135:  Horse-Shaming or Treason?

Tricks - A fluffy white, black and orange cat, looking thoughtful.I was both pleased and troubled by the newes of Snakes-Purr.

Pleased because I knew where the villain might be found, and troubled because it were over the river.  Even Picker and Stealer had not set paw there. 

A cat cannot stand upon the stairs and call for a boat as men and women do.  To go, we must cross the bridge while the river roars below.

A stone bridge with narrow arches, lined with buildings - though there are gaps, including al least one with a drawbridge to allow tall-masted ships to pass.
A calm view of the magnificent edifice that was Old London Bridge, by Claude de Jongh c.1632.
The arches created rapids which only the foolhardy risked shooting, and lavatories – public and domestic – on the bridge created another hazard for people passing underneath.
Head and shoulders portrait of a ginger and white cat.

Linkin had not been idle while I made my enquiries.  He’d heard our master speak of the brave doings of our Earl, who’d gone to the war in Ireland again.

Then we learnt that Lord Mountjoy – he that took Essex’s place as Lord Deputie – wished to offer our Earl the place of Governor of Connawt [Connaught].  The Irish rebels had won a great fight with the last governor and killed him.  To their sorrow, for they held him to be an honest man. 

Queen Puss sayt: No.  Our Earl could not have his place.

So our poor Earl, knowing he could never do more in Ireland than serve as a common captain, resolved to go into the Low Countries and aid our Hollander friends against Spain.

It was not onlie our Earl who lacked a good place.  The Earl of Essex had lost all his in the Queen’s household as punishment for his disobediences.

“His enemies have not done with him yet,” swore Linkin.  “They wished to try him for treason, but could find no proofs of it.”

“Treason?” sayt I.  “For entering Queen Puss’s bedchamber unarrkst?”

“No,” sayt Linkin.  “They believe he hatcht a plot with the Arch-Rebel Tire-Own.  None knows what they spake of private.  Each left his soldiers behind him and rode alone to parley.  In a river.”

“In a river?” I cried.  (Sure, that dire land makes all mad.  They know not earth from water.)

The Arch-Rebel: Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone (c1550-1616).
Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0.

Then I had a cunning thought.  The horse Essex sat upon knew what they spake of, and his friends would too.

I resolved to visit the stables at Essex House.

That were a night that tried my patience.

“Know you,” I arrkst the horses, “what treason your lord spake when he met the Arch-Rebel of Ireland?”

“Say now,” sayt one.  “Do we know what treason he spake?”

“Yea,” all sighed.  “We do.”

Then the fools fell silent, thinking they’d given me an answer.

I begged them tell me more.

I will not vex myself anew by setting down all that passed between us, but I learnt that the Arch-Rebel sayt he wished onlie for freedom of religion.

And Essex told him to be hanged.  For (sayt Essex) you care no more for religion than does my horse.

Then the horses, having uttered these words, all fell to snorting and sighing, so grieved were they.

“But heard you owt that was traitorous?” arrkst I.

“Yea,” sayt all.  “That were traitorous.”

And they lamented that they should be so distained after their heroick actions in the field when they was in daily dread of being killed and ate by the Irishes.

I sayt, “Then you should have cast Essex from your back for shaming you before the Arch-Rebel.”

“Nay,” sayt one horse.  “The rebel horse stood most respective with his belly in the river.  He were as shamed as I.”

“Yea,” sayt all.  “That Irish horse and his friends were as shamed as we.”

And I got no more from the dullards.

Sayt I to Linkin, “I never heard that horse-shaming was accounted treason.”

“Be that as it may,” sayt Linkin, judicial.  “The axe is being sharped.  All that remains is for Essex to fall under it.”

An engraving of two men on horseback. The Earl of Essex is on the bank, the Earl of Tyrone is in the river.
The meeting between the Earl of Essex and the Earl of Tyrone.
The English text at the bottom of the picture says ‘Tyrone desired a parley with the Lord Lieutenant’.
The Latin text says ‘The sons of iniquity act with cunning’.

Toutparmoi - Note from the Editor

Vetoing the Earl of Southampton’s appointment as Governor of Connaught was a bad move on Queen Elizabeth’s part.

Was she still punishing him for marrying Bess Vernon without permission, or was there more to it?  If she suspected him of egging the Earl of Essex on, she’d have done better to give him some incentive to stay in Ireland.

In June 1600 Essex had been formally deprived of his appointments: Earl Marshal of England, Master of the Ordnance, Master of the Queen’s Horse, and Privy Councillor.

Speaking alone with the Earl of Tyrone was an extraordinarily risky thing for Essex to have done, though it was only the first of several meetings.  According to historian Paul E. J. Hammer[1] the Attorney-General Sir Edward Coke was convinced that Essex had cut a deal with Tyrone.   “… Essex and Tyrone had conspired with the Pope and perhaps also with Spain to ensure Tyrone’s control of Ireland, open toleration of Catholicism, and Essex’s succession to the throne.  Coke could never quite prove this case because this conspiracy did not actually happen. … Nevertheless, these allegations of an Irish and Popish plot reflected what [Essex’s] enemies continued to believe about him.”

