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The Life and Times of Sir Francis Walsingham Essay


Introduction

The growth of nationalism in most countries and the establishment of national intelligence systems are highly based on the work of Sir Francis Walsingham. The field of intelligence has undergone several changes due to changes in the available modes of information flow, storage and communication. In spite of this, there are still a substantial number of pointers that show that the contribution of early resource persons is still valid in the contemporary exercise of intelligence.

This is a pointer to the fact that early contributions in intelligence were significant since they act as a basis on which the contemporary modalities of intelligence are built. Francis Walsingham is one of the earliest people in history who contributed greatly to the development of intelligence (“The New Encyclopaedia Britannica” 783).

Walsingham was born in the year 1532 and died in the year 1590. The question that ought to be explored is how significant Walsingham is in the field of intelligence in the contemporary times given the fact that his works in intelligence were accomplished before the year 1600. The modern changes in the practice of intelligence cannot totally stand without reference to the critical ancient works that were done in the field.

The contribution of Walsingham in the field of intelligence was based on the nature of work practices and tasks that he accomplished as he worked as the principal secretary to the British Royal Monarchy, Queen Elizabeth I (Budiansky 1-5). In this paper, it is argued that while Sir Francis Walsingham lived four centuries ago, his contribution is still highly valued in the development of modern practitioners in the field of intelligence.

This paper explores the life of Sir Francis Walsingham. Of relevance in the paper is the discussion of the nature of work and tasks that he was involved in and how they shaped the field of intelligence then and in the contemporary times. The paper begins by summing the life of Sir Francis Walsingham.

This is followed by a deeper look into the work of Walsingham, especially the work of Sir Francis Walsingham as a secretary to Queen Elizabeth 1. The last part of the paper carries comparative discussion of the works of Walsingham and the contemporary practices in the field of intelligence.

In this paper, several questions are answered. These are: What was the early life of Sir Francis Walsingham like? What led to the appointment of Sir Francis Walsingham as the secretary to Queen Elizabeth 1?

What special work did Sir Francis Walsingham do in ancient England, which makes him an icon in the study of intelligence in the modern times? What were the shortfalls of Walsinghan as an agent and how did the full affect the development of intelligence? An exploration of these questions broadens the discussion, thereby making the paper elaborate on the subject.

Overview of the life of Sir Francis Walsingham

As observed in the introduction, Sir Francis Walsingham lived more than four centuries ago. Walsingham was born in a large family of gentry. He was born in the year 1532 at Foots Cray. The father to Sir Walsingham was a lawyer. Walsingham was deceased of his father in 1534. His family was well connected.

The status of his family enabled him to travel in Europe after his university. Walsingham, studied at the King’s College in Cambridge with a set other Protestants, but he did not sit for a degree owing to his high social status as a protestant (“The New Encyclopaedia Britannica” 784).

At the age of 20 years, Walsingham started pursuing a course in law at Gray’s Inn, which was a top qualifying body for lawyers in England. This was in the year 1552, after he had travelled in different parts of Europe. He was a committed Protestant during the period of rule of Queen Mary I of England.

This made him to join other expatriates who had moved into exile in Switzerland and Italy. He returned to England after the death of Queen Mary I, who was heading the Catholic Church in England. Walsingham ascended in power to take the position of a coterie. He was charged with administering in the state of Elizabethan in religious issues, both at home and in the diaspora.

It is important to mention that his rise to power was highly backed by a group of people to whom he had been exiled with during the Reign of Elizabeth I. The most notable former exiles who backed him to power are Earl of Bedford and Francis Russell. He was first elected to the Elizabeth parliament in the year 1559. He was reelected to the parliament in the year 1563, but under a different constituency under the support Earl of Bedford (Hadden and Henry 112).

Walsingham got married in the year 1562 to a daughter of one of the top political figures in the United Kingdom, Sir George Barne, who was the Lord Mayor of the city of London between 1552 and 1553. His wife died two years into his marriage, leaving behind a son who was to be taken care of by Walsingham.

He married another daughter of a political figure in the year 1566, who bore him a daughter. In the year 1967, two of the stepsons of Walsingham died out of a gunpowder accident, which occurred at Appuldurocombe. Walsingham championed the course for the Huguenots in 1958.

In his course, he developed close working relations with his predecessor in the Lyme Regis Constituency, Nickolas Throckmorton. Throckmorton was a former British Ambassador to France. To neutralize the schemes formulated against Elizabeth, Walsingham joined William Cecil in 1959. This was the beginning point for the recognition and a beginning of his carrier as an aide to the Queen of England (Fitzgerald para 1-2).

