The Throckmorton Plot was an attempt by English Roman Catholics in 1583 to murder Queen Elizabeth I of England and replace her with her second cousin Mary, Queen of Scots. The plot is named after the key conspirator, Sir Francis Throckmorton (cousin to Elizabeth Throckmorton, Elizabeth's first lady in waiting), who confessed to the plot under torture.
The aim of the plot was the assassination of Elizabeth I. The Roman Catholics wished to free Mary, Queen of Scots, who was under house arrest in England, and place her on the throne of England to legally restore their religion. This plan was designed to coincide with an invasion of England to be led by Henry I, Duke of Guise, financed by Spain and by the Pope, and a simultaneous revolt of English Roman Catholics, involving both the Jesuits and the English Cardinal Allen.
Throckmorton acted as a Spanish agent. Ridolfi, a Florentine banker and ardent Catholic, had been involved in the planning of the Northern rebellion, and had been plotting to overthrow Elizabeth as early as 1569. With the failure of the rebellion, he concluded that foreign intervention was needed to restore Catholicism and bring Mary to the English throne, and began to contact potential conspirators. Mary's advisor, John Lesley, the Bishop of Ross, gave his assent to the plot as the way to free Mary. The plan was to have the Duke of Alba invade from the Netherlands with 10,000 men, foment a rebellion of the northern English nobility, murder Elizabeth, and marry Mary to Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk. Ridolfi optimistically estimated half of all English peers were Catholic, and could muster in excess of 39,000 men. Norfolk gave verbal assurances to Ridolfi that he was Catholic, though as a pupil of John Foxe, he remained a Protestant all his life. Both Mary and Norfolk, desperate to remedy their respective situations, agreed to the plot. With their blessing, Ridolfi set off to the Continent to gain Alba, Pius V and King Philip II's support. While desiring the restoration of Catholic rule in England, the Duke of Alba feared the accession of Mary, Queen of Scots, to the throne of England. As her mother was a member of the prominent Guise family in France, he feared the alliance of England and France by Mary.
The plot was unsuccessful. After discovering incriminating evidence in Throckmorton's house, Francis Walsingham ordered the arrest of Throckmorton as a go-between between Mary, Queen of Scots, and Bernardino de Mendoza, the ambassador of King Philip II of Spain in London, and tortured Throckmorton into a confession.In 1571, Elizabeth's intelligence network was sending her information about a plot against her life. By gaining the confidence of Spain's ambassador to England, John Hawkins learned the details of the conspiracy and notified the government so to arrest the plotters. She was also sent a private warning by the Grand Duke of Tuscany, who had learned of the plot against her. Charles Baillie, Ridolfi's messenger, was arrested at Dover for carrying compromising letters, and under torture revealed the plot. The Duke of Norfolk was arrested on 7 September 1571 and sent to the Tower. Guerau de Spes, the Spanish ambassador, was expelled from the country in January 1571. Still abroad when the plot was discovered, Ridolfi never returned to England; he became a Florentine senator in 1600. Mary, when questioned, admitted to having dealings with Ridolfi, but denied any involvement with the plot. Though she was clearly implicated by the evidence, Elizabeth refused to have her executed and vetoed a bill by Parliament that condemned Mary and removed her from the succession. She feared that by executing a "divinely appointed" monarch, she undermined her own position. She proceeded with the execution of the Duke of Norfolk for treason on 2 June 1572. Mary's status in England was transformed from honoured guest to treasonous pariah, and she was universally condemned by the governing elite. Her continued conspiring, especially in the Babington Plot, eventually led to her conviction for treason and execution on 8 February 1587. Media representations
The plot itself resulted in the creation of the Bond of Association in 1584; a document drafted by Francis Walsingham and William Cecil, Lord Burghley, which obliged all signatories to execute anyone who attempted to usurp the throne or to assassinate the Queen.
Throckmorton was convicted of high treason and executed in 1584.
Mary, Queen of Scots was placed under strict confinement after the plot and was confined to Chartley Hall in Staffordshire.
- O'Day, Rosemary (1995). The Tudor Age. England: Longman Group Limited.
- Warren, John (2002). Elizabeth I: Religion and Foreign Affairs. Singapore: Hodder Murray.
- Lotherington, John (ed.) (1994). The Tudor Years. Hodder and Stoughton. ISBN 0-340-53794-9.
- Butler, Charles (1822). "The Treason of Francis Throckmorton". Historical Memoirs of the English, Irish, and Scottish Catholics, Since the Reformation. pp. 376–377. OCLC 588795283.
|This article related to the history of England is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.|