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The Tudors – Faction in the Tudor Court, 1509-1603

5. Was there an Essex faction?

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In this module, we ask whether there was a faction surrounding Robert Deveraux, the Earl of Essex, focusing in particular on: (i) the figure of Essex: his background and early life, his rise to power and influence, and his disgrace and fall; (ii) the figure of Robert Cecil, and the fractiousness of his relationship with Essex; (iii) the group of individuals who were attached to Essex via familial connections, e.g. Henry Wriothesley, Charles Blount, Robert Sidney, etc. (iv) a second group of individuals who attached themselves to Essex for reasons for political ambition, e.g. Anthony Bacon, Antonio Perez, Anthony Standen, etc.; (v) the extent to which this group of individuals thought that a faction existed against them, consisting of Henry Brooke, Robert Cecil, and their fathers; and (vi) the evidence for a Brooke-Cecil faction; (vii) the extent to which the Essex faction disintegrated once Essex had fallen from power.


In this course, Dr Janet Dickinson (University of Oxford) explores the concept of faction in Tudor England, 1509-1603. In the first module, we introduce the concept of faction itself – what do we mean when we talk about 'a faction' or just 'faction'? In the second, third and fourth modules, we consider the extent to which faction is a useful tool for explaining the fall of Anne Boleyn. First, was there a faction around Anne Boleyn? Second, was Anne Boleyn brought down a faction? And third, did Thomas Cromwell destroy Anne Boleyn. In the fifth module, we fast-forward to the end of the Tudor period and ask whether there was a faction surrounding the Earl of Essex, before turning in the sixth module to consider to influence of faction more generally in the final decade of Elizabeth's reign. And in the seventh module, we offer some concluding thoughts as to the usefulness of faction as a means of understanding the workings of Tudor court politics.


Dr Janet Dickinson is Senior Associate Tutor in History at Oxford University’s Department for Continuing Education, where she teaches on a range of programmes. Her main research interests focus on the nobility and the court in early modern England and Europe, on which she has contributed a number of chapters to edited volumes. Her first book, Court Politics and the Earl of Essex was published in 2011.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Dickinson, J. (2021, March 17). The Tudors – Faction in the Tudor Court, 1509-1603 - Was there an Essex faction? [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Dickinson, J. "The Tudors – Faction in the Tudor Court, 1509-1603 – Was there an Essex faction?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 17 Mar 2021,