‘How many would the peaceful city quit, / To welcome him’?: The Earl of Essex on Parade
To date, there has been no in-depth investigation of the many contemporary depictions of Robert Devereux, second Earl of Essex, on parade. This is an unfortunate omission because parades were an important part of Essex’s identity, especially his public self-presentation. The elements and implications of his parades provide insight as to how he presented himself and was understood by others, which in turn provides a more complete understanding of his impact on the collective Elizabethan imagination. Essex’s parades consistently and overtly highlighted deeply popular aspects of his public image. This public image could easily be seen as offering a comparison, often a contrast, to the queen’s progresses, the most famous Elizabethan parades. The fact that Essex offered a contrast to the queen underlines the potential problems of his presenting himself publicly in a manner that might suggest an alternative to the monarch. This aspect of his parades came into stark relief during the 1601 Essex uprising, which is instructively seen as a failed version of his previous parades.
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