – not without bloodshed.

      It’s a shame we don’t have people of Sir Robert’s calibre these days.


    • toutparmoi March 22, 2018 / 9:41 pm

      James was the obvious choice, but – just as I never realised what a frightening thing the Armada of 1588 must have been – I didn’t know that in 1599 he wasn’t a sure bet.


    • April Munday March 22, 2018 / 11:38 pm

      It’s not really a surprise that people tried to take things into their own hands.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. colonialist March 22, 2018 / 8:05 am

    A witty discourse on some very confusing politics!
    By the bye: I wonder if Isabella really was taller than Albrecht?

    Liked by 2 people

    • toutparmoi March 22, 2018 / 11:58 am

      I wondered the same, but decided it may be all about status. Or else she’s wearing high heels.


  3. Timi Townsend March 23, 2018 / 1:08 am

    I would like to run about the hall like a mad thing, too, when I contemplate the human goings-on (aka politics) in Elizabeth I’s court. 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi March 23, 2018 / 8:35 am

      That’s politics for you, then and now.


  4. Christine Valentor March 24, 2018 / 2:39 pm

    Dangerous times indeed. The more I read about these eras, the more I see just how treacherous everything was. I suspect the Queen never felt safe in all her lifetime.

    But at least Essex and Southampton were fond of cats 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi March 24, 2018 / 6:09 pm

      And the cats are only scraping the surface of all the intrigue! Queen Puss’s reason for not naming her successor was that he/she would then have an incentive to do away with her, but by the last years of her reign, not naming James VI was a mistake. He wasn’t a warlike man, and I’m sure he’d have been quite happy to sit in Scotland for a few more years.

      Liked by 3 people

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