The Queen and the People
Elizabeth I was a woman in danger: from the beginning of her reign to the end, she faced plots and rumours of plots. Some of the conspiracies posed real threats to her throne and to her life. In 1569, some of the leaders of the Revolt of the Northern Earls planned to remove Elizabeth and make Mary Stewart queen. In 1571, the Florentine banker Roberto Ridolfi hatched an elaborate scheme involving a Spanish invasion from the Netherlands, an English rebellion raised by the Duke of Norfolk, and the deposition of Elizabeth: the Pope, Philip II, and Norfolk were willing enough to help, and Elizabeth was saved only by the reluctance of the Spanish commander in the Netherlands and by Ridolfi’s weakness for bragging to everyone what a wonderful plot he was organising. In 1583, Francis Throckmorton was the link man in a conspiracy to synchronise a French Catholic invasion with a rising of English Catholics, to free Mary Queen of Scots and make her queen of England. In 1586 a group of young Catholic fanatics swore to kill Elizabeth, and again planned to make Mary queen with foreign assistance. In 1599, the Essex circle formulated various schemes to seize Elizabeth, to make her the pawn of their faction, and to force her to name James VI as heir.