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Title: The pursuit of God's glory : Francis Walsingham's espionage in Elizabethan politics, 1568-1588
Author: Tu, Hsuan-Ying
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2012
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Elizabethan espionage has been mistakenly stereotyped by both popular works and academic historiography as a collective and constitutional state service, working purely for national security. This thesis shifts the focus of the investigation into the world of espionage and intelligence control, moving it from the conventional concern for national defence towards a new location within the power politics of the mid-Elizabethan regime, from 1568 to 1588. From the late 1570s, the divisive policy of English intervention in the continental Protestant wars—whether such intervention should primarily serve the ‘advancement of the Gospel’, or instead be in the service of English interests and mindful of ruling legitimacy—split the Elizabethan intelligence service into rival components. William Cecil Lord Burghley and Principal Secretary Francis Walsingham hence individually organised their clientele-based secretariats and spy systems. The first half of the thesis will explore why and how Walsingham privatised, administered and financed his intelligence clientele. It will further reveal how the two systems competed over intelligence, at home and abroad, attempting to undermine each other’s prominence inside the regime, and ultimately to benefit their respective parties in policy debate. Focusing on the divided spy systems, the second half of the thesis will discuss two historical controversies respecting the mid-Elizabethan polity: first, the existence and nature of faction/party; and second, Elizabeth’s gynaecocracy, a form of government which was situated unstably between royal absolutism and a monarchical republic. A political divide arose between Burghley and Walsingham from the late 1570s and peaked in 1585 to 1586, though it never deteriorated so dangerously as to become rebellious ‘factionalism’, as in the 1590s. This conflict originated chiefly in their divergence over English interventionist policy, rather than from personal enmity or a struggle for patronage. During the 1580s, Walsingham manipulated his espionage effectively to tempt the irresolute Elizabeth to favour of his political aims: the execution of Mary Stuart, and anti-Spanish militarism. Sometimes, a common interest reconciled the rival parties, uniting them together against Elizabeth’s personal rule. The ministerial dominance over espionage selectively isolated the sovereign from the very heart of policy-making. The Privy Council, by controlling intelligence and state information, became the alternative and practical head of the regime.
Supervisor: Cooper, John Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available