Work of Sir Francis Walsingham

An exploration of the early life of Walshingham, as has been done, is a critical factor in noting the nature of developments that resulted in his appointment as the secretary to the Queen of England and later his works in fostering British intelligence as he worked for the Royal monarch.

The early life of Sir Francis Walsingham denotes an upheaval of events, which are argued to have shaped the life and career of Walsingham. According to Adams (60-61), the history of the work relations between queen and Walsingham, who was the Queen’s chief agent, is often complex. T

he complexity of the relationship is expounded by the manner in which Walsingham worked. Therefore, it is vital to unearth the nature of work relations between Walsingham and Queen to capture the various natures of work practices between Walsinghan and Queen and get insights into the role of Walsingham as the chief spymaster of the Queen of England (Hadden and Henry 112).

According to Fitzgerald (para. 1), Walsingham occupied a key operational position in the Queens court. This took place from 1573 to 1590 when he died. He is often cited as one of the main people who established the boundaries of conventional intelligence and began a revolution in intelligence tactics, which are still highly deployed by governments in the contemporary times by most agencies of governments.

The first rule of Walsingham in government came in the year 1567 when he was assigned to the role of breaking up a plan of assassinating Queen Elizabeth I, which is widely referred to as the Ridolf Plot. It can be said that this was a purely intelligence role and pointing to the latter role that he occupied in the Queen’s rule.

With the support of other agents, Walsingham managed to break up that plot, thereby freeing the Queen. A substantial number of people argue that this role made a turnaround in the working relationship between Walsingham and Queen (Fitzgerald para. 10).

From the year 1578, Walsingham was sent on various missions in European nations by the Queen. These countries included France and Holland. This helped him in establishing strong contacts with Francis Drake. By 1854, he had developed an unveiling view that Britain needed to intervene in European conflicts; for instance, the conflict between Belgium and the Netherlands.

He also oversaw the establishment of a pro-Britain government in Scotland. After the year 1854, he spent most of his time preparing the country for war due to the escalation of conflicts in Spain. He carried with the espionage work till he died in the year 1590 (Fitzgerald para. 19-21).

According to The New Encyclopaedia Britannica (783), Walsingham found a lot of favor with the Queen, resulting in his appointment by Queen in 1570 to back up the Protestant Huguenots of France in their diplomatic standstill with Charles IX, who was the then King of France. He also succeeded in fostering the negotiation between Charles IX and the Huguenots. This resulted in his appointment as the Ambassador to France.

His appointment as the England’s ambassador to France was another great milestone in his life. It helped him to establish stronger alliances with the key political and religious figures, such as the King of France and the Huguenots who aided in the revolt against the Catholic Spain.

However, his work as an ambassador to France did not auger well with his career in intelligence. The main reason for this argument is that the revolt against the Catholic Spain led to the deaths of a substantial number of Protestant Huguenots, whom he was meant to protect.

This took place in what is referred to as the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in Paris. While this was seen as a blow to his works as an intelligent jury, a substantial number of historians termed the St. Bartholomew’s Massacre as another critical event that streamlined the career of Walsingham in intelligence. This is explained by the developments that later took place upon his return from France in 1573 (Fitzgerald para. 10-13).

It is argued that the attempt to revolt against the Catholic Spain exuded more confidence in him by the Queen of England, who promoted him to become her principal secretary in 1576. Prior to his appointment as the principal secretary to the Queen, Walsingham was serving as the manager of England, managing both the domestic and foreign affairs for the Queen of England. His allegiance and service to the Queen was later recognized when the Queen awarded him with the title ‘Sir’ in the year 1577.

This was yet another turning point in the life and work of Wlsingham as it gave him more power and fame to discharge his work as the principal secretary to Queen Elizabeth I. The tittle meant that he could be more recognized in England, as well as other foreign states. He fully engaged in espionage and other pieces of intelligence work, working as the chief agent in England. Till his death, he was involved in a number of intelligence works, which established a high profile of British intelligence (Fitzgerald para. 14-18).

Walsinghan and the development of intelligence

The question that ought to be asked at this point concerns the significance of Walsinghan in contemporary government intelligence. A substantial number of researchers argue that this can be explicated through a deeper look at his work as the principal secretary to the Queen.

An assessment of the rise of Walsinghan to become the principal secretary to Queen Elizabeth I show that Walsingham was a great strategist and a master of intelligence, a feature that was later to be replicated in the manner in which he discharged intelligence work for British (Adams 60-61).

