Simon Adams

Simon Adams is a reader in history at Strathclyde University and the author of Leicester and the Court: Essays on Elizabethan Politics. He is completing the volume on Elizabeth I for the Yale English Monarchs series.

William Cecil, First Baron Burghley, served Elizabeth I for nearly forty years, as principal secretary and lord treasurer, and left an enormous body of papers. His correspondence, now dispersed in four major and a number of minor collections, dominates the political history of Elizabeth’s reign. Even more important, in some respects, are the unique series of memoranda written in his...

Rigging and Bending: James VI & I

Simon Adams, 9 October 2003

Mary Queen of Scots was beheaded in 1587. English observers, anxious about James VI of Scotland’s reaction to his mother’s execution, were alarmed to discover that the greatest of the Scottish Catholic peers, George Gordon, Sixth Earl of Huntly, was rapidly becoming his chief confidant. In 1588 James arranged Huntly’s marriage to Henrietta Stuart, daughter of his former...

In the summer of 1618, Diego Sarmiento de Acuna, Count of Gondomar, Ambassador of Philip III to the Court of James I had a clever idea. For four years the proposal that James’s son Prince Charles should marry the Infanta Maria had been batted to and fro between London and Madrid in an attempt to bring about an Anglo-Spanish alliance. It was very much Gondomar’s own project, but James had proved far more enthusiastic than Philip. James now learned that the Spanish Government was planning to undertake a major naval expedition against the Muslim corsairs of Algiers and offered to contribute a number of warships to the expedition. British warships were as welcome in Spain as the Algerine corsairs, but how could Gondomar reject the offer politely? His solution was audacious: if His Majesty was so committed to the worthy aim of the elimination of piracy, what better way could there be of demonstrating that commitment than bringing to justice the notorious pirate Sir Walter Ralegh?

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