Elizabeth I's Last Favourite Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex by Sarah-Beth Watkins
Handsome, clever and privileged, the step-son of Queen Elizabeth I's favourite Robert Dudley, young Robert Devereux had the world at his feet. A brave soldier, scholarly and interesting, he captivated the much older Queen. He even started his own intelligence network - he had a finger in many pies! However, pride got the better of him in the end and he went too far, leading to a sad and ignominious end.
Sarah-Beth Watkins provides a sympathetic and comprehensive look at this famous Tudor man, including letters and extracts from documents written at the time. She shines a light on his exploits in the wars, his relationship with his friends, and his exceedingly volatile relationship with the Queen. I found the account of his strange friendship with Raleigh especially interesting. As they were both tempestuous and arrogant, it could perhaps be said that they just didn't understand each other. Devereux's disobedience and his impetuous nature coupled with her favouritism probably led him to think that he could do what he liked, but it was not to be. His final military adventures in Ireland were just too much for him, and he couldn't cope.
It has often been implied that the Queen could not overcome her fury when Essex famously burst into her bedchamber, and found her in a state of undress, and that this was even part of a subconscious reason for his execution.. He was headed for a downfall after this, but he answered this charge, and the Queen's attitude towards him was softening, according to Watkins.
I always enjoy Sarah-Beth Watkin's biographies, and this was even better than usual. It is certainly a worthwhile read for any Tudor fan.
I received this free ebook from Chronos Books, an imprint of John Hunt Publishing, in return for an honest review.