The development of modern espionage work is highly attributed to Walsingham. The political status of England can be used to show the nature of security that the country had during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. This gives a basis from which one can easily argue for the resounding works of Walsingham in fostering intelligence work.

According to Louis (184), Elizabethan England was one of the most advanced states in the ancient times. The state had a substantial number of things that it could boast of. During that time, the state was the main centre of trading activities in Europe. England produced Shakespeare and was beginning to establish colonies across the world (Louis 184).

According to Louis (184), England had a constricted military power, something that exposed it to constant dangers of being invaded by states that had proved to be militarily active during that period. These states included France and Spain. Compared to England and Spain, England was incapacitated in both the navy and the land military power, thus it could not easily withstand the power of the countries that posed threat to it.

Therefore, Elizabeth, the Queen of England, was forced to battle the enemies by using wits since he had no power to wage a physical battle against them. The battle of wits was one of the indicators of the deployment of intelligent tactics to neutralize the threat that was posed on England.

The main Weapon by Queen was Sir Francis Walsingham. Walsingham operated under the title of the principal secretary to the Queen. However, through his work Walsingham came out as a spymaster to Queen. One notable achievements of Wlsingham as a spymaster to the Queen was his ability to trump the Catholic states with a formidable force, which was stronger than the Spain’s armada espionage (Fitzgerald para. 16-18).

Therefore, it comes out that it is important to base on the political and religious status of states since these two were the main pillars of security at that period in history. Religious and political strife were a common source of tension and conflict between nations. It is argued that Walsigham invented the art, as well as science, which acted as a basic foundation on which modern espionage has been built upon.

The modern intelligence work is highly built around the development of spy agencies by governments, who check on the developments that are bound to threaten the security of the states. An example of the spy agency that has been developed in the world today is the US Federal Bureau of Investigations, which uses agents to spy on certain developments. Similarly, there are other espionage agencies that have been established in a substantial number of states in the world today.

The only main area of difference between espionage in the Walsingham times and the modern times is the applications of tactics by the agent. Modern espionage applies a lot of technology in advancing spy work, unlike in the past where these technologies did not exist. His espionage tactics led England under the leadership of Queen to become an empire.

One resounding thing in the modern government intelligence is the planting of agents in diverse regions. This is a tactic that was purely borrowed from the espionage tactics of Walsingham (Louis 184).

Mandelbaum (12) observed that the 16th century in the history of England marked the period of the emergence of science and reason from the dark ages, where there was a lot of reliance on superstition. During this period, there was a great challenge in the deployment of science in development since science coexisted with superstition. Superstition was rampant, thence, a great impediment to the development and deployment of science in intelligence.

There were close ties between the religion and the operation of the state, thereby making difficult for the state to eliminate the reliance on superstition as the means of predicting and reacting to events. Therefore, the deployment of science at this point in time was a highly remarkable development.

As observed earlier in this paper, Walsingham was able to apply science in his spy work. One resounding question here concerns the ability of Walsingham to deploy science in an environment that had minimal foundations in science. Walsingham is mentioned among the first people to advance intelligence work for the Queen of England.

The relevance of Walsingham in British intelligence is founded in the vitality of the information that he was able to gather and avail to the Queen. It could be said that his closeness to the queen was an additive factor for his recognition in the history of intelligence. While the connectedness of Walsingham with the queen cannot be ruled out, it is important for one to ascertain the way in which he got the attention of the Queen (Mandelbaum 13).

Mandelbaum (16) argued that Walsingham got attention by virtue of the activities that he had been involved in. The queen saw the potential of a great spymaster in queen out of the initiatives of espionage, which he had been involved in and the level of success that had been attained in the initiatives.

The Queen noted the potential of Wlsingham to execute national intelligence operations in England through his participation in domestic counterintelligence. Another thing that comes out here concerns the nature of spy missions that were launched and executed under the leadership of Walsingham as the chief spy agent of the Queen of England.

Upon his appointment as the spymaster for the Queen, he deployed a desirable level of creativity be deploying agents, as well as the utilization of personal knowledge in science to execute a number of espionage missions. Most of the spy missions that were established and managed by Walsingham turned out positive. He was able to arrange for foreign reports on all the foreigners who resided in England at that time.

The intelligence works of Walsingham are said to have withstood the occult nature of political times in which he was working. His ability to eliminate all forms of threats through intelligence vindicated his ability and his appointment and recognition as the father of ancient British intelligence (Mandelbaum 17).

