All his spies


Robert Cecil, statesman and spymaster, lived through an astonishingly threatening period in English history. Queen Elizabeth had no clear successor and enemies both external and internal threatened to destroy England as a Protestant state, most spectacularly with the Spanish Armada and the Gunpowder Plot. Cecil stood at the heart of the Tudor and then Stuart state, a vital figure in managing the succession from Elizabeth I to James I & VI, warding off military and religious threats and steering the decisions of two very different but equally wilful and hard-to-manage monarchs. The promising son of Queen Elizabeth’s chief minister Lord Burghley, for Cecil there was no choice but politics, and he became supremely skilled in the arts of power, making many rivals and enemies. ‘All His Spies’ is an engaging and original work of history.

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