Francis Walsingham en
Sir Francis Walsingham was principal secretary to Queen Elizabeth I of England from 20 December 1573 until his death, and is popularly remembered as her "spymaster". Born to a well-connected family of gentry, Walsingham travelled in continental Europe after leaving university before embarking at the age of twenty on a career in law. A committed Protestant, during the reign of the Catholic Queen Mary I of England he joined other expatriates in exile in Switzerland and northern Italy until Mary's death and the accession of her Protestant half-sister, Elizabeth. Walsingham rose from relative obscurity to become one of the small coterie who directed the Elizabethan state, overseeing foreign, domestic and religious policy. He served as English ambassador to France in the early 1570s and witnessed the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre. As principal secretary, he supported exploration, colonization, the use of England's maritime strength, and the plantation of Ireland. He worked to bring Scotland and England together. Overall, his foreign policy demonstrated a new understanding of the role of England as a maritime, Protestant power in an increasingly global economy. He oversaw operations that penetrated Spanish military preparation, gathered intelligence from across Europe, disrupted a range of plots against Elizabeth, and secured the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots. Wikipedia [ - ]
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- Created an espionage system that did much to preserve the peace of the realm and sustain the Protestant religion
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- When the Catholic Mary Tudor became Queen Mary of England in 1553, Walsingham, a Protestant, felt it prudent to go abroad.
- When Protestant Queen Elizabeth succeeded Mary five years later, he returned home and was elected to Parliament.
- While in self- exile, he learned the ins and outs of international diplomacy.
- Impressed by Walsingham's expertise in foreign affairs, the Queen's first minister, Cecil (Lord Burghley), drafted him to be a spy, and for two years, Walsingham spied on foreign spies working in England.
- Walsingham did so well that in 1569 he was put in charge of the English secret service.
- In 1570, as envoy to the French court, he tried to persuade the French to be more tolerant of the Protestant Huguenots.
- But the French rejected his approach and on St. Bartholomew's Day in August, 1572, Catholics led by the Duke of Guise and the King's mother, Catherine de'Medici, murdered the Huguenot leader and many of his followers.
- During the Paris massacre, Walsingham gave sanctuary to English visitors, including the poet Sidney.
- In 1573, Elizabeth made Walsingham Secretary of State and a member of the Privy Council.
- Walsingham built up a network of spies whom he controlled ruthlessly.