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The Queen's Agent: Francis Walsingham at the Court of Elizabeth I From BBC Radio 4. Written by John Cooper; Read by Hugh Bonneville; Abridged. Elizabeth I came to the throne at a time of insecurity and unrest. Rivals threatened her reign; England was a Protestant island, isolated in a sea of Catholic countries. Spain plotted an invasion, but Elizabeth's Secretary, Francis Walsingham, was prepared to do whatever it took to protect her and the reformed religion to which he was devoted. As a young man he had witnessed the massacres in Paris on St Bartholomew's Day, when French Protestants were attacked by Catholic mobs. He was determined to save England from a similar fate. Walsingham ran a network of agents in England and Europe who provided him with information about invasions or assassination plots. He recruited likely young men and 'turned' others. He encouraged Elizabeth to make war against the Catholic Irish rebels, with extreme brutality, and oversaw the execution of Mary Queen of Scots.
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