Having discovered the weakness of the country, Walsingham thought of the idea of implanting agents to spy for the State in diverse states in Europe. The rationale behind the implantation of agents was to spy on the political development in the regions in which they were implanted. The main areas of focus for the agents were the political events in the regions and their implications on the security of England.

Walsingham deployed agents in each of the foreign courts that prevailed in Europe, as well as within the conspiracies of domestic plotters. This enabled him to thwart repeated efforts by foreign countries to launch attacks on the British soil. The application of science in intelligence also began with Walsignham, where he is argued to have used the new mathematical science of code breaking to intercept messages between ambassadors and kings.

This enabled him to learn of the developments between states without necessarily availing his agents in certain regions of Europe. He also established subtle disinformation camps, which were used in foiling England foes and beguiling her allies. The scheme was effective in capturing “Mary Queens of Scots” during her attempt to assassinate “Queen Elizabeth 1”.

Walsingham was a genius in covert operations and his techniques have remained exemplary in the modern exercise of espionage. The assurance of security and the establishment of England as an empire are highly attributed to the work of Walsingham (Louis 184).

Literature on the work of Walsingham denotes a certain kind of power that made him to discharge his work in a firm way. It is argued that Walsingham did not fully subject himself under the Queen; rather, he executed certain decisions devoid of the direction and command from his supposed boss- Queen Elizabeth I.

However, what matters is the validity of the decisions and their contributions to the stabilization of security in England. One of the examples that are offered is the execution of the Queen of Scots after the discovery that she was planning for the assassination of Queen Elizabeth I.

One main concern by researchers of Walsingham’s works concerns the question of whether he owed his allegiance to the Queen or to his work as the lead spy agent of the Queen. Some researchers base on the methods that were used by Walsingham to justify their opinion (“The Queen’s Agent: Francis Walsingham at the Court of Elizabeth I” 261-262).

Standardizing the methods that were used by John often results in the negative view about a number of tactics that he deployed in eliminating threats to the Queen and England. This opens up into the evaluation of the standards of espionage and to what level the standards ought to be adhered to.

Among the debates that surrounded the work of Walsingham was his view that Elizabeth had miscalculated his steps in failing to prosecuting Mary in the Ridolphi Plot. The trial and subsequent execution of Mary is termed as one of the most unheeding episodes over 20 year’s work of Walsingham, yet it still does not draw away his contribution to the establishment of the pillars of intelligence in England and the other parts of the world.

During the discharge his duties, he emphasized on the use of espionage tactics through verbal and written tactics. This is what aided him in most of the courses that were pursued under his leadership, thereby resulting into his depiction as the father of intelligence (Adams 60).

Conclusion

Sir Francis Walsingham is termed as the father of the modern intelligence. This paper has explored the life and work history of Sir Francis Walsingham in order to ascertain the worth of this assertion. From the discussion in the paper, it can be concluded that the basis of modern national intelligence systems is strongly founded on the works of Walsingham as he worked as a semester for Queen Elizabeth I.

He developed and deployed different spy techniques like the use of spy agents, something that is highly replicated in modern espionage tactics by governments.

Works Cited

The New Encyclopaedia Britannica.” Chicago, IL: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1998. Print.

“The Queen’s Agent: Francis Walsingham at the Court of Elizabeth I.” Contemporary Review 294.1705(2012): 261-262. Print.

Adams, Simon. “The Queen’s Agent.” History Today 62.1 (2012): 60-61. Print.

Budiansky, Stephen. Her Majesty’s Spymaster: Elizabeth I, Sir Francis Walsingham, and the Birth of Modern Espionage. New York, NY: Viking, 2005. Print.

Fitzgerald, Peter. Sir Francis Walsingham. n.d. Web.

Hadden, Briton, and Henry R. Luce. Time. New York: Time Inc., 1923. Print.

Louis, Kruh. “Sir Francis Walsingham.” Cryptologia 30.2(2006): 184-184. Print.

Mandelbaum, W. Adam. “The 16th-Century Founders of British Intelligence often used Sorcery to Obtain Information.” Military History 21.3(2004), 12-13. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2019, December 11). The Life and Times of Sir Francis Walsingham. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-life-and-times-of-sir-francis-walsingham/

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"The Life and Times of Sir Francis Walsingham." IvyPanda, 11 Dec. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/the-life-and-times-of-sir-francis-walsingham/.

1. IvyPanda. "The Life and Times of Sir Francis Walsingham." December 11, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-life-and-times-of-sir-francis-walsingham/.


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IvyPanda. 2019. "The Life and Times of Sir Francis Walsingham." December 11, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-life-and-times-of-sir-francis-walsingham/.

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