Attorney-Gen [Sir Edward Coke]. May it please your Grace, the Lords chief Judges, which are the fathers of the law, do know that the thought of treason to the Prince, by the law, is death; and that he that is guilty of Rebellion is guilty of an intent (by the Laws of the Land) to seek the destruction of the Prince, and so adjudged treason. And I will prove this unto your lordships by two several cases:
First he raiseth power and strength in a settled government. The law will not suffer it but it is construed as a case of High Treason. He that doth usurp upon it, the Law doth intend that he hath purposed the destruction of the Prince. He that doth levy forces to take any town in the Prince’s dominions—it is so likewise. But my Lord of Essex hath levied Power to take the Tower of London, and to surprise the Queen’s own Court. Then this must needs be higher than the highest [treason] and he that doth fortify himself against the Prince’s power, must needs be within the compass of Treason.
And now, my Lord of Essex, I will speak a word unto you (for I know you can speak as well as any man) that whereas you say the laws of Nature compelled you to do this which in Judgement you have most treacherously attempted, I will in a word disprove your own judgement, admitting you must make freely your argument. First, I will open the quality of your rebellion; secondly, the manner of it; thirdly, I will touch the circumstances. And lastly, I will observe the person.
That quality hath High Treason for which I think I shall not need to say any more. For the manner of it, I hold it an unnatural act for a natural subject to commit treason against his natural sovereign; and methinks it cannot be by any probability denied, but that this High Treason is, and must be, both against the law of God, nature, and religion.
And under your Grace’s favour, my Lord, the manner of it being so high in nature as it is, it must be High Treason, which was not only carried in their hearts, but for a continual remembrance kept in a black purse, which my lord of Essex wore on his breast next to his skin.
Let me note unto you my good Lord that they were both born under the Government of this Princess, and so highly advanced by her Majesty’s favor that they should have trembled once to think of such rebellion as they now have enterprised. Doth not my lord of Essex now enjoy his Earldom of Essex by the gift of Henry the Eighth to his father? Was he not made Master of Her Majesty’s Horse at twenty-two years of age? One of Her Majesty’s Council? To be Earl Marshall of England? General of Her Majesty’s forces in Ireland? And lastly, hath he not received diverse gifts and sums of money to his own use of her Majesty’s gracious and princely bounty, to the value of thirty thousand pound? Yet all these were as cleverly forgotten as if they had never been.
Now shall I show you the person whom this concerns, even her Majesty’s sacred Person, against whom their attempts have been, only for the undertaking of God’s cause and exercising of justice with admirable mercy. And though I cannot speak without reverent commendations of her Majesty’s most honorable justice, yet I think her overmuch clemency to some turneth to overmuch cruelty for herself. For though the rebellious attempts were so exceeding heinous, yet out of her Princely mercy no man was racked, tortured, or pressed to speak any thing further than of their own accord and willing minds for discharge of their consciences they uttered. And then, to see the mercy of God that will have the truth known, it is admirable beyond the conceit of Man’s capacity. For they being severally examined, notwithstanding, all agreed directly without varying.
But when her Majesty sent a Councilor of State to have the Earl come before her, when she heard of his rebellion, for no other end or purpose but for his admonishment, he refused to come; and having a guilty conscience, and suspecting his treasons were laid open, took consultation to surprise the court and the Tower of London, all at one instant, and for this purpose appointed Blount custody of the Gates, Sir John Davis of the Hall, Sir Charles Danvers of the Presence [Chamber], and himself of Her Majesty’s Person. Whereupon Blount said, "Ah! In What humours shall we find them in at the Court?"
This was not all for the Earl. He must call a Parliament, and he would decide matters not making [meet?] for his purpose. But now in God’s most just judgement, he of his Earldom shall be Robert the Last; that of a kingdom thought to be Robert the First— which, my Lord, did not any whit amuse himself to give order that if he and his accomplices should miscarry in London, then the Councilors which he caused to be imprisoned in his house should be slain. It was plain treason in him to stand out, being by them charged to dissolve his company upon his allegiance.
Why shall I need to stand upon further proofs. It is so evident and, my Lord himself will not deny, but that he had a schedule containing in it divers of his friends’ names which, as I conjecture, must needs contain some other matter, for he durst not let it come to light, but burnt it. And as for Owen Salisbury, Davis, Tresham, they must have the Guard of the Lords of the council, to use them at their pleasure.
1 May 1999 pkm