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The Earl of Essex and Late Elizabethan Political Culture$
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Alexandra Gajda

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199699681

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199699681.001.0001

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Justifying war

Justifying war

(p.67) 2 Justifying war
The Earl of Essex and Late Elizabethan Political Culture

Alexandra Gajda

Oxford University Press

This chapter analyses the ideological contexts of Essex’s attitude towards the war with Spain. It is argued that the justification of aggressive anti-Spanish militarism in the 1590s was couched in a language far more secular than that of the 1570s and 1580s, and was framed to encompass the broadest confessional base of support for the war, condemning the Spanish as the scourge of Christendom. The earl’s aggressive militarism encouraged Hispanophobic condemnation of the secular tyranny of Philip II, which in itself promoted a deeper engagement with definitions of tyrannical government, and the general rights of subjects to resist tyrants. Divisions over the direction of the war also contributed to the earl’s downfall. Essex’s Apologie, written in 1598 to oppose propositions for a peace with Spain, contains the first sketch of Essex’s burgeoning belief that his domestic rivals were warming towards a dangerous pact to enthrone the Infanta.

Keywords:   earl of Essex, Christendom, Philip II, Spain, resistance, tyranny, war, peace

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