Rebellion, Spymasters and Spies:The Rise of Intelligence Operations in England, 1569-1585
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When Elizabeth took the throne in 1558, her kingdom was in religious turmoil. Elizabeth’s Spymasters, William Cecil and Francis Walsingham, were given the difficult duty of maintain England’s security during a period when Catholics and Protestants were constantly fighting. This conflict resulted in the Northern Rebellion in 1569. With the quick Catholic defeat, Elizabeth’s Spymasters started to focus their attention on eliminating the Catholic threat. In the 1570s and 1580s, this included Mary, Queen of Scots and a number of Plots to remove Elizabeth from the throne. This thesis investigates the rise of intelligence operations during the mid-Elizabethan period in order to demonstrate the influence the intelligence community had on the changing religious and diplomatic politics. By examining the Northern Rebellion and the Dutch Revolt, the importance of spies in securing England from the Catholic threat and to an extent Spain is better understood. Walsingham and Cecil play a vital role in maintaining England’s security from Spanish and Catholic force through the use of their spy networks and through the use of several spies including William Herle. The actions of these men encourage the argument behind how the changing political and religious sentiments after the Northern Rebellion had a direct correlation with the rise of intelligence networks within Europe during the mid- Elizabethan period.