[1] Shakespeare’s Richard II, the Play of 7 February 1601, and the Essex Rising in Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol 59, No.1, Spring 2008 pp. 1-35


19 thoughts on “135:  Horse-Shaming or Treason?

  1. April Munday June 14, 2018 / 6:24 pm

    I can see why the axe was being sharpened. It’s as if everyone involved was robbed of their common-sense, except Sir Robert.

    Liked by 2 people

    • toutparmoi June 15, 2018 / 9:41 am

      Political paranoia. The idea that Essex hatched a Popish plot with Tyrone is as bizarre as the one that Sir Robert Cecil was eyeing the Spanish Infanta as a successor to Queen Elizabeth.

      Mind you, paranoia’s highly contagious. As I typed the words about Southampton’s lack of incentive to stay in Ireland, I found myself thinking that maybe that’s the way “they” wanted it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • April Munday June 15, 2018 / 6:32 pm

      I suppose that having or being an aged queen with no designated successor would lead to paranoia.

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi June 16, 2018 / 9:53 am

      Yes. And there were other causes of alarm, like the mixed messages from Spain re peace. The King in Madrid was as hostile as ever while the Infanta in Brussels seemed amiably inclined.

      Plus, Essex and friends considered the Queen to be governed by an unscrupulous few with little interest in the good of the realm. The pot, of course, was being stirred by skillful hard-line Catholic propagandists in Europe.

      Liked by 1 person

    • April Munday June 16, 2018 / 6:26 pm

      I’m surprised Essex thought about the good of the realm. He’s usually presented as one of the unscrupulous, self-serving few.

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi June 16, 2018 / 9:47 pm

      Essex has had an unfair press and more than his fair share of detractors, but – walking disaster area as he became – I don’t think he could be described as corrupt or unscrupulous. His Irish campaign may have been an expensive failure, but nobody accused him of lining his pockets along the way. And if he was such a bad lot, surely more credible charges could have been laid against him?

      With regard to the good of the realm, Alexandra Gajda’s book (which I’ve not yet read cover-to-cover) contains an interesting discussion of how Essex may have perceived his role of Earl Marshal – one of preserving ‘virtuous government’.

      On the downside, I suspect he thought he was the only royal servant capable of judging what virtuous government was.

      Liked by 1 person

    • April Munday June 17, 2018 / 4:01 am

      I think I’m far too influenced by the recent BBC documentary on the Cecils. It was very much black and white in favour of them and against Essex. And, with the benefit of hindsight, I know what comes next.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Christine Valentor June 16, 2018 / 9:49 am

    It is fascinating, and disturbing, about how crazy it all was — plots, treason, paranoia. All for “religion” but not really about religion at all. It reminds me of the way modern political parties behave.

    I never knew — or even thought about — lavatories on the London Bridge! Yuck!

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi June 16, 2018 / 10:22 am

      The more I dig into it, the creepier the whole situation seems. A lot of it does sound disturbingly familiar.

      Now I’m wondering about the logistics of Queen Elizabeth going downriver by barge from Westminster to, say, her palace at Greenwich. There was at least one drawbridge in the Bridge that could open to allow tall-masted ships through. Perhaps the royal barge passed under that?

      Liked by 2 people

    • Christine Valentor June 16, 2018 / 10:36 am

      Creepy is exactly right! As I read the history of many religious wars, my theory became that the plan was to 1) Focus on to some emotional issue. (In Bess’ time, Transubstantiation worked, in modern times they used abortion, gay rights, etc,) Then 2) Rile up the people over the issue. Then 3) Gain power and money for yourself through the debate. In the end it actually has NOTHING to do with said issue…

      Yes, I think the barge must have gone under the drawbridge!

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi June 16, 2018 / 10:40 am

      That theory works. Ultimately, it’s about being Top Cat with all the cream. Which is why Tricks, Linkin and friends understand politicks so well.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. mitchteemley June 28, 2018 / 12:45 am

    Horse-shaming: a narsty business in sooth. Imagine if they’d had Facebook back then.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi June 28, 2018 / 2:14 pm

      Just as well they didn’t! The powers-that-be had enough difficulty controlling the printing presses, the poets, and the preachers.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. colonialist July 2, 2018 / 7:07 am

    The two captions on that meeting are passing strange. (The river water was certainly passing.}
    Was the Latin one a Papist version?

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi July 2, 2018 / 11:00 am

      I don’t think so. The illustration comes from a book describing sundry plots and villains of Queen Elizabeth’s reign. The Latin tag refers only to Tyrone. I wondered if it was a quote from a classical writer.

      Liked by 1 person

    • colonialist July 3, 2018 / 3:54 am

      Could be something from Horace, Virgil, Ovid, Ambrose, Irenaeus or trotted out by a left or right one of the Sneakers — I mean, Senecas — younger or elder.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. kidsofthe50sand60s July 7, 2018 / 6:17 am

    I am not even a cat-loving person but I really enjoy your blog posts! I’m just catching up on the latest few after a bit of time away from the blog scene. Wonderful post, beautifully illustrated as always.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi July 7, 2018 / 8:35 am

      Welcome back! I had a few weeks away from the blog scene recently too, so I’ve got some catching up to do on blogs as well.


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