Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex

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Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, KG (10 November 1565[1] – 25 February 1601) was an English nobleman and a favourite of Elizabeth I. Politically ambitious, and a committed general, he was placed under house arrest following a poor campaign in Ireland during the Nine Years' War in 1599. In 1601 he led an abortive coup d'état against the government and was executed for treason.


Early life

Essex was born on 10 November 1565 at Netherwood near Bromyard, in Herefordshire, the son of Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex and Lettice Knollys. His maternal great-grandmother Mary Boleyn was a sister of Anne Boleyn, mother of Queen Elizabeth I, making him a cousin of the Queen, and there were rumours that his grandmother, Catherine Carey, a close friend of Queen Elizabeth's, was Henry VIII's illegitimate daughter.[2]

He was brought up on his father's estates at Chartley Castle, Staffordshire and at Lamphey, Pembrokeshire in Wales and educated at Trinity College, Cambridge.[3] His father died in 1576, The new Earl of Essex became a ward of Lord Burghley. On 21 September 1578 his mother married Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, Elizabeth I's long-standing favourite and Robert Devereux's godfather.[4]

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