Elizabeth's Spymaster is the story of the greatest spy of the time: Sir Francis Walsingham. Walsingham was the first ‘spymaster' in the modern sense. His methods anticipated those of MI5 and MI6 and even those of the KGB. He maintained a network of spies across Europe, including double agents at the highest level in Rome and Spain---the sworn enemies of Queen Elizabeth and her protestant regime. His entrapment of Mary, Queen of Scots is a classic intelligence operation that resulted in her execution.
As Robert Hutchinson reveals, his cypher experts' ability to intercept other peoples' secret messages and his brilliant forged letters made him a fearsome champion of the young Elizabeth. Yet even this Machiavellian schemer eventually fell foul of Elizabeth as her confidence grew (and judgment faded). The rise and fall of Sir Francis Walsingham is a Tudor epic, vividly narrated by a historian with unique access to the surviving documentary evidence.
The Howard family - the Dukes of Norfolk - were the wealthiest and most powerful aristocrats in Tudor England, regarding themselves as the true power behind the throne. They were certainly extraordinarily influential, with two Howard women marrying Henry VIII - Anne Boleyn and the fifteen-year-old Catherine Howard. But in the treacherous world of the Tudor court no faction could afford to rest on its laurels. The Howards consolidated their power with an awesome web of schemes and conspiracies but even they could not always hold their enemies at bay.
This was a family whose history is marked by treason, beheadings and incarceration - a dynasty whose pride and ambition secured only their downfall.
Rich in incident and colorful detail, this is narrative history at its finest.
While Henry's elder brother Arthur was scrupulously groomed for the crown by their autocratic father, the ten-year-old "spare heir" enjoyed a more carefree childhood, given prestige and power without the looming pressures of the throne. Everything changed for the young prince, though, when his brother died. Henry was nine weeks shy of his eighteenth birthday when he inherited both his brother's widow and the crown.
As King, Henry preferred magnificence and merriment to his royal responsibilities, sweeping away the musty cobwebs of his father's court with feasting, dancing, and sport. Frustrated, too, by the seeming inability of his wife, Katherine of Aragon, to produce an heir, Henry turned his attention to a prospective second queen whose name would endure as long as his: Anne Boleyn. With the king still lacking a successor by the age of 35, however, the time for youthful frolic had come to an end.
Divorcing his wife and the Catholic Church, executing his lover and his violent will, Henry charged forward on a scandalous path of terrifying self-indulgence from which there was no turning back. Young Henry is an illuminating portrait of this tyrannical yet groundbreaking king—before he transformed his country, and the face of the monarchy, irrevocably.