Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Throckmortons

From Nancy Bilyeau:
Late one November night in 1583, a group of “gentlemen of no mean credit and reputation”—in other words, agents working for Sir Francis Walsingham, secretary to Queen Elizabeth I—banged on the door of a London house. Their sudden arrival threw the occupant of the house into a panic. His name was Sir Francis Throckmorton and he was at that very moment upstairs, using a cipher to disguise his urgent letter to the woman who posed a threat to Elizabeth: Mary, Queen of Scots. The second cousin of the Elizabeth, deposed from her own throne in 1567, Mary was being held in genteel confinement in an English manor house, the object of a series of rescue attempts. Walsingham, the spymaster, worked tirelessly to thwart all of them.

Highly incriminating letters and papers were found during their search. Throckmorton, 29 years old, a devout Catholic, had composed a list of other Catholic gentlemen and nobles who could be counted on to rise up against their Protestant queen, Elizabeth, when the time came for a coup and replace her with Mary. He also wrote a list of ports and harbors ideal for an invasion by a French army led by the Duke of Guise, Mary’s relative.
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