On 24 May 1 6 1 6 , in a crowded Westminster Hall, Frances Howard, Countess of Somerset, pleaded guilty to having planned the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury three years earlier, while he was a prisoner in the Tower. With the conviction on the following day of her husband, Robert Carr, the greatest scandal of the Jacobean age came to its conclusion. In the case of Frances Howard it was the climactic event in an already chequered life. Born in 1 592/3, she had been married in 1 606 to the third Earl of Essex. The marriage failed, and in 1 6 13 Frances sued for its annulment on the grounds of her husband's impotence. Immediately the annulment was secured she was married again to Robert Carr, the King's favourite. These events had outraged the Jacobean moral majority, but scandal reached its peak in 1 6 1 5 when it was revealed that she had been implicated in murdering Sir Thomas Overbury, Carr's friend and political adviser, to prevent his opposition to her divorce. In the trials allegations of witchcraft and more than a suspicion of corruption at the highest political level added to the potent brew, and it is little wonder that the story made such a powerful impact upon contemporary society.