The Babington plot: the capture and execution of the conspirators

On Tuesday 20th September 1586, seven Catholic men were bound to hurdles in the Tower of London – one of them, a priest named John Ballard, on a single sled, the others two-a-piece – and then dragged westward on their final slow journey through the city’s autumnal streets to a hastily erected scaffold in the... Continue Reading →

Simon Forman fantasises about Elizabeth I

Simon Forman (1552-1611) was a London-based astrologer and physician with a wide-ranging and popular practice, particularly among the gentry and members of the court. Considered by many to be a quack – the College of Physicians fought a long-running legal battle with him over the nature of his work – his use of magical techniques... Continue Reading →

An exchange of poems between Sir Walter Ralegh and Elizabeth I

This exchange probably dates from 1587, around the time Ralegh's influence of power had reached its high-water mark. I don't propose to blog at length about the poems – I have said what I have to say about them in The Favourite and, for the most part, they speak for themselves. I would say, though,... Continue Reading →

Catholic treason in Elizabethan England and the psychology of espionage and terror

London Historians have just posted online a piece I wrote for their newsletter to mark the 450th anniversary of the birth of the most notorious of Elizabethan traitors, Anthony Babington. (Update: Now available on my blog here in two parts, here and here.) However, I felt that his fate – and those of his fellow... Continue Reading →

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