Earl of Essex Robert (1566–1601) When Robert was nine years old, his father died, and he acquired the title of Earl. He was taken in as a ward of the powerful Lord Burghley. Essex became a national hero in 1596 when he shared leadership of the expedition that took Cadiz from the Spanish. The next year, he led an army against Spain itself, but it was defeated at the battle of Nieuwentyon. Essex was imprisoned for eleven months without trial. When he got out, he had lost most of his supporters in the government. In 1601, while sailing home from Ireland, he was killed by a cannon blast.
Essex was one of the most influential people in England during the reign of Elizabeth I. He was responsible for organizing many military campaigns against the Spanish and their allies. These wars cost a lot of money, so he created a financial problem for the queen. He also managed to alienate almost everyone in high positions of power, which included his friend and mentor, Lord Burghley. Finally, he attacked Spain directly, which was a crime that could not be forgiven. Despite all this, Essex grew into a popular figure among the people. There were even plans to make him king after the death of Elizabeth I, but they never came to pass.
Essex is remembered today for his love letters to the beautiful Countess of Salisbury. These letters were published after his death and made him seem like a real scoundrel.
The 17th Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere, was born on April 12, 1550, in Castle Hedingham in Essex. The new earl became a royal ward since his father died when he was a minor. The wardship system entailed the crown using his holdings for its own profit, ostensibly for the benefit of the ward. In de Vere's case, the earldom and other lands were given to Thomas Radcliffe, who had served as treasurer of England under King Henry VIII.
De Vere escaped from court and went into hiding to avoid being forced into marriage. He eventually married Jane Parker, the daughter of George Parker, Baron Parker of St Michael's Alley in London. They had three children: Elizabeth, Richard, and John.
When de Vere was 21 years old, Queen Mary I died and was succeeded by her half-brother, Philip II of Spain. This led to the English throne becoming vacant once again. A new queen was needed in order to keep the peace between England and Spain, so the crown went to Lady Jane Grey, the daughter of an English nobleman. She was only nine years old at the time and thus unable to rule on her own. As such, she was replaced by her husband, the Duke of Northumberland, who then ruled as regent until young Elizabeth could take her seat on the throne.
De Vere spent most of his adult life in exile due to his support for Lady Jane Grey's claim to the throne.
Earls of Dartmouth (1732), the first Earl's eldest son, who died before his father. Between 1772 until 1775, he was also a powerful politician, serving as Secretary of State for the Colonies and First Lord of Trade. He had six children, five sons and one daughter.
The second Earl died without issue in 1779. The third Earl managed to get himself into serious trouble and was imprisoned in the Tower of London from 1789 until his death in 1815. During this time, he never married or had any children. His only interest outside of politics was hunting and it is said that while imprisoned, he kept a pack of hounds at his house in London just for this purpose.
After his death, his nephew William Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood became the fourth Earl. He was an Irish peer and politician. In addition to this role, he served as Governor General of Canada from 1828 to 1838. He had two children, a son and a daughter.
The fifth Earl was a famous soldier. He fought in several wars including the American War of Independence, the French Revolution, and the Crimean War. In addition to this, he was also Prime Minister of England three times: in 1855, 1857, and 1860. He had seven children, five boys and two girls.
The sixth Earl was another military man.
An earl sat under a thegn. They were the Anglo-Saxon army's backbone. They received estates from the monarch in exchange for good service and had the potential to become earls. An army of 5,000 men required 10,000 acres to support it. The gentry played an important role because they provided most soldiers.
The gentry also represented the king in judicial cases and other affairs outside the military realm. Earls could be elected by their peers (other nobles) and they could also be promoted by the monarchy. However, there is no evidence that anyone else was excluded from the process. It seems that anyone who was able to take part in the election could do so. There was probably not much difference between an earl and a thegn except that the former held land directly from the crown while the latter received it through his lord.
In conclusion, the gentry played an important role in Anglo-Saxon society because they provided soldiers for the army and helped resolve disputes